By: Madison Johnson
The day has come when technology is the heart and soul of how we as consumers spend our money. From Amazon to shopping on the FaceBook marketplace, our ways of spending money on products never ceases to evolve. Fashionsnoops’ Evolution of Retail Info Session brought on panelists LJ Worthington, Founder and CEO of TUNL, and Adam Gam Chief Marketing Officer at Perfect Corp to enlighten us on how far we’ve really come and where exactly we may go. From NTFS to Augmented Reality, we as shoppers have an array of choices for picking the perfect item for us.
Shopping is getting more personalized as the years go on and here is how:
According to Fashionsnoops, “Businesses will need to create a sense of digital agility and creative thinking to meet the future customers.” Stores are out. Ever since the pandemic the idea of going in-store to buy has died out not only due to hygiene issues but customers are lacking that urge to “see it in store”. The idea of going into malls and centers is becoming inconvenient for the average shopper, especially after the rise of Amazon. Shopping online has gotten more precise to follow this new wave. These leaps into new and innovative directions in the online-shopping industry have been divided into a few categories.
The Phygital Store
The Phygital store is driven by the development of immersive technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality, special mentions AR and VR. These innovations have inspired companies to be more engaging and informative for shoppers. The most notable example here would be Amazon.
The Amazon storefront has a style concept that incorporates a bit of engagement with QR codes, touch screens, and automatic checkouts. The Phygital store concept allows customers to have more control over their shopping experience, making it unique and curated. Invoking this comfort in the shoppers brings about a certain brand loyalty; people love the experience, and people will use that platform/brand again; Amazon is a perfect example of how they execute customer freedom to their advantage.
Social commerce has society in a chokehold, manifesting itself in different ways as people find more, and more uses for social media. Online stores are seeing a variety of new interfaces/networks such as Instagram, Tik Tok, and even Pinterest, giving customers gain a sense of variety but also comfort. Apps/platforms are continuously introducing new tools to accommodate live-stream shopping as well as in-app purchases. In addition to this, these platforms are also creating new ideologies that facilitate social commerce. Examples of this are apps such as Flip and WhatNot; Flip is an app where people can indulge in honest beauty reviews with ready-to-purchase features and shortcuts.
Those who create videos on the platform can earn money for every honest review they make. Whatnot is an app that combines reselling and live streaming. Users would log in, join a live stream on their favorite products, and bid for said product. It’s engaging and integrates community and sustainability.
It’s no surprise that these apps are being advertised on our favorite platforms considering content has taken a more personal turn. Vlog-style videos such as “GRWMs" (Get Ready With Me) and “Spend a Day With Me” have been taking the internet by storm. These videos give watchers the feeling of social closeness they seek from social media. Lots of beauty-style videos where influencers are just sitting in front of the camera and speaking to their audience gain lots of traffic online. Fip and WhatNot are using these aspects of content creation by attaching “ready to buy” options to the videos. TikTok is flooded with videos of product reviews or product mentions in these short clips people are making– these apps are taking it a step further and profiting off it.
Apps like Flip and Whatnot appeal to the creators just as much as the watchers because, as the years go on, the “influencer” lifestyle is sweeping the world. People are realizing that anyone can get online and make money off creating videos, and people declaring the commitment as a “part-time” or “full-time” content creator is common. These platforms allow these users to have another way to make money online outside of Tiktok and Instagram which may be a bit oversaturated at this point, having new “influencers” on the platform every day.
Made-to-Measure & Virtual Try-On
Lots of new technology for fitting and sizing are coming about. 3D scanning methods are becoming even easier to use and are starting to include in-depth shape and size questions. Unspun was the example used in the info session. Unspun is a brand that prides itself on “made to order” jeans, avoiding excess product creation. Unspun says you can get your jeans in just three easy steps, design, scan, and wear. The design option allows you to pick your jean style, fabric color, stitch color, lengths, and even stretch. They then ship you over to the 3D tool where Unspun can see your body and create your perfect fit. This idea of using 3D technology to avoid over-purchasing attracts the newer generation as we have an interest in sustainability.
Virtual Try-on follows the same methodologies of Made to Measure with the increase of sales and overall improvement of the e-commerce experience. Cutting back on “the more you buy, the less you use” by letting people try before they buy. Again, this is overall better for the environment and avoids contamination involved when trying products in-store (especially beauty materials).
