From home improvement to fashion, retailers across verticals are using video to create customer-centric digital experiences that anticipate and respond to customer needs.

Image credit: Unsplash

Brick and mortar retailers were struggling against online competition long before foot traffic diminished in 2020 — the latest research from McKinsey suggests that the pandemic merely accelerated a trend which is here to stay: even after the COVID-19 crisis is over, consumers expect to shift more of their shopping habits entirely online, with a 45-100% increase across different verticals. In this changing environment, video presents an opportunity to connect customers with your company’s values and brand in a way that is both engaging and humanizing.

While some changes in customer behavior had already developed before the pandemic, the crisis has affected customer behavior in more direct ways. On both sides of the Atlantic, traditional models of customer loyalty have shifted:

Given the unprecedented circumstances of 2020, many retailers have turned to video as a stand-in for in-person interactions. In the second part of this article, we’ll look at innovative ways retailers around the globe are responding to customer needs through video.

It’s important to keep in mind that video is both a communication channel and a medium — one which offers a dynamism, and a sense of human connection, whether it’s a video call in real time or a clip streamed months after it was filmed. The smartest digital strategists understand the technical differences between the types of video on offer and the more effective way to implement each. There is no single video technology: live streaming and video calls might seem very similar, but they rely on different technologies and are differentiated by latency — an imperceptible <200 ms for a one-on-one video call or webinar to 100 people, versus a five to twenty-second delay for a typical live streaming event.

In terms of implementing a video strategy for retail, it’s important to differentiate between types of video offering so that you pick the best partner for the job. Daily is 100% dedicated to video with experience across verticals and a deep understanding of the best technologies suited to different projects. Whether your brand prides itself on customer care, no-nonsense sales, or the swiftest returns process, video can support your purpose.

How you use video will be unique to your mission, but there are best practices and principles retailers should keep in mind when building.

Using video for customer engagement: best practices

  • Leverage real-time video to streamline the customer journey

As customers switch to online, video chat is a great opportunity to connect reps with customers. The latest research from McKinsey shows that the best performing sales reps spend 22% more time with customers. The majority of customers state that they prefer that time to be spent remotely.

  • Integrate video chat into messaging platforms like Intercom, for a streamlined, personal experience

The Daily API makes it easy to connect with customers through Intercom or any other chat widget, so that you can weave video throughout the customer journey. Combine this information with your CRM or customer sales history to offer personalized offers: 25% of customers say that personalized promotions can trigger a purchase.  

  • Leverage real-time cobrowsing

Gartner wrote about the benefits of cobrowsing back in 2017 and this is an approach more retailers should be using. According to Forbes, customer service interactions involving co-browsing show customer satisfaction rates of 89.3%. Using a video platform like Daily, customers can share their screen with sales reps to share their sources of inspiration, allowing sales reps to provide more personalized recommendations.  

  • Build on video to create unique, native, digital experiences

Our friends at Bluecadet have written extensively about augmented reality. AR “overlays digital content and information onto the physical world” to create a novel, unique, native digital experience that can fuse the dynamism of video with the familiarity of the real world. During these house-bound days, AR can provide customers with a sense of fun and entertainment, as well as showcasing your company’s offerings and digital expertise. (Bluecadet have also talked to Fast Company about new product ideas leveraging video chat, which they explored using the Daily API.)

How top retailers across the globe use video to create customer-centric experiences that respond to real needs

With online shopping becoming the norm, top online retailers are using video to go beyond problem solving. Retailers who prioritize innovation and customer experience must consider the affordances of video, not just as it relates to the customer journey, but in terms of the unique advantages it can offer. Here are some of the best examples out there from retailers across the globe.

Images credit: Ikea

Sharing competences, regardless of geography and timezone

Long before the pandemic, IKEA was toying with ways they could add a personal touch to the digital experience. The Samsyn app offers customer support via video in five key areas:  troubleshooting, interior design help, kitchen follow-up, support for smart home solutions and language support. IKEA aims to “digitally pair” customer needs with staff who have the right competences, regardless of barriers such as timezone or geography.

Providing in-home services remotely

Earlier in the year, Lowe’s launched Lowe’s for Pros JOBSIGHT, an augmented video chat service connecting small businesses, such as contractors or interior designers, with customers. The service, which launched in June, is part of a wider effort to help support small businesses during the covid crisis. Through their app, Pros can talk prospective customers through a redesign, or identify what parts might need to be ordered for a repair, or even guide customers through easy repairs — all without ever entering their customers’ homes.

Bridging in-person and online shopping — and keeping a pulse on customer sentiment

Best-known for their washable, merino wool sneakers, San Francisco-based clothing company AllBirds opened four stores in China in 2019. When the pandemic hit, their online sales and live chat teams got slammed. To respond to the crisis, the company began connecting customers with in-store sales associates via video chat, so that reps could respond to queries personally while modeling shoes and demonstrating how to style them.

Erick Haskell, Allbirds company president has said in an interview that the company is looking to preserve this feature moving forwards. Not only does it result in more personalized customer care, but it provides an instant pulse on customer sentiment, and allows the company to be “more flexible and nimble” in their strategy decisions.

Providing department store demonstrations in customers' living rooms

In-store demonstrations and testers are a fundamental part of how premium brands have historically connected with beauty devotees. It would take a feat of wizardry to maintain those same demonstrations while keeping six feet apart.

In response, big brands and local salons alike have been turning to video consultations. With over 800,000 YouTube followers, it makes sense that make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury’s beauty line would lead the charge on this. Her company is one of many beauty lines who’ve expanded the number of online consultations they’re doing with online customers.

Image credit: Unsplash

Aligning video with brand values to support customers in a time of need

Nike’s recent move to lift the paywall on their Nike Training App is a great example of a company using traditional video to support customers and deliver on brand values. With its credo of empowerment and strength, Nike has a long history of putting its money where its mouth is in this regard. When the pandemic hit, the company removed the $14.99 monthly paywall from the Nike Training Club app and gave access to all Nike online members. While the app offers various trackers to help you stay on top of personal goals, its major draw is the content: the app is packed with video workouts to supplement real life workout classes.

Want to learn more about using video chat and video solutions for retail?

With Daily, you can start building live video with a couple of lines of code. We have deep experience across industries and verticals, and we offer great support along the way.