- Business leaders have big questions running through their mind as 2023 knocks on the door
- Why they should watch out for 3D and augmented reality (AR) - the mammoth trend that will transform commerce landscapes in 2023
- What are the other big trends that should be in the crosshairs of leaders next year
Commerce, strategy and brand leaders have their plates full as 2023 gets under way. From a possible recession to customer demand for clutter-breaking experiences to the inexorable rise of ‘social selling’ to a call for sustainable practices to the explosion of AI (artificial intelligence) powered tools. Not all, of course, may warrant immediate attention and some like AI will take time to mature. We take the opportunity to combine insight and foresight and shortlist standout trends that businesses must look out for, in order to maximize market opportunities going forward. Presenting the biggest forces that will shape commerce in 2023 – starting with the mammoth trend of augmented reality that connects and augments all the others.
1. 3D and augmented reality (AR): The mega trend of 2023
Technology trends will play a big role in commerce in 2023, and nothing captures that more spectacularly than the See-Commerce revolution of 3D and augmented reality (AR). Let’s take a quick glance at why 3D and AR will tick some of the biggest boxes for sales and revenue leaders in 2023;
- 3D and AR is unique in its ability to blend physical and digital realm. Buyers can literally place digital products from e-commerce pages or online catalogs into their own physical environments virtually – thereby judging fit and appropriateness accurately for better decision making.
- By making it possible to explore dimensions and specifications three hundred and sixty degrees, and alter color and appearance in a click, 3D-AR places the reins of discovery and control firmly in the hands of the viewer.
- By introducing a product or idea in an honest, what-you-see-is-what-you-get manner, 3D-AR combines the storytelling magic of advertising with the confidence building traits of relevant and helpful content.
- By letting viewers try before they buy virtually, 3D-AR can reduce the scourge of returns in e-commerce by up to five percent. This brings down environmental damage associated with logistics and transportation measurably, aligning the business with the growing public demand for sustainable commerce.
- Be it the convenience of gadget-less and app-free experiences (like the web version from Enhance 3D and AR Solutions), deeply personalized interactions (made possible with real-time behavioral data) or its ability to endear a new generation (a Snap study shows ninety three percent of Gen Z wants to use augmented reality for an immersive shopping experience), 3D-AR squarely embodies the next level of customer experience.
By introducing a product or idea in an honest, what-you-see-is-what-you-get manner, 3D-AR combines the storytelling magic of advertising with the confidence building traits of relevant and helpful content.
2. Engagement will go ‘phygital’
As the digital and physical worlds come closer, consumer experiences are becoming increasingly blended. Organizations are transforming digitally to keep pace with evolving trends in e-commerce. The traditional TOFU-MOFU-BOFU funnel will not become redundant just yet, but it will gradually serve the role of broad guardrails. Expect the new, empowered shopper to trapeze between brand touchpoints multiple times during their phase of discovery. Brands will be evaluated not just on their marketing messages, but their vision, culture and behavior too. This means every touchpoint will become equally potent in its ability to capture shopper attention and sway buyer decision, and therefore warrant the same degree of attention from strategy makers. Buyers will also cover a significant chunk of their product exploration journey (fifty seven percent according to recent studies) before they say hello to a sales rep – choosing to navigate discovery journeys on their own. Brands must therefore build hybrid, multichannel digital and physical paths that are seamlessly unified, demonstrate value with consistency and guide buyers forward with purpose, passion and patience.
3. Shoppers will demand (and get) greater control
Digitally native buyers with a world of information at their fingertips – from official brand channels, online reviews and private groups (dark social) - want to be in charge of the purchase process. In fact, according to a Gartner study, thirty three percent of buyers – and forty four percent of millennials - prefer a purchase experience that’s ‘sales free’. Greater control, however, does not mean sacrificing on performance, and fans are now demanding both from brands. Businesses must acknowledge the shift and engineer deep tech, data analytics powered experiences that are (A) intuitively tailored to buyer intent, (B) brutally honest and ethical to elicit trust and confidence, and (C) simple enough for shoppers to DIY key actions – such as feature familiarization, model comparison and purchase check out - easily.
4. Lines between ‘advertisement’ and ‘content’ will blur
We are entering a time of contentification of ads (and vice versa). The days of one directional messaging – with brands throwing them and customers receiving them – are history. Traditional advertisements that are overbearing, random and obtrusive have long given way to permission based inbound marketing frameworks that are friendly, helpful and personalized. A tech savvy Gen Z knows when they are ‘being sold to’, and will give a brand no more than eight seconds to present its case. Consumers are getting used to being served according to their need, time and taste, and both ads and content will eventually become an avatar of information – one that leverages user behavioral insights to bring the right value to the right audience at the right moment.
A tech savvy Gen Z knows when they are ‘being sold to’, and will give a brand no more than eight seconds to present its case.
5. Purpose will be paramount
A sense of altruistic purpose is now in the top 2 to 5 reasons consumers buy one brand over another. With role models like Greta Thunberg and Emma González, it’s no surprise that the new generation expects its brands to stand for something. An Accenture study found that sixty two percent of customers support businesses that are driven by a purpose that transcends their own existential priorities, and those who take a positive stance on values like equality, transparency and sustainability. According to an IBM report, nearly sixty percent of consumers are ready to alter their shopping habits if that can help protect the environment in some way. And per a Porter Novelli/Cane report, no less than ninety percent of Gen-Z expect companies to play a proactive role in solving social and environmental challenges.
Sixty two percent of customers support businesses that are driven by a purpose that transcends their own existential priorities.
6. Customer experience will rule
The importance of customer experience (CX) in business is growing by leaps and bounds. Seventy three percent of people surveyed in a study confided that customer experience is a key influencer in their buying process. According to recent Gartner research, eighty nine percent of companies pointed to CX as the new arena of competition. CX goes a long way in building loyalty and retention, which is significant from a revenue standpoint: A Bain and Company report establishes than even a five percent increase in customer retention can lift profits by as much as twenty five percent. The trend of building next level customer experiences has become so overpowering that the largest organizations are sitting up and taking notice. With Adweek and Adobe appointing Chief Experience Officers (CXOs), CX is clearly a leadership and strategy pillar for businesses today. How does one sharpen CX? Some proven ways are decoding patron wish lists by listening intently, taking action on feedback quickly, and building omnichannel interactions that are frictionless and engaging.
With Adweek and Adobe appointing Chief Experience Officers (CXOs), CX is clearly a leadership and strategy pillar for businesses today.