AI-powered tools are providing greater purchasing confidence for the consumer, due to their increased accuracy. Similar to how social media feeds are curated for our liking through engagement patterns; our retail experience is following suit. All of these steps are being taken to make buying anything feel “right” for us.
When it comes to artificial intelligence and the tools that are used, there are many consumers that are unfamiliar with this form of interaction. So, from a shopping perspective, what happens to these individuals that aren't confident with AI utilization? To answer that question, they feel as if they are deserted and lost in translation. However, the great aspect of artificial intelligent recommendation is that the system does the work for the consumer. This makes the shopping experience less complex and enjoyable. Moreover, if these consumers are returning customers looking for a particular brand of clothing similar to a previous purchase, the recommendations will be easy to make a selection from based on what is already trending from their previous search history. It's very 21st century, don't you think?
How We’re Cutting Back on In-Store Purchasing
Perfect Corp’s Chief Marketing Officer, Adam Gam was brought onto the panel to speak about how Perfect Corp put augmented reality on the map, especially for the beauty community. Perfect corp has worked with Estēe Lauder, Benefit Cosmetics, Fyfe, Madison Reed, Ardell, and many others. The brand has been in the industry for about seven and half years and they plan to do even more. Gam says that Perfect Corp tries to make sure everything is color matched as it pertains to pigments and their technology has hunkered down on skin tone accuracy.
The AI aspect of Perfect does a multitude of things but its most impressive tool is skin analysis. With skin analysis users can analyze their skin and see their concerns, PerfectCorp addresses 12-14 different skin concerns. These users then can have a product recommended to target those concerns after being analyzed by the Skincare AR as well as gather a prediction of what you may look like if these skin concerns get addressed with these products. Perfect also provides a skin diary users can see over time the changes in their skin.
Gam says that Perfect targets issues such as hygiene concerns when trialing products in store, with Perfect’s technology you can get accurate try-ons right from your device, avoiding the hassle of germs, which after the pandemic became quite the dilemma. Gam says Perfect is also everyone’s friend as it pertains to accessibility and time management. It could take less than thirty seconds to try on ten different lipstick shades, no mess on the lips, no wiping off and reapplying, it’s perfect. Gam also says that Perfect’s accessible “try-before-you-buy” cuts down on product waste, allowing customers to avoid over-purchasing shades that don’t match properly, overall appealing to the sustainable wave in consumerism.
Perfect’s technology is being tweaked and revised as the years go on, it’s an omnichannel with a social, digital, and even in-store presence that has a promising future if done properly. Gam says that Perfect is now tasked with expanding its technology to fashion and jewelry working on the technology so that it can properly size items on limbs and such. It’s remarkable to think about how far we’ve come, this very well is the future the older generations gossiped about.
Shopping with NFTS?
FashionSnoops brought the CEO and Founder of TUNL, LJ Worthington, to speak about how the digital shopping world is integrating NFTS in some unique ways. Worthington says that “NFTS can be the central nervous system for consumer business”. TUNL’s mission is to make it easy for brands to create NFTS, tie them to their products, and then distribute those NFTS creating digital receipts allowing brands to interact with their customers in a new and innovative way. TUNL is paving the way for experiential commerce, a combination of social media, video games, and blockchain, and NFTS provide companies benefits by fitting in snuggly into all three of these categories.
NFTS can be sold again and again and the owner has more incentive to see that particular brand "win", bringing an even closer brand-to-consumer relationship than ever before. Worthington says that when operating in the NFT world the user has a portable community in their pocket; they serve a membership card that can be carried across the internet allowing brands to find their communities. Analytically, NFTS is a trove of data. As a brand, it’s important to know what your consumers are buying and with cookies on the decline, the digitized receipts associated with NFT usage are helpful, almost acting as a view into the consumer’s closet.
“It's not going to be a flip of a switch…everything isn't going to be ‘metaverse, NFT’ it’s just going to be there,” Worthington says that once accessible to the average person and once the interface becomes even easier to use, as time continues NFT usage is just going to become a part of life. Worthington says, like the iPhone, it will just be integrated into the aspects of society that we know and it will be hard to avoid them after a while.