Go Instore - Bringing Physical Store Experiences Online

Virtual shopping uses the latest media technologies to bridge physical and online experiences, adding value through human connections.

A Changing Retail World

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends that were already on the rise such as remote working, online learning, videoconferencing and online entertainment. If there is a trend though which has seen the most significant acceleration this has been e-commerce.

A Changing Retail World

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends that were already on the rise such as remote working, online learning, videoconferencing and online entertainment. If there is a trend though which has seen the most significant acceleration this has been e-commerce.

A Changing Retail World

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends that were already on the rise such as remote working, online learning, videoconferencing and online entertainment. If there is a trend though which has seen the most significant acceleration this has been e-commerce.

According to Statista, in 2020, e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 4.28 trillion US dollars, compared to 3.35 trillion US dollars in 2019, with revenues projected to grow to 5.4 trillion US dollars in 2022. In the UK, in only one year, the Office for National Statistics reported a 46.1% growth in e-commerce in 2020 compared to 2019, the highest annual growth reported since 2008.

In this context of exponential growth, many retailers have entered the online market for the first time. At the same time, consumers who were previously used to shop in physical locations have started to rely more and more on e-commerce. With consumers becoming more confident in online shopping, they also started to become more demanding, asking for more user-friendly and immersive online shopping experiences.

Leveraging on the potential of new technologies, businesses have started to tap into this new consumer trend, implementing solutions to provide a more immersive shopping experience, closing the gap between in-person and online shopping. Go Instore is an example of a forward-thinking company that was able to intercept this trend, providing innovative solutions capable to respond to the new needs of the market: the company has in fact created live video-retail experiences for customers around the globe and empowered retail staff to work from anywhere.

Photo from goinstore.com

The Story Behind Go Instore

Go Instore was founded in 2014 by the two retail technology experts Aman Khurana and André Hordagoda, who had worked in the retail space for over 10 years.

Having worked in online retail for quite some years, they were well aware of the main weakness of this growing but yet 'impersonal' market, namely, its extremely low conversion rates compared to physical stores. In fact, physical stores typically experience a 20% conversion rate whilst their online counterparts only about 1-2%.

I thought to myself, you’ve got your highest converting assets, the staff, not doing anything, but the website traffic is abundant: what if we take the experiential element of a physical visit and put it onto the furthest reaching footfall capacity of a website? - André Hordagoda, CEO and Founder, as seen on techround.co.uk

Aman and Khurana started to think about ways to improve this rate, and suddenly the realisation came when André visited his sister's luxury bag store. During a quiet afternoon, he realised that no one had entered the store for about 45 minutes, whilst the staff, one of the 'highest converting assets' was not doing anything. A the same time though, the online traffic on the store website was quite high. That's when he realised that the potential of connecting these two different worlds: what if we could add the experiential value of an in-store visit to the higher reach capacity of an online store?

Together, Andre and Khurana started to prototype a video retail technology platform that would allow in-store staff to directly engage with online visitors. A few years later, the platform would rapidly reach success, being adopted by global brands such as Samsung, HP and Pandora.

Photo from goinstore.com

Bringing the In-Store Experience Online

Essentially, Go Instore is a technology platform that allows online shoppers to enjoy an in-store experience from the comfort of their homes, connecting them with in-store experts using immersive HD live video. The platform provides online shoppers with that personalised, one-to-one human contact that is usually missed when shopping online: it's all about bringing the physical in-store experience, online.

The platform doesn't only respond to the need of customers to have a more personalised and immersive shopping experience, but it also helps retailers increase their online conversion rate. By combining the great traffic potential of online shops with the higher conversion rates of physical stores, the platform empowers retailers to better engage with their customers and ultimately increasing sales.

Photo from goinstore.com

How the Platform Works

The platform can be easily connected with any online store. On the user end, the result will be a widget on the website with which users can interact. Retailers can integrate the widget directly on their website through a specific tag management system. The integration is directly managed by Go Instore using JavaScript and can be set up in just a few days.

Online shoppers don't need to download any app or plugins, as the experience sits entirely on the website. While on the website, visitors need simply to click on the widget (usually located at the bottom right of the screen) to start chatting with an expert, and all of it without leaving the page or opening new tabs. In this way, online shoppers can not only ask questions and get advice about a product but can also see it live in-store.

Photo from currys.co.uk

The solutions provided by Go Instore have been adopted by retailers of all kind, from independent shops to well-established global brands. Europe's leading specialist electrical and telecommunication retailer Currys PC World, for example, has adopted Go Instore to help customers find the right technology equipment that suits them and their business. By clicking on the "shop live" widget at the bottom right of the screen, customers can directly connect with an expert, assigned according to his/her expertise about the product.

