By Svetlana Stotskaya
2020 has been a mixed year for business in general and for marketing professionals in particular. Some industries experienced accelerated growth, while others slid downward. Marketing followed this trend when digital promotional channels overtook some traditional advertising activities. As 2021 begins, we expect to see technological trends that may alter marketing plans even more.
1. Continuing proliferation of wireless technologies in touchpoints with customers
Social distancing measures have guided us to implement various technology solutions to ensure safety. A few of them have been around for some time, such as contactless payment cards, digital wallets and apps, and “leave near the door” delivery options. Yet, these solutions surged in 2020.
Mobile payments illustrate a catapulted adoption of contactless technologies. According to The State of Retail Payments survey by the National Retail Federation and Forrester, “67% of retailers surveyed accept some form of no-touch payment, and that includes 58% that accept contactless cards that can be waved past a card reader or tapped on the reader. That figure is up from 40% last year. ” The report also says that “19% of consumers have made a digital payment for the first time since May, and of those, 62% used their phone and 56% used a contactless card.”
Reacting to the pandemic restrictions, Walmart introduced contactless payment, pickup and delivery options in March 2020. People started paying with QR codes and digital wallets more frequently. Companies from diverse industries have partnered with contactless payment providers. Paypal and Venmo integrated QR codes in checkouts in CVS Pharmacy standalone stores. In Japan, Line Pay teamed up with Tokyo Gas, and Rakuten Pay collaborated with food businesses.
In retail marketing, wireless technology may act as a distribution and engagement channel. The range of possible applications is diverse: from discount QR codes at a local gas station to e-invitations to get a cup of cappuccino when a favorite coffee shop comes out of a lockdown.
Wireless technology widespread, its advancement and accessibility may encourage a lot of businesses to use it. This gives a number of startups with wireless technology products to have a real shot at scaling their business and cement their presence among the available technology solutions on the market.
2. Integration of augmented reality and virtual reality into a customer journey
There has been an explosion of talks about implementation of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in marketing in the past few years. 2020 demonstrated an increasing market penetration of immersive experiences that have been reaching a wider audience since then. Additionally, a greater number of both small tech startups and large companies transitioned from a prototype demonstration to commercial implementation of AR/VR.
Ecommerce was one of the first industries to start scaling these technologies. One of the examples is a virtual fitting room to demonstrate and select clothes during online shopping. Shopify has recognised this trend and added AR features to its platform. Another case is a virtual pop-up shop by fashion brand Coach. In this shop, visitors could explore a collection of clothes from the Mickey Mouse thematic collaboration.
However, mass adoption of AR/VR can be hindered by a number of factors. An unsatisfactory user experience, deficient quality and variety of content offerings, and overall consumer and business hesitation to try AR/VR are just a few of them. As a result, marketers are cautious about experimenting with these innovative solutions on a large scale. Nevertheless, with accelerated competition and skyrocketed digitalisation, companies need to rethink their marketing activities and reimagine a customer journey. AR/VR startups can embrace the trend and jump on a real opportunity to make the move in this game.
3. Livestream shopping as an entertaining customer experience
Livestream shopping has become a hot topic recently, and it has already been booming in Asia. In China along, it accounted for more that $61 billion in sales in 2019 and was predicted to reach $129 billion in 2020. Western brands have also started to include it in their marketing mix as more mobile apps and platforms introduced features which allow livestream shopping.
With Instagram launching Reels, Google announcing Shoploop, and Shopify partnering with TikTok, livestream shopping becomes more affordable and easier to implement. Recent examples include the participation of women’s fashion brand ANNE KLEIN in the official launch of Facebook live in-app shopping in November in 2020 and a joint livestream event by Walmart and TikTok in December, 2020. According to the letter by Susan Wojcicki, Youtube is currently “testing a new beta program with a group of beauty and electronics creators to help people discover and buy the products they see in videos. ”
Livestream shopping opens up new opportunities by captivating customers and turning the buying process into the entertaining experience. It has a huge potential to shift from a fancy special event to a must-have component of a marketing and sales strategy for many companies. Leveraging this trend, startups with product offers for livestream shopping can get the license to a plethora of growth opportunities.
Technology innovations and tools offer multiple ways to capture and deliver value for customers. They transform a customer experience, helping a brand stand out among competing products, and introducing another touchpoint in a customer journey. Understanding which technologies to adopt and how to responsibly embed them into a marketing mix will create a competitive advantage for companies in 2021.
About the Author
Svetlana Stotskaya is a marketing professional with extensive expertise in brand management, marketing strategy, and neuromarketing. She has helped to launch and scale brands while building and inspiring cross-functional teams and driving results in challenging business environments.