With everything happening online, from runway shows, virtual fitting rooms, or Travis Scott’s virtual concert inside a video game, virtual shopping events are attracting more and more users worldwide. Now, in-store experience can be substituted by virtual reality, which turns remote shopping into a stress-free activity.
Owing to the outbreak of COVID-19, no matter how big or small a business is, a growing number of brands is switching to virtual retail and going digital-first. And for a good reason. E-commerce sales worldwide are expected to win a total of $5.5 trillion in 2022. If you’re impressed by these numbers as much as we are, read on to find out what’s behind the term virtual shopping, how to open and run your virtual store, and make your virtual shopping events an event to remember.
101: What Is Virtual Shopping?
COVID-19 quarantine restrictions and lockdowns became the main reason people started living their lives online. The same happened to retail, where more than 50% of all customers now prefer online shopping. Sadly, e-commerce websites can’t fully substitute the experience of shopping in an offline store.
Virtual shopping became a blend of an online virtual store and a physical store with a human touch. It combines online and in-store experiences, allowing customers to find the best product easily. With the help of the virtual store platform, users can connect with employees and ask any questions or take a closer look at items in stock.
Running a virtual shopping event has many obvious advantages, as this is a great way to communicate with a large audience at a relatively low cost. These live events can gather thousands or even millions of potential customers at the same time, which would be hard to achieve offline. It can expand your brand’s visibility, enlarge customer engagement, and increase sales conversion if done right.
Types of Virtual Shopping Experience
Buying On Website
Many brands prefer having a virtual shopping store right on their official website. The main reason behind that is loyalty. If customers have been visiting the brand’s webpage for years, the chances they’ll continue doing so are high.
Virtual online shopping via a website can’t do without such essentials as communication channels (live or video chat, instant messaging), cobrowsing, and the possibility to make in-video purchases right on the spot.
Equipped with headsets only, anyone can take a walk round a simulation of stores in a virtual shopping center. An outstanding example is VI-Mall — a Malaysian virtual mall that opened its digital doors and let its visitors interact with the consultants via chat. On top of that, it’s highly interactive offering a 360° product view, which is believed to reduce the return rates.
Contrary to the virtual mall experience, the virtual store experience is focused on a single shop. It lets you walk around a replica of a physical store, which is even more fun if you’ve visited the physical store before. The customers can browse free or get a consultation provided by a guide.
Virtual reality tools come into play when mostly talking about interior design. IKEA went big and created a special virtual shopping experience by putting their customers in charge of designing the kitchen of their dream. The VR technology lets you customize the design all you want and even offers you to see the surroundings from the child’s perspective.
Virtual Shopping Events, a.k.a Live Shopping
Virtual shopping events are also known as live shopping.
They share many features:
- High level of interaction and engagement;
- Wide use of technology tools as in-video purchases;
- Option to interact with the host/guides in real-time;
- Hosting events via apps, platforms, or brand’s website.
Examples of Successful Virtual Shopping Events
Here are five great examples of successful virtual shopping events.
Three UK live online demonstrations
The company combined in-store and online experiences to connect with their customers and improve the purchasing process. With the help of live video broadcasting, Three UK employees interacted with viewers online. During these real-time communications, the team gave responses to thousands of questions and helped make the buying decision with a human feel. During this one-to-many virtual shopping experience, the team answered around 20,000 questions and showed a 5 percent conversion increase.
Rag & bone virtual shopping
Sizing and the right fit were the main concern of rag & bone customers. So the company has decided to use virtual shopping as a great solution with a human feel. During online one-to-one video conversations, staff members answered customers’ questions and helped to choose the best-fitting product. The results were impressive: 20.3% conversion rate and $292 AOV (average order value). The attention to detail ensured that every customer got the right product, which led to a significant decrease in the return rate.
Hyundai online streaming
Choosing a car can be stressful and overwhelming. Hyundai chose to ease this process with live video broadcasting. They have hosted multiple virtual shopping events for nine months to answer customers’ questions and help them through the buying journey. This successful promo ensured 70 pre-qualified leads monthly, with 14% engaged viewers (watched for 3+ minutes) and more than 1 million total views. And it also showed an increase in customer satisfaction rate (93%) and helped 16% of engaged viewers in booking a test drive of a Hyundai car.
