How to Create an Experiential Retail Experience Online

The experiential retail craze is sweeping brick-and-mortar stores across the country. Physical retailers are seeing the benefits of utilizing emerging technology to create a space where customers not only transact but “experience” a brand. But experiential retail is not just limited to storefronts. E-commerce retailers are experimenting with live video and interactive broadcasting to give their customers a similar immersive shopping experience from the comfort of their home — or wherever they take their mobile device.

Creating a Valuable Experience with Live Video

While not all retailers can offer their customers smart mirrors or VR goggles, they can give them an experience that is happening in real time. In fact, retailers of all sizes and budgets can utilize live video or interactive broadcasting to add value to their customers.

Perhaps the most obvious way to offer an experiential retail experience is through product demonstrations. When shoppers see how a piece of apparel is worn or how a device is used, they can imagine themselves wearing or using the product. Question-and-answer sessions, one-one-and one customer service and entertaining interviews are just a few other examples of the kind of live content retailers can share with their customers.

How Retailers Are Using Live Video

In 2015, Kohl’s was one of the first retail chains in the United States to take a chance on live video. During New York Fashion Week, the retailer live streamed a fashion show featuring apparel from one of its in-house brands Lauren Conrad on a mobile-optimized site. Shoppers could watch the fashion show live in real time and shop the clothing they saw on the runway simultaneously. In addition, users could access exclusive backstage video content of “Lauren Conrad and her team putting together pieces and planning for the show itself.” By immersing shoppers in the creative process, shoppers felt more connected to the brand, and in turn, were more likely to make a purchase.

Taobao, one of the e-commerce arms of the Alibaba conglomerate, took the live video trend one step forward by launching its own live streaming platform, which thousands of retailers and brands now utilize every day. Similar to the Kohl’s live streaming website, shoppers can buy the products directly as they’re being shown. On Taobao, merchants link a series of products to the stream, and shoppers can add items to their cart and check out without ever leaving the broadcast. In addition to transacting, however, shoppers are also invited to engage with the host by leaving comments or asking questions. The experience is a win-win for both the merchant and consumer; the merchant increases their sales while the customer enjoys the video and feels good knowing they made an informed purchase decision.

Utilizing the Right Technology

Many social networks offer live streaming or live broadcasting capabilities (think Facebook Live or Instagram Stories.), but these platforms don’t offer retailers the autonomy or customization features. By taking advantage of voice and video solutions provider, retailers can personalize the experience for their audience by offering direct channels of purchase, enabling comments, using one-on-one video chat and more. Along with its customization capabilities, a provider should also have access to a network of distributed data centers around the world, as well as the ability to work across multiple mobile devices and operating systems.

With the right content and live video solution, online retailers can create inspiring experiential retail-inspired experiences that increase engagement, brand awareness, customer loyalty, and sales.