If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, the news has been rather grim lately. Chain after chain has announced mass store closings as digital giants like Amazon have cornered the market share on low-cost-high-convenience purchases and home delivery. Business Insider recently reported that as many as 7,000 big-name stores will close this year.
For years e-commerce has taken the world by storm, re-writing everything we know about marketing. Nowadays you can’t go through two pages on the internet without stumbling across the option to buy something from a digital store. We’ve even come to depend on the presence of an omnipresent digital store to fulfill our daily needs (see Amazon’s grocery service).
It’s not so shocking, then, that the digital world of shopping has entered a new phase in its evolution: Virtual commerce.
Gone are the halcyon days of static product images next to a little shopping cart symbol. The internet wizards have cooked up another crazy idea – combine the experience of an actual store with the anywhere-accessibility of the internet.
Sometimes change can be scary. Don’t worry, though. We’re here to bring you four reasons you should become one with cyberspace and jump on the v-commerce train before it leaves the station – and two reasons you might want to sit this one out.
In all seriousness, though, v-commerce picked up where e-commerce left off when it comes to market reach. The internet is everywhere, all the time. If you’ve got products you want to sell and a large target market, v-commerce is a good idea. Not only are the storefronts more engaging (e.g., Alibaba’s Buy+) but seeing the product in a 3D space is a language that transcends all barriers. And now with the growth of mobile e-commerce, v-commerce is poised to make your reach nearly infinite.
Think you’re the next Steve Jobs? Have you created the new great invention that no one will be able to live without? V-commerce will help you get your product out there in a more interactive way.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a freakin’ dragon attempt to sell you a new TV? What about if Taylor Swift appeared in your living room and told you some behind-the-scenes information as demos of her latest tracks played?
With v-commerce, all of this is possible.
The beauty of virtual reality is that you can program all sorts of cool things to show off your products. Set up live virtual demonstrations to help customers see how your product works. Give demos to show people how your product fits in the real world. As we discussed in an early blog post, IKEA has an app using augmented reality that does this perfectly.
With v-commerce, the possibilities are endless. We live in a world where you have all the tools at your fingertips to engage your consumers in a spectacular and memorable way. Whatever you can imagine, you can create.
The big thing now is data collection. From the moment you log on to the world wide web, companies are collecting information on your interests, likes and dislikes to create a marketing profile. This is used to serve you ads that better meet your needs and are more appealing to you. But until now, that’s where consumer targeting stopped.
With v-commerce, target marketing has been revolutionized once again. With the proliferation of personal assistants like Siri, Bixby, Google and Alexa, data can be collected well beyond the confines of cyberspace. In addition, initiating shopping has never been easier. People can search products, browse options, and make purchases all by issuing commands to integrated AI.
In the future, these digital helpers may even be able to pull up virtual storefronts. But if you don’t optimize your business for v-commerce, you miss your chance to become part of a growing trend – and the opportunity to snap up a share of the market.
We mentioned how integrated AI is key to the operation of v-commerce markets. This is also a benefit to you.
V-commerce lets the algorithms and AI do the work for you. While it’s not entirely a set-it-and-forget it approach, v-commerce allows you to take it easy when it comes to selling your product.
V-commerce takes the window-shopping experience of a brick-and-mortar establishment and puts it online. However, there are very important differences between these virtual stores and actual stores. For starters, there’s no need for a store manager or sales associates or even call centers. The integrated AI handles all of those functions to deliver a sales experience that is flawless.
V-commerce is the ultimate route for cutting down on costs while maximizing profits.
If you’ve seen Rene Magritte’s famous “This is not a pipe” painting, you’re familiar with the idea that symbols or images are not the actual thing itself.
V-commerce is all well and good if you’re selling say, handbags or electronics. But the whole virtual store concept starts to fall apart when your business is predominantly service based.
While getting your haircut or having a suit tailored through the magic of virtual reality sounds super cool, we aren’t there yet. If you work in an industry that requires a more personal touch when dealing with customers, don’t be afraid to bow out of the v-commerce race.
While brick-and-mortar retail might be suffering, brick-and-mortar services are alive and well.
It sucks being a little fish in a big pond. That’s why when you finally find your niche, you’re probably pretty reluctant to leave it.
Maybe you’re happy being a local business with a low geographic profile. Or maybe that’s really all you can afford to be right now.
If this is the case, v-commerce is not for you. As we mentioned before, v-commerce opens up the floodgates of global e-markets, and if you’re not prepared to handle them, you can quickly get overwhelmed.