Knix virtual fitting room
The Covid-19 pandemic forced the Knix company to go from offline to online. They have created a virtual fitting room that allows customers to find the perfect fit and have an in-store experience from the comfort of their house. This virtual shopping idea was a success, as 97% of all time slots were booked, and Knix hosted thousands of fittings monthly. The engagement numbers were also impressive: 35,000 customers were shopping simultaneously, and they also had 5,000 people at checkout at the same time.
Benefit Cosmetics’ live makeup tutorials
Teaching how to use companies’ products practically is a great way to attract more customers. Benefit Cosmetics held online makeup tutorials on Facebook to show off the products, create easy-to-follow looks and engage with users virtually. As an example, their “brow-mazing glow-up” Facebook live event gathered over 2.4K online viewers.
How To Host Virtual Shopping Events On Your Company’s Website
Getting ready for a virtual shopping event is the most important step in making it a success. Nowadays, technologies allow running online events on multiple different platforms. But, hosting a virtual event on your company’s website is one of those options that works best when you want to secure loyal customers and attract new ones. Besides, it’s a great way to get the detailed stats for your live event, like average time viewed, click-through rate, and average order value.
When engaging with a large online audience, there are multiple factors to be aware of. Get prepared to host virtual shopping events on your company’s website with this step-by-step instruction:
Choose a type of event
People will be more interested in participating in the virtual event on your website if they understand what to expect from it. This could be a learning experience for the users if you host your virtual shopping event in the form of a webinar, guide, or tutorial. This way, users can learn how to use your product before buying it. New releases and product reviews are also great themes for your live event.
Partner with sponsors or experts
Collaboration with a sponsor, supplier, or an industry expert can significantly boost interest in your virtual shopping event. This brings co-branding and cross-promotional opportunities. You can agree in advance to do some giveaways, special offers, and sales during the live event.
Suppliers can talk about insights and behind-the-scenes product creation which would bring more trust to the brand. Experts can also attract more sales by providing an honest and detailed review of the product.
If you’ve already partnered with experts but still can’t decide on the best platform for your virtual store — go for Be.Live and run engaging virtual shopping events with your guests and viewers. Request a Be.Live Demo to learn how.
Promote virtual shopping events
Promotion is key to a successful virtual shopping event. No matter how big or small your company is, people won’t be able to find out about your event without proper publicity.
Create a banner or a separate page on the website dedicated to your live event. Mention all the essential details like date and time, theme, and add a registration button. You can then promote in various ways: via an email newsletter, in videos, podcasts, on social media accounts, etc. You can also ask sponsors, vendors, experts, and everyone else who is included to promote it on their channels as well.
Make a recording of the virtual shopping event
Having a record of your virtual shopping event gives several advantages. Firstly, you can use it as content for your further marketing needs: branding, presentations, success stories, blog posts, and statistics.
Secondly, you can always use it to look back and improve future events. Most live videos software offers a video recording option. It is also important to warn the viewers about the video recording and add a disclaimer.
With Be.Live, it’s possible not only to record your virtual live events but also edit them in the built-in Video Editor tool, which displays info about all the interactions in your stream. Request a Be.Live demo and find out more.
Sum up your experience and make conclusions
Once the virtual shopping event is over, you need to evaluate the results. Compare your expectations with the achieved goal. The metrics vary depending on your target and could be:
- the number of viewers;
- the sum of total answered questions;
- the percent of an engaged and active audience;
- the number of sales.
Most virtual event tools can gather this type of statistics for you. You can also send out a survey to get feedback from the audience. Based on this gained experience, you can work on the improvements for future events.
What is a virtual retailer?
A virtual retailer is an online reseller store that combines virtual shopping with an in-store experience. It makes the buying process interactive by allowing customers to connect with staff members via different communication channels and get expert advice and product details.
How do you create a virtual shopping event?
To create a successful virtual shopping event:
- Set your goals and targets;
- Choose the hosting platform or an app;
- Set the time and date of the event;
- Promote the event;
- Include coordinator and moderators;
- Actively engage with the audience;
- Send follow-up emails and surveys;
- Make conclusions.
How do you sell at virtual events?
Here are the keys to a selling virtual shopping event:
- Invite a host who’s able to grow conversions;
- Select a topic that’s in line with what you’re selling that will resolve your customer’s pressure points;
- Run A/B tests to see what exactly worked at generating sales;
- Add catchy CTAs throughout the video.
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