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Experts explain what’s shaping online retail.
By now, consumers are confident shopping online. They’re finding that online retail brings a convenience that in-store shopping can’t replicate. Consumers are also seeking out more information online, making online retail a prime opportunity for health and wellness brands to educate consumers with scientific and product information.
Emerging technology is rapidly changing the ecommerce landscape. Artificial intelligence, personalization, and content marketing each play a role in giving shoppers more convenient ways to research, compare, and buy products. Retailers and brands are harnessing these tools to improve customer convenience and brand loyalty.
Shop and Learn
Supplement brands are investing not only in ecommerce solutions but also in content marketing.
Scott Saeger, senior vice president and chief information officer at GNC, says GNC is first off doubling down on its own digital transformation with a refreshed, optimized website and a new mobile app to provide easy access to GNC’s resources. “Consumers’ comfort and confidence in purchasing supplements online is improving,” Saeger says. “This shift is driven by several factors, including more convenient shopping experiences, a wide selection of products, and being able to easily make a purchase online.”
In addition to investing in ecommerce technology, the company is strengthening its educational and scientific initiatives. Providing information about wellness and nutrition not only helps consumers but also builds their loyalty to a brand. GNC is currently using its online Learning Center to do just that.
New Technologies Lead the Way
Ecommerce is more immersive and personalized today. Emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and digital live selling enable retailers to create more touchpoints with shoppers than ever before, Saeger says.
“Virtual and augmented reality can allow consumers to explore brands and products in an entirely new way through better access to a curated assortment [of products],” he explains. “Knowing that consumers are hyperfocused on finding science-based educational content to inform their wellness goals, offering innovative digital venues to bring the in-store experience to consumers allows GNC to stand out in a crowded market.”
GNC is finding new ways to create a unique customer experience. For instance, consumers own multiple devices, meaning that there’s a unique opportunity to engage those devices in a cross-functional manner, Saeger says. Last year, GNC announced the launch of voice-activated online ordering for Amazon Alexa users. Retailers and brands that can leverage these kinds of technologies will find entirely new ways of helping customers shop.
Personalization and AI Change the Game
Saeger says personalization will be vital for brands to thrive this year. While personalizing the ecommerce experience can be challenging, artificial intelligence is making the task easier, he says. With AI, brands can make customized product recommendations based on browsing and purchase history while simultaneously using other sources of data to create a more engaging online shopping experience.
“There are other extensions to AI that can positively impact the consumer experience, like targeted discounts,” Saeger says. “Retailers can also implement promotional structures based on propensity to buy and then optimize inventory management to ensure we have the right product in the right place at the right time.”
Personalization and convenience are two major priorities today. Whether it’s a subscription service like GNC’s Routines program, social media and influencer commerce, or augmented reality, Saeger says technology will influence what comes next.
Online Retail to Dominate in 2023
Ecommerce will continue to grow in 2023, building on the momentum established during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers are increasingly comfortable ordering more products online, and with new content strategies and emerging technologies like augmented reality and AI, retailers have more ways to connect with consumers online than ever before. As opportunities expand, the brands that succeed will be the ones that embrace innovation and experimentation with these new technologies.