How does the new lockdown effects virtual shopping? Shopping has been transformed by the internet with more and more shopping being done online rather than in traditional stores. While the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated that trend, especially when many shops were closed during lockdowns. It has also awoken an appreciation for the bricks and mortar shop. Virtual shops help bridge that gap between the online and offline shopping experience.
The rise of internet shopping
Internet shopping has significant advantages for many people. You can avoid having to make the trek & queue at the till. We can search online for what we need and have it delivered to the door! However, physical shopping brings several advantages that online stores struggle to replicate.
While the algorithms of search engines and online stores have improved over the years they have never managed to truly replicate the act of browsing. When you are online, can’t see the similar products immediately next to each other on the shelf, or see an eye-catching offer on a nearby, but unrelated range of products.
Retailers also lose out. While online might be cheaper than the cost of retail floorspace, they see fewer spontaneous buys because online shoppers are more focused, and that has an effect on their bottom line.
The arrival of virtual shopping
Virtual stores, however, bring the advantages of online and offline shopping together. Users entering a virtual shop may still be on their sofa, but they will be looking at a shop. The interface is similar to that use in Google and Apple Maps, so shoppers are familiar and can wander around the shop’s aisles, browsing along shelves with a swipe of the finger.
In one way virtual shopping can be just like real shopping. Customers can navigate around the store, looking for the products they like and seeing alternatives while they were there. By relating it to a familiar format, the layout of their favourite store, they either know where they want to go (or enjoy finding their way there). However, it can also take advantage of being online to offer an enhanced experienced to virtual shoppers.
The virtual shop benefits
This means that shops can take advantage both of the impulse buys that come from browsing, but they can also leverage the power of the internet. Whether that’s using a product tag as a gateway to offers or a mailing list, or even passively collecting information on what is piquing shoppers’ interests.
Virtual shops also have the benefit of being able to appear anywhere themselves. Just as shoppers can visit from the comfort of their own home, the virtual store can put its front door wherever it wants. Whether that’s appearing in a social media feed or embedding the virtual shop in a Facebook page or partner website.
People are already used to walking streets virtually on their favourite mapping app, virtual shopping will come just as naturally to many people for whom the shopping is not always about buying things, it’s also about the act of shopping and browsing. Virtual shops offer the best of both worlds for the retailer and the shopper.
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