Dreaming about the Future of Brand.com

The FITCH Brand.com Dream blog series explores how a brand’s website can function beyond a simple transaction, and tap into the Dreaming mindstate to become a meaningful experience filled with delight and discovery. Catch up on blog 1 here, and blog 2 here.

In the third and final blog of the series, Siân Novaković, Strategy Director at FITCH London, looks to the future…

As the reality of our new world sets in, the need to create incredible shopping experiences online becomes paramount.

The advantage of Dreaming

Major marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba outpace the ecommerce sector on immediate gratification and best-in-class logistics, but they are weaker when it comes to meaningful brand-to-person connections. This is where opportunities are opening up for other retailers.

COVID-19 has made us rely on ecommerce, and test it. There’s an increasing demand for distinctive shopping experiences, where consumers can be made to feel something online. Consumers want to dream. They expect ecommerce sites to deliver on their Dreaming shopper missions as physical flagships do, allowing them to be inspired, learn and have fun. These new expectations are creating a gap on the marketplace websites, a gap waiting to be filled by smart brands: an ecommerce experience gap.

A website can no longer function as a generic, sales volume-driving channel, designed to fulfil Locating shopper missions. It needs to be a Brand.com; an experiential space to deepen engagement, and that requires smart tech adoption.

FITCH has compiled the 5 top tech innovations you need to follow:

1. Motion — A Visual Sensation

One of the main limitations of experiential ecommerce is selling products that customers can’t get hands-on with. Advancing capabilities in motion design are generating new digital product realities, capturing previously unseen details of products online. This emulates the physical, in-store experience, offering a previously unattainable depth of product exploration. ManvsMachine’s recent ‘Evolution of Sleep’ series for Purple digitally brings to life the feeling of the product. It communicates every element of the mattress as it twists, turns and compresses, showcasing its elasticity and comfort. This is online sensorial sensation at its best.

2. Interactive 3D Visualisation

The Yeezy Supply website is credited with turning the rules of ecommerce on its head, transforming a flat 2D space into a “3D rule-breaking web experiment,”. Customers can select avatar-like 3D images of real models and try clothing on the model of their choice. This Brand.com is a place where customers can experiment using smart visualisation. Shifting user behaviour from looking at static images to actively interacting with virtual product increases purchase liklihood (either during that session or later) and boosts time spent with the brand.

3. Immersive AR

AR is becoming more accessible, empowering customers to dream big by testing, trying and visualising products virtually.

IKEA Place has become the benchmark in AR app technology, allowing customers to virtually ‘place’ proucts in their homes using visual search functions. The latest version of IKEA Place is imminent and plans to pioneer the use of AR through a more seamless ecommerce link. It will integrate the tech into its main website, making it easier to view the full range and purchase products.

It will also include features that enhance customer creativity. Studio Mode will use detailed 3D depth information to interpret user’s homes and allow them to digitally furnish the walls, ceilings, seats and table tops — previously hard to reach places for AR. This new application facilitates customers as designers of their own spaces, allowing them to truly use their imagination and let Dreaming come to the fore as they create their perfect interior.

IKEA Place is not only an important vehicle in creating WOM attention, but its upgrade ensures play at brand.com leads to higher conversion rates too.

4. Curated Machine Learning

Tech startups are turning data science into something personal to create new ecommerce purchase models. Stitch Fix pioneers this approach. Using a smart mix of intelligent machine learning tools and expert human judgement, it has created an ecommerce platform that allows customers to dream about fashion, backed by science.

It uses a proprietary algorithm and AI to covert client Style Profile data and fashion attribute data into a unique clothing mix recommendation, relevant to the style of each customer. For a small (redeemable) fee, customers get to spend time learning about their likes, dislikes and needs, rather than scanning and searching.

This smart application of data-science at ecommerce combines the powerful feeling of finding something you weren’t expecting to, with the practicalities of knowing it will fit you and your budget, driving a higher likelihood of repeat sales.

5. Virtually assisted, social selling

Conversational and assisted shopping are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They are a key route to building stronger relationships via ecommerce, enabling a level of tailored service previously limited to luxury consumers.

COVID-19 has shown the importance of enabling staff to interact with, and service, online customers. With ecommerce visitors more likely to purchase after receiving human assistance, smart tech applications that help sales staff talk through and bring products to life have huge engagement potential. DECIEM at Home connects customers with its in-store ‘micro-influencers’ for in-real-time consultations using video links.

Getting ahead of the ecommerce giants isn’t just about short-term tactical responses, it’s about a longer-term play to unlock Dreaming missions and forge better customer connections. Hosting a Brand.com experience over a functional website is an untapped investment.

Bold companies that invest in ecommerce and innovative tech will emerge as the future leaders. The longer retailers wait to integrate these types of technologies into their design flow, the more opportunities they will miss.

At FITCH we understand the unique requirements of each brand. Our global experience experts are constantly working with emerging technologies and assessing customer behaviors to keep our clients two steps ahead of the pack. If you’d like to book in your brand’s DEL audit with our Chief Strategy Officer Morgan Holt — get in touch: hello@fitch.com

Follow Siân as well as FITCH on LinkedIn

FITCH is a global design consultancy. Designing the Future. Online, offline and in person.