Not every business needs to be a global superpower. Stick to your guns, and do what your business does best.
Still feeling a little out of your depth? No worries. Stealth Creative is at the forefront of marketing and advertising. If anyone knows whether it makes sense for you to go virtual, it’s us. Drop us a line today, and we’ll navigate the digital world together.
As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.
Well, it’s that time of year again: Fourth quarter marketing audit time. A time of extra coffee, the pulling of proverbial teeth, and long nights spent compiling four quarters worth of marketing analytics into an investor-friendly report.
Keeping a constant eye on the world of marketing technologies, or MarTech for short, can be a never-ending task. Every business is looking for ways to set themselves apart from the competition, and using technology is a great way to do it.
New technologies are coming faster than ever before. And as technology changes, so do the things your business needs to do for success. But in a world saturated by MarTech, where do you turn?
Well, we’ve got good news. The supersonic pace of digital marketing trends may seem overwhelming, but it’s really about what works best for you.
So let’s put your fears to rest with these tips on how to keep up with digital marketing.
Augmented reality, virtual reality, ads on streaming music services, ads on virtual assistants, traditional email marketing, social media marketing, and more. Where does it end? How can you possibly do it all?
Psst. Here’s a secret. You ready? You’ll want to write this down:
You don’t need all of it.
The most successful businesses are the ones that realize which marketing strategies work best for them.
Like people, businesses each have their own style. And when you find yours, it just works.
For example, if you’re a local ice sculptor (a popular career choice, we know), it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to focus on VR technology. Sure, a 3D swan made of ice is pretty cool (no pun intended), but do you really need all that expensive hardware when a photo catalog will do? Chances are you aren’t looking for customers outside of your immediate area, and you probably have the market cornered (let’s be honest, here). In this case, a simple bit of software that helps organize customer orders will suffice.
Now if you’re a regional or national chain store, you need to go that extra mile to separate yourself from the competition. Building your own burger with an Augmented Reality Wendy’s app? That sounds like a hot idea (ok, this time it was intentional).
So don’t feel like you’re missing out if you aren’t keeping up with all the latest advances in MarTech. Remember, you know what your business needs better than anybody else.
While blindly following every new MarTech trend isn’t recommended, successful businesses ought to keep an open mind towards new trends in their particular field.
Knowledge is power, and knowing what the options look like in your industry puts you that much closer to dominating it.
Subscribing to a trade magazine or following the social media posts of thought leaders in your industry are great ways to stay informed about the latest trends and happenings in your sector.
You might even discover some new trick or technique you’ve never thought of before. (For example, a “Build Your Own Ice Swan” feature on your website (if we’re continuing with the ice sculptor theme). Sometimes something simple is all it takes, and you’ll find that old-school MarTech can be combined with new applications for a truly great strategy.
Trade shows are another great way to stay up on the latest trends. (Are there ice sculptor trade shows?) This allows you to keep up to date on the direction your industry is heading, and network at the same time. If you have something particularly noteworthy to share, you might wind up being the business other businesses come to for advice.
But remember, if you’re paying attention to your business landscape, you can be sure your competition is as well. There really is no reason you shouldn’t be keeping an ear to the ground. It’s sure to give you the edge needed to stand out and conquer your field.
You might be subscribed to all the popular trade magazines. You might be better at ignoring MarTech hysteria than LeBron is at ignoring Cleveland. But there are still only so many hours in the day.
The biggest challenge businesses face in choosing how to use MarTech, is recognizing when you have too much to handle alone.
There will come a point where you’ll have to choose between keeping your icy creations from melting too soon, or devoting increasing amounts of time and resources towards finding, creating and implementing a custom digital marketing strategy.
This is a good problem to have. It’s the sign of a healthy, growing business.
We know: Handing your MarTech over to someone else is a big decision. But if your business refuses to seize the day by asking for help, further growth is just going to get harder and harder.
You don’t want to pick just anybody to run your MarTech strategy. You’ll want someone who knows your industry and your needs – and who’s willing to work with you to meet your goals.
Stealth keeps tabs on a variety of industries; so we’re always in the know on the latest trends. Whether your business is big or small, we know just how to find which MarTech works best for you, and how to help you get the most out of it.
So when you finally decide to cross your Rubicon and claim your business empire, drop us a line, and let us be your legion.
As always, stay tuned for more great tips next time we go Off the Radar.