From homegrown marketing to voice commerce & queries, these are the strategies innovative brands are leveraging to create immersive and entertaining virtual retail experiences at home (& beyond!)

These days, life happens largely at home, and this goes for retail, too—a shift that has seen over 40% of consumers switching to digital methods for their shopping needs since the pandemic started. While many of these behaviors are driven by safety and convenience, people are still on the lookout for digital shopping experiences that go a step beyond—building excitement, confidence and trust.

PSFK researchers have identified in-home showrooming as a prime strategy for retailers & brands to leverage, and have produced a new white paper brimming with top tactics for delivering immersive, personalized, human-first experiences ushering in a new set of ecommerce standards. Here, we share a selection of these strategies for businesses to create their next-gen in-home retail now and moving forward.

Homegrown Marketing — It can be difficult for consumers to imagine a brand’s products in their own homes, or to be sure of how they might easily fit into their daily routines. To overcome this challenge, brands are inviting influencers and the fan community to showcase products within their own home environment, and supporting creators in the generation of content relevant to their followers’ new normal. Inclusive lingerie startup Adore Me has done so with its Creators platform, where anyone can become an influencer in their own right by submitting contact info and social media profile links. Once selected to participate, they can choose campaigns to join, receiving products from Adore Me as well as themes to guide their own posts and captions that they style at home.

Virtual Browsing With large swathes of physical stores still closed, the act of casually browsing through aisles and racks remains limited. While shoppers can still scroll through images online, some of that serendipity and surprise is lost. In an effort to recreate the IRL experience, retailers and brands are experