Retailtainment – the future of e-commerce?

The coronavirus pandemic is giving a massive boost to e-commerce right now. At the same time, customer behavior is changing in that it is being increasingly driven by experiences, both offline and online. As a result, stimulating retailtainment is becoming more and more relevant.

Retailtainment can optimize the buying experience on a long-lasting basis.
Image: © JenkoAtaman / Adobe Stock

How e-commerce benefits from retailtainment

In light of this shift in consumer behavior and the trend toward the desire for a shopping experience, traditional retail is under enormous pressure to redefine established business processes and methods. Retailtainment offers brands a vast array of possibilities for enhancing the customer experience and adapting it to the latest developments, not only for in-store retail but also – and especially – for e-commerce. After all, it is precisely in this area that using AI, IoT and AR technologies to combine retail and entertainment has a great deal of potential. Retailtainment promises to:

  • turn digital shopping trips into experiences,
  • increase the time on site and the transaction size,
  • strengthen customer loyalty and retention in the long term, and
  • make companies viable on the market in the future.

How does retailtainment work?

A recent study showed that FOMO (fear of missing out) is a widespread phenomenon, particularly among millennials, the majority of which have become accustomed to the digital era. Around 69 percent of those surveyed said they are familiar with this feeling. In the context of the shift in consumer behavior, this explains the new level of importance put on having an experience, since FOMO was also stated as a decisive buying factor by 60 percent of respondents. This is specifically where retailtainment comes in by transforming traditional retail marketing into an entertainment program that offers customers just that: a shopping experience.

Retailtainment in practice

But how can retailtainment be implemented in practice? One prominent example from in-store retail is House of Vans in London. In addition to the sports brand’s latest products, visitors can expect a café, live acts, a skate ramp, and much more. Customers are practically taken to a different world. That this approach can also be implemented in online retail is demonstrated by the video commerce platform NTWRK, to name an example. During a fixed time slot each week, users of the platform are given the chance to attend a live session with well-known personalities who present products that they have collaborated on. In this way, the products form part of a story and thus stay in the customer’s mind better.

What does it take for retailtainment to be successful?

When it comes to retailtainment, e-commerce has a significant advantage over in-store retail: brands can reach their target groups right where they are already spending more and more time – in the digital world. However, for that to work, a good strategy is also needed. After all, not every company can pull off any given retailtainment campaign with the same level of success. If brands want to win over their target group, the added value they offer must be precisely tailored to their customers. Nevertheless, a successful retailtainment strategy always includes the following key elements:

  • Interactivity: The aim of retailtainment is to attract attention and make a lasting impression on customers. To accomplish that, interactivity is an important factor. Ultimately, when customers perform actions themselves, they store them as memories.
  • Originality: More and more companies are now leveraging the retailtainment trend. So, to stay ahead of the competition, you not only have to stay authentic, but also surprise and convince your customers with original ideas.
  • Attachment: Successful retailtainment strategies make customers form a personal attachment and give them the feeling that the product in question has been specially developed to meet their individual needs and expectations. In-depth knowledge of your own target group is therefore essential.
  • Unpredictability: Campaigns that customers don’t necessarily expect at first are also a proven technique – for example, selling products in a game, like with Shopify’s Unity Buy SDK.
  • Trustworthiness: For a retailtainment strategy to be successful, it is important that customers are able to trust in the technical processes.

Retailtainment, AI, AR, & VR

When combined with state-of-the-art technologies, retailtainment provides infinite possibilities. The fields of AI, AR, and VR are particularly interesting in this context:

  • AI: With smart assistants such as Alexa, Siri, and Cortana growing in popularity, it is becoming increasingly relevant for brands to be discoverable via audio In an online shop that is built well for this, customers can conveniently communicate with brands and place orders using voice commands.
  • VR: Virtual reality enables customers to experience products virtually and in 3D using VR glasses and controllers. One example of this would be the “Virtual Saturn” app from electronics retailer Saturn. Alongside app solutions, the first web-based virtual reality solutions are also now available in e-commerce.
  • AR: With augmented reality devices, users enter an enhanced environment in which reality and the digital world merge into one. Example: During the 2019 Fashion Week, fashion enthusiasts entered an empty LegoWear shop. Using a Snapcode, they could then open virtual shop elements in order to take a look at the available products.

Whether AI, VR, or AR: for the implementation of such technologies, good usability is obviously an absolute must in order to prevent the retailtainment campaigns from frustrating, alienating and, at worst, scaring away your customers.

Retailtainment and social media

The growing expectations of many customers are increasingly leading brands to move away from merely developing and optimizing simple ordering and payment processes. Instead, e-commerce is becoming more about implementing strategies that are increasingly complex and geared to the specific needs of the target group in question. You shouldn’t underestimate the design aspect here either – because social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest are the new form of word of mouth and extremely relevant in digital marketing. Especially since the new shopping features are being used on more and more channels, there is enormous potential here for companies to promote retailtainment campaigns and draw attention to their own shop.

Win over and retain customers using retailtainment

Traditional retail is currently undergoing a rapid transformation. For brands that want to remain viable in the future, retailtainment is a highly promising recipe for success. Take advantage of this shift in thinking for your business: if you embrace the change and use retailtainment for your company in a clever and credible way, you will be certain to strengthen customer loyalty and retention in the long term.