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Today in Retail: What Retail Leaders Are Thinking About in Early 2024

On the 2024 stages of NRF, eTail, Shoptalk and beyond, retail experts discussed the disruptive trends and challenges retail leaders should be addressing—in particular, how the former-buzzword “AI” has now become an integral part of the retail landscape. Obsess was on the ground at all of these events, and we’ve pulled the top three recurring themes on the minds of retailers today:

1. Retail is Embracing the AI Advantage

In the fast-paced world of retail, staying ahead of the curve is non-negotiable. Forward-thinking companies are investing in AI to streamline operational processes, advance personalization strategies, build predictive analytics and more—revolutionizing retail and driving cross-functional efficiency through a variety of use cases. Retailers are particularly fond of leveraging artificial intelligence as a means of enhancing the customer experience and increasing internal efficiencies. Whether it’s with the introduction of AI virtual assistants or the creation of AI-enabled content, there are several ways brands can adopt artificial intelligence that enhances shopper engagement. 

2. Elevating Experiences with Personalization 

Brands are increasingly discovering the importance of treating consumers as individuals rather than datasets. Retailers are now shifting away from a linear customer funnel to a dynamic one distinctly impacted by the various touchpoints and interactions shoppers have with brands. 

Everyone’s shopping journey is different. A major focus for brands and retailers is to develop a consumer-centric approach to online shopping, emphasizing genuine dialogue and empathetic personalization. The key to empathetic personalization is to deeply understand and connect with consumers, and cater to their individual needs and preferences to enhance their experience. Brands are leveraging technologies like AI and 3D visualization such as product customization features to offer these tailored experiences, and gain insight into consumer demand. Brands can utilize AI to empower consumers by integrating AI-powered recommendation engines to curate product recommendations, forging hyper-personalized shopper journeys online.

Another way to elevate a shopper’s experience with a brand is to deliver a unified and seamless experience across all channels, online and offline. The modern consumer knows what they want, and it’s up to the brand to meet them where they are with a consistent presence. 

3. Social Commerce and the Power of Play

The rise of social commerce and gamification in retail is rooted in Gen Z’s online behaviors, leaning toward concise content, peer reviews and cultural cues. Consumer behaviors are shifting toward small-screen entertainment, with social media platforms becoming key channels for discovery and shopping. Social media is inherently community-focused and hyper-engaging, providing brands with an opportune platform to reach fans and new shoppers. Shoppable video and social commerce’s rise to prominence offers brands new opportunities to engage with consumers and build community. 

Incorporating gamification into retail experiences is also essential. Gaming elements are hyper-engaging and make shopping experiences more interactive, catering to the preferences of the gaming-native audience. More than 80% of today’s consumers classify themselves as gamers, and for Gen Z, it’s over 90%. Many brands have opted to leverage game play by creating brand experiences on gaming platforms like Roblox, which has a massive user base primarily of Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Hair care brand, amika, recently launched their Roblox experience, the amikaverse, with Obsess—a vibrant gamified environment where the brand can engage their young consumers.

The Age-Old Challenge in Retail: How to Keep Up With (Or, Really…Stay Ahead Of) the Consumer

The modern consumer’s rapidly rising expectations are outpacing many retailers’ and brands’ ability to adapt. With customer experiences and expectations top of mind for retail leaders, many are turning to innovative technologies to meet demands. From artificial intelligence to 3D visualization and gamified commerce, retail’s tech stack is ever evolving in order to give consumers what they want, where they want it. 

With patented 3D technology, Obsess is enabling brands and retailers to engage shoppers with bespoke AI-powered 3D virtual stores on their own websites as well as Roblox and Apple Vision Pro. Virtual stores are able to host a slew of interactive features, custom to the brand’s identity. From gamification and personalized quizzes to product customization and AI-powered virtual assistants, each feature aims to increase customer engagement, brand loyalty and conversion. Email us at contact@obsessvr.com or book a demo to learn more about how Obsess’ immersive shopping platform can help your brand stay ahead of the consumer. 

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Obsess is the leading experiential e-commerce platform enabling brands and retailers to serve immersive and highly interactive 3D virtual experiences that drive conversion, customer engagement, and brand loyalty amongst a new generation of gaming-fluent consumers. Obsess uses its proprietary virtual shopping platform and VR/AR technology to enable brands and retailers to set up 3D 360 digital storefronts on their websites.

© 2024 Obsess, Inc. all rights reserved.