The “New Normal” of Online Shopping

Verizon Media’s first-ever head of global commerce, Andrea Wasserman, offers insights on the state of online shopping, creating human connections digitally, and why storytelling matters more than ever. 
Covid has changed the rules of retail and accelerated online shopping. What should retailers and brands understand about the “new normal” if they want to grow their online presence?
The technologies supporting online commerce have now become an essential lifeline to the retail industry’s survival. In this “new normal” we’re currently navigating, consumers continue to expect the same seamless, elevated experiences online as they would in-person. Whether it’s introducing shoppable video, extended reality or AI-powered features, now is the time to enhance the customer journey across all touchpoints to meet new – and future – demands. As vaccines roll out and in-person shopping slowly returns, these advancements in e-commerce remain critical to online consumer retention. Remaining nimble, embracing new technologies, and putting consumer needs at the forefront of every online experience will be integral, as shoppers return to stores. 
How can technology compensate for the lack of shopping in a store, getting help from a sales associate, discovering new items you love? 
The value of human connection while shopping digitally has never been more important. Shopping behind a screen can leave much to be desired, with many consumers still yearning for the sense of discovery that comes with in-person shopping. To provide a more compelling online experience, brands must lean int o these emerging technologies to captivate and retain consumers. From extended reality and AI chatbots, to virtual consultants and seamless payments, these emerging retail formats via an omnichannel approach not only compensates for the loss of in-person experiences, but also drives sales.
How can today’s brands reach new audiences? Is TikTok a must? 
We’re seeing two big trends come to a head here; first the true connection between storytelling and commerce. Today’s modern consumer looks to authentic sources and product recommendations, whether it’s from a trusted editor or social media expert. The second trend being where entertainment and shopping intersect. Shoppable video experiences meet the viewers where they are and empower brands to connect with consumers through more meaningful interactions.
To reach and create brand affinity with new audiences – the focus must be on telling a genuine story and in an engaging, entertaining way. Take for example In The Know. It’s Verizon Media’s content and shopping network for Gen Z and Millennials, including the top product recommendations from beloved influencers like model, globetrotter and mom Rocky Barnes and sneaker savant Racks Hogan. In the past year In The Know has driven sales value for merchandise sold by 125% increase in GMV (Gross Merchandise Value). That number illustrates the power of combining storytelling, authenticity and entertainment in commerce, to meet new audiences. 

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