Have you been wondering how to engage your online shoppers better? With the growing acceptance of immersive technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality, online retail is evolving past simple transactions to a complete shopping and entertainment experience. How do you equip your eCommerce site to better achieve this?
Increasing engagement with digital commerce has been one of the major trends emerging from the pandemic, and shoppers are increasingly seeking a richer online experience. This creates a great deal of complexity – but also offers the opportunity to evolve. As a result of this shopper-driven evolution, digital properties are becoming retailers’ flagship stores. The purchasing process is becoming more interactive today, as the internet moves towards its next phase: the immersive internet, or the metaverse.
The technology behind the metaverse
The metaverse is the next level of the internet, and certain new technologies are powering them. These include:
- Augmented Reality
- Virtual Reality
- 3D imagery
As complex technologies that demand high processing power and security, they also create a need for cloud computing that’s growing by the day.
Transforming cloud retail: Usecases for technologies
Using augmented reality, customers visiting a virtual store can “try on” the product that they are shopping for. This is ideal for fashion-related retail brands, such as makeup, eyewear, apparel and shoes. It’s also very useful for furniture and furnishing products. This powers the “try and buy” feature of IKEA Place, Oakley, Nike, and many more.
To a large extent, this does away with the need for physical samples and eliminates some logistical challenges. It also increases purchase confidence and reduces returns. While the last two decades of online shopping have been based around 2D imagery, the new interactive 3D imagery is breaking down the gap between online and offline shopping experiences.
AWS, “the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform”, offers a number of tools and services that facilitate interactive and 3D immersive experiences. This includes Amazon Sumerian, “a set of browser-based tools for creating high-quality virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D applications easily without requiring any programming or 3D graphics expertise.”
While the metaverse has not yet achieved its full potential, it is the next phase of the internet. Brands have the time to prepare to claim the power of the metaverse, which is a new way to use the internet and engage your audience. Young consumers often log on to metaverses, including immersive online gaming platforms, simply to interact with their friends, hang out and attend events, as they used to at malls. People don’t log on to the metaverse to shop; the intent is simply to socialize and spend some time with friends around the world.
As a result, an interesting new theme is that of purchasing high-fashion products for use by avatars in the metaverse or on major gaming platforms like Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox instead of for physical or personal use. “These non-tangible goods … are already a $190B market”, says CB Insights. “Jordan Brand, Levi’s, and Ralph Lauren have teamed up with Snapchat to sell outfits for Bitmoji avatars. Furthermore, Nike, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton have partnered with Fortnite, Roblox, and League of Legends to sell virtual outfits”, says AWS.
Using Amazon Managed Blockchain, Amazon API Gateway, and AWS Lambda, you can create a “complete NFT marketplace application”. Attempting to create an NFT marketplace without public cloud infrastructure support can be needlessly challenging, as you would need to make other arrangements for your own blockchain authentication.
Some brands are offering live infotainment options on their online stores, setting a new standard for content marketing. An example is livestreaming by influencers on the website or owned brand channels. In the past, the seller would create the site and offer information, based on which the buyer would decide whether or not to make the purchase. By pushing live video content, the purchasing process has become more interactive and engaging, allowing buyers to ask questions to an influencer, MC or seller, and select the right option for their own unique needs.
Live commerce involves streaming on your own channel, delivering synchronized live video to large audiences. This is a challenge when handled on unmanaged cloud servers. Instead, public cloud services like AWS offer tools like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Interactive Video Service (Amazon IVS) for “end-to-end live stream video transcoding and distribution, which delivered immediate improvements in latency along with cost savings”. These services can be integrated into your eCommerce site.
Why you need to use cloud services for your retail website
Whether it’s for livestreaming, integrating NFTs or AR modules on your online store, it’s important to ensure that your underlying infrastructure can support these modern technologies. “Organizations of every type, size, and industry are using the cloud for a wide variety of usecases, such as data backup, disaster recovery, email, virtual desktops, software development and testing, big data analytics, and customer-facing web applications,” says AWS.
The IDC forecasts that “worldwide ‘whole cloud’ spending” will reach $1.3 Trillion by 2025. “Combined spending on shared cloud services – Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), System Infrastructure Software-as-a-Service (SISaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 21.0% through 2025, reaching $809 billion.”
eCommerce sites that leverage cloud technology gain a few key benefits:
- Faster website loading: During peak traffic requirements, the server capacity made available automatically increases to suit the demand. This kind of flexibility and accessibility is key to a quality eCommerce experience.
- Efficient testing and development: Test databases can be vast, and deploying them on the server can be expensive. On the public cloud, it is possible to isolate testing environments to reduce the demand on the server.
- Big data analytics: Very large eCommerce sites gather a vast variety of consumer information. Using AI systems and high processing speeds made available by the public cloud, this data can be analyzed to create valuable, actionable insights.
- Security: Protection against DDoS attacks is expensive. Since the public cloud hosts a huge number of sites, most cloud service providers can invest in the complex software, hardware and technical support needed for this kind of cybersecurity.
Some years ago, eCommerce was centered around the desktop experience. Today, the priority is on mobile shopping, and even the Internet of Things experience. Immersive retail is the future – the metaverse, a far-fetched dream just a few years ago, is becoming reality. Headless commerce, in which the frontend and backend of the online store are decoupled, uses the cloud to improve flexibility, scalability and speed, and make the creation of new experiences easier.
Legacy applications designed for the desktop experience are truly outdated. Tweaking this kind of older technology is invariably a waste of time – as Vince Koh, AWS Head of Worldwide Digital Commerce Solutions, says, “they work until they don’t”! Work with an up-to-date team of cloud services experts to constantly explore, build and grow, to become more productive and profitable. Contact our team at Ziffity today!