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Technology Retailers- Unless you’re selling sweatpants, which sold out 80 percent faster in April versus February this year, most fashion retailers face a dire spring and summer. J.C. Penney is the most recent casualty amongst retail giants, joining Nieman Marcus, Macy’s M and others in filing for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, April retail sales in the United States plunged 17.8 percent compared with 2019.
Stores in some parts of the United States are reopening, but not fully. The number of customers allowed inside stores may be limited — and many people will continue to stay away from non-essential businesses. To survive the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, retailers need new ways to stay close to customers virtually.
Here, two startup founders and an SAP expert describe how technology can help retailers survive and recover – while keeping their brands and customer followings intact.
Augmented Reality Brings The Store To Your Home
Vntana co-founder and CEO Ashley Crowder, thinks that 3D and augmented reality solutions — like the ones developed by her company — can increase conversion rates for online shopping. “Vntana makes it easy to take existing manufacturing design files and immediately create 3D and AR experiences proven to more than double conversion rates and reduce returns by 40 percent,” she said.
Vntana works with customers like Shah Jewelry to create virtual versions of products that let customers ‘try on’ items at home. Even before the pandemic, the Vntana saw increased conversion from browsers to buyers among companies that provide 3D experiences for customers. For example, Crowder says Ikea experienced a 30 percent increase in revenue when consumers could virtually place products within their home.
Crowder believes AR and VR technology is here to stay. “Artillery Intelligence (an AR and VR research publication) did a consumer study that said 45 percent of consumers want to try AR VR shopping,” said Crowder. “Thirty percent said if that can provide good enough information to make a decision to buy, they would never want to go into a retail store again. So people want this content and they want this option.”
She expects adoption to accelerate because of the coronavirus crisis and points out that the companies who move quickly now will be better positioned for survival and future growth.
Hyperlocal Ecommerce Boosts Bricks and Mortar Retail
Sandeep Bhanote co-founded Radius8, a startup that improves shoppers’ ecommerce interactions by providing hyperlocal, personalized experiences. Like Crowder, Bhanote is a participant in the SAP.iO Foundry accelerator program in New York, which currently supports a cohort of customer-experience focused companies.