Experiential Commerce and the impact it has on today’s modern visitor
It’s no surprise that shopping behaviour has experienced significant changes over the past months due to the pandemic and that many businesses are still trying to catch up with the latest commerce trends and channels that are rapidly evolving and shaping the market. What might surprise you though is that only 9% of consumers say that they find online shopping fun or enjoyable.
How is that possible when we are living in the era of experiences? At Convious we are true experience freaks because we have seen the impact that they can have on consumers. Experiences matter because they have the power to shape us, build memories, and mark our next move, which is why the experience economy is in full swing and will only continue to grow in the years to come.
Still, most venues and attractions, as much of experience experts as they might be, are still not hitting the mark when it comes to offering fun, engaging, and seamless experiences online. But why, when online is exactly where potential visitors are? Why are most brands still making online experiences dull, tedious, and inconvenient?
Most brands within the attractions industry are primarily focused on providing booking convenience, but not on making the whole process enjoyable and attractive. And in today’s competitive environment, unfortunately, convenience is not enough. Attractions need to start focusing on integrating experiential eCommerce strategies within their customer journeys.
But what is experiential eCommerce?
Experiential eCommerce has its origins in experiential retail, also known as “retailtainment”, which goes beyond just shopping by bringing entertainment into the experience and offering interactive ways for the consumers to engage with the brand and learn more about it.
It started gaining relevance among brick and mortar businesses as a way to fight online brands by offering an additional value and reason for their customers to visit physical shops. Now, however, this trend that initially originated to boost offline sales is becoming key within the online landscape, as a way for online retailers to engage better with their consumers and build more attractive booking and buying experiences.
Let’s take a look into some good examples of experiential eCommerce and the key elements that brands are using in their eCommerce strategies in order to captivate their audiences.
Some great examples of experiential eCommerce to get you inspired
An example of experiential retail for instance would be the Tony Chocolonely shop which as they say, is “always a party”. The store is a “chocolate experience” that includes a mega-super-choco-vending machine full of Tony’s different flavored bars free to taste, as well as exclusive items that can only be found in store.
However, now that they have been forced to close their physical shops due to COVID19, they are still offering the same engaging experience through their online shop, by letting their customers customize their own chocolate bar and wrapper.
The prevailing elements here are the interaction, discovery, and participation, which provoke higher engagement among the online visitor.
In the end, experiential eCommerce is a customer-centric strategy that strengthens the bond between brands and their customers through a virtual shopping experience, usually supported and powered by emerging technology such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, or 3D content.
Related read: How customer-centric is your attraction? 5 keys to consider.
Another outstanding example of experiential eCommerce is Google’s Umami Land. With the aim of introducing people to Japanese food culture, they created a virtual theme park that educates people on Japanese dishes.
While the initial idea was based on attracting tourists into the Land of the Rising Sun, the effects of the pandemic made them change the course of their original concept and bring the experience fully online in the shape of a free-roaming WebGL that features a carefully illustrated and immersive virtual world which users can explore as if it were almost a video game.
However, the most brilliant factor of this whole virtual experience is perhaps the fact that each of the dishes and stops that can be found within this virtual world are connected directly to local takeaway restaurants near the users found by Google via Google Search.
That gives them a fun and seamless way to not just learn about Japanese dishes but also have them delivered right to their homes a few minutes after their discovery.
By making it available both on mobile and desktop as well as in multiple languages they expanded their reach and helped support an industry that was hardly hit by the pandemic.
So, what are some of the key elements present in these successful online shopping experiences that you can incorporate into your own attraction’s eCommerce?
Key elements in successful experiential eCommerce
- Personalization: Personalizing the experience for your online visitor allows you to convey the feeling that you get them. Your offers are relevant and you know how to give them exactly what they’re looking for.
Before, when someone used to walk up to your box office, they could tell the person in the booth exactly what type of experience they were looking for, for how many people, for when, if they had any particular preferences or wishes… and the person in the box office could then give personalized advice or suggest the perfect ticket offer for their particular situation.
In the online world, however, there is no such interaction. Nevertheless, your customers’ experience can be equally personalized, in some cases even more accurately and efficiently. All you need is a data-driven eCommerce platform that allows you to collect first-hand customer data and showcase the right offer, to the right people, at the right time.
Related read: Understanding different data sources and how to use them in your venue
- Interaction and Gamification: Experiences create better connections when they are reciprocal. Meaning, when they demand some sort of interaction or participation from the other recipient, rather than having them be passive observers.
Including interaction within your eCommerce experience, such as letting your customers customise their product like in the Tony Chocolonely case, or using gamification by letting them bid for their ticket price or spinning a roulette with discounts and prices for example, will make them feel as active participants of the buying experience and strengthen their feeling of control over their decision-making.
Related read: Name Your Own Price just got a little better (and better!)
- Social commerce: Lastly, don’t forget that although most online shoppers search and buy experiences online by themselves, the final decision usually involves third parties such as spouses, partners, friends or family, and even a larger community of loyal fans that have a common experience to share. In this sense, social media and easily shareable content play a vital role in your experiential eCommerce’s success.
Not only is social selling a key part of merging your physical venue experience with your online eCommerce, but it can also help spread the word of your brand and create trust and social proof on a deeper level.
More and more, attractions are actively working on making their experiences and offer more “instagrammable” (more eye-catching and visually appealing with the purpose of generating more shares and noise on social media platforms).
Related read: Are you Instagrammable? The truth about user-generated content.
Benefits of experiential eCommerce?
By tapping into experiential eCommerce, your attraction will be benefiting from:
- Higher consumer confidence: By integrating technologies such as storytelling, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, or other types of immersive experiences, your online visitors will be much more likely to buy because they will feel they have a much better sense and understanding of the experience they are paying for.
- Increased conversion due to personalised, relevant, and contextual experiences that hit home with your ideal customer.
- A stronger bond between your brand and the consumer, thanks to the implementation of real-time interaction, which leads to better connections.
- Reaching and connecting with a much larger audience, thanks to the multiplying effect of social selling.
What do you need to get started with experiential eCommerce?
If you want to start benefiting from the benefits of experiential eCommerce and want to build outstanding online experiences for your visitors, you need at least two things:
- Customer Data Platform (CDP): A system that collects first-hand customer data.
- An eCommerce platform designed to optimise customer experience at every stage of the customer journey by learning from the collected data and adjusting accordingly.
Convious combines both by integrating the power of A.I and machine learning algorithms with a user-friendly platform that focuses on conversion at every single step of your customers’ journey, including experiential elements such as data-driven personalisation, gamification, dynamic pricing, customer reviews and feedback, interactive park maps and so much more.
Forward-looking attractions which are already betting today on building a future-focused eCommerce for their brand will be more likely to thrive tomorrow through differentiated and unique experiences, especially as digital technologies start to be more commonly integrated and become the norm in the industry.
In the end, brands that will truly win and stay ahead will be those that aim to close the gap between their online and offline worlds by offering omnichannel and experiential eCommerce experiences.