What to invest in if you are falling behind your competitors in eCommerce sales

With the digital space getting increasingly crowded due to the acceleration of digitalisation this year, there could be a solution for commerce brands to cut through the clutter. And that is, immersive experiences. 

According to a recent Accenture report titled "Try It. Trust It. Buy It.", it was found that shoppers now are embracing new immersive technologies related to online shopping. In fact, 54% of consumers in the Asia Pacific said these technologies make them feel connected with products, the percentage being higher than consumers in Europe and North America. 

The report showed that immersive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality and 3D content can enhance consumer purchasing confidence and increase online sales.

While immersive experiences can boost consumer confidence in online purchases by 4% globally, more than half (56%) of the Singaporean respondents said they are more confident with their online purchase if the product uses immersive technologies as compared to products that do not. It is also found that 71% of Singapore consumers said they would be more likely to buy from a brand that focus on better experience using immersive technologies. Should these experiences not convert views into sales, they would still help brands be at the top of consumers' recall.

The report revealed that 59% of Singapore consumers would better remember brands that regularly engage them with immersive technologies. 

Additionally, Accenture's report found that nearly half (47%) of consumers are willing to pay extra for a product if they could customise or personalise it using immersive technologies. In addition, three in five consumers expect to buy more from brands that enable them to use these technologies to interact with and evaluate products.

Consumers are found to trust immersive experiences to close the sensory gap for them, thereby providing the purchasing “proof points” they need to evaluate a product digitally. Unlike anything else in digital commerce, immersive experiences provide accessibility and tangibility. This translates into confidence that a product will meet expectations. Furthermore, when consumers can try, touch and buy products online with confidence, they are more satisfied. This increases the likelihood of them becoming repeat customers and brand promoters. Hence, these experiences are meaningful to consumers that they associate it with premium brand value. 

Thomas Mouritzen, managing director, Southeast Asia at Accenture Interactive, said the findings of the report is a call-to-action for brands to reimagine digital commerce as consumers are ready for an evolution of the online shopping experience, adding that consumers in Singapore and APAC stood out as strong advocates for immersive technologies. 

“Consumers want to shop online without sacrificing purchasing confidence. With immersive experiences, they don’t have to. Brands that invest now can enhance consumer relationships, increase online sales and open the door to the next wave of digital commerce," Mouritzen said.

Accenture's report also showed that companies are increasing their focus on these immersive technologies, with 64% of leading consumer brands globally starting to invest in augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D content and 360-degree video. 

However, many are not investing in ways that are scalable or connected across the business.

They are investing in pockets, with initiatives such as uploading 3D models on product pages, curating personalised make-up palettes and hosting virtual fashion shows to bring people closer to products in the digital world. To achieve better results from their immersive experience efforts, brands should shift their thinking from investing in one-off experiences to driving scale and efficiency to these experiences, the report added. 

While the report findings showed promising returns for immersive technologies investment, Accenture pointed out some fundamentals that brands should establish well before making that dive. 

Brands should secure executive buy-in and alignment with business, marketing and sales strategies, before making any investment. They should also establish a process for 3D asset design, development and optimisation. On the design aspect, brands should be authentic with experience-led solutions that align with the brand purpose and needs of target buyers. While exploring new innovations and approaches, brands should also develop a practical plan for shedding the weight of legacy technology investments. Last but definitely not least, it is imperative for brands to protect customers’ trust by respecting and protecting their personal data.

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