The sofa retailer Sofology has a similar approach to do customer consultation directly online. Clicking on the widget, customers can directly speak to a "Sofologist" in-store, available to give advice and show products live.

Photo from sofology.co.uk

During the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the impossibility for many retailers to welcome visitors inside their stores, many retailers have adopted the solution given by Go Instore to offer customers the possibility to experience the closest possible experience to an in-person visit.

The bike brand Brompton for example has adopted Go Instore to offer an engaging way for customers to access the expertise of their retail staff from the comfort of their homes. The service allowed the company to adapt and further develop the business to meet the changing consumer needs during the pandemic.

Photo from goinstore.com

The Future of E-Commerce - Humanising the Customer Experience

Solutions like the one provided by Go Instore are tapping into a major consumer trend, which has been emerging particularly in the most recent years: the "humanisation" of the customer experience. This translates into the need of shoppers to interact with a "real human" as they look for products or services online. The e-commerce environment in fact has too often overlooked the human side of shopping, where customers seek personal advice, focusing instead purely on affordability and convenience.

We believe that online experiences should be as good as in-store, or better - goinstore.com

The future of e-commerce lies in narrowing the gap between the offline and the online world, integrating the great customer experience associated with physical stores with the comfort of online shopping. Retailers should leverage the potential of the consultative approach of their people in physical locations to enhance the customer experience, increasing customer satisfaction and sales. In the end, it's all about serving customers on their terms.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

This new trend also shows how physical stores will be still relevant in the future. Instead of abandoning physical stores to focus purely on e-commerce, retailers should work towards a seamless integration of both channels, while meeting the preferences of their customers.

Pivoting During the Pandemic

With a series of repeated lockdowns, 2020 has been particularly difficult for the retail sector: with their physical stores forced to close, suddenly, retailers became entirely reliant on their online channels to drive sales.

Over 2020, Go Instore has helped thousands of businesses to make up for their lack of physical footfall with "digital footfall". In fact, the live-video integration has helped retail brands not only to keep their stores open and their staff employed but has also helped them to provide better online shopping experiences to customers.

Numerous departments of international trade have recognized Go Instore as a solution for retail in the current crisis we find ourselves in, and we are working with retailers across the globe to evolve their stores and the roles of millions of retail employees.- André Hordagoda, CEO and Founder, as seen on businesswire.com

The live-video technology allowed retail staff to continue providing a high level of customer service and gave customers the opportunity to make more informed and personalised purchasing decisions, entirely remotely. At the same time, retailers saw their conversion rates growing from 1-2% to up to 30%.

Photo from goinstore.com

With the online shopping habits of consumers adopted during the pandemic expected to continue, humanising the online customer experience will become even more important in the near future. Retailers from all sectors should work towards making this transition happen if they want to ensure long term viability and resilience.

The Opportunities of Virtual Shopping

The case of Gi Instore shows us how shopping shouldn't be any longer split between retail and e-commerce: instead, it should be all about connecting these two worlds in order to offer a holistic customer experience. This is exactly when virtual shopping can play a key role.

Virtual shopping uses the latest media technologies to bridge physical and online experiences, adding value through human connections. With these technologies, retailers and sales assistants can connect in real-time via chat, call or video with online customers. At the same time, customers can not only ask questions but also view products and get personalised recommendations. The outcome is an omnichannel experience able to merge e-commerce and brick-and-mortar.

Photo from goinstore.com

It is clear how virtual shopping can really bring a wide range of benefits for both retailers and customers. Below is a list of the main benefits coming from the adoption of virtual shopping.

Increased Conversion Rate

A personalised virtual experience is proven to exponentially increase the conversion rate per online visitor. Virtual shopping can also have a positive impact on in-store foot traffic, as customers are more likely to visit a store after interacting with a shopping assistant online.

Improved Team Flexibility

Virtual shopping enables teams to engage with customers regardless of where they are located, as they can work from any store, office or even from the comfort of their homes. Especially in situations where physical stores are forced to close (such as during the COVID-19 pandemic), this flexibility can be pivotal for success.

A More Curated Customer Experience

Compared to standard e-commerce experiences, virtual shopping gives retailers the chance to deliver a more curated and personalised experience to customers, which leads to higher satisfaction, increased customer loyalty and higher conversion rates.

Turning Employees into Brand Ambassadors

With the use of video technologies, employees have the chance to interact with a wider audience, something previously unimaginable. In this way, they are not only able to better engage with customers but are also becoming ambassadors of your brand, giving a human face to products.

Key Takeaways

Published on:
May 2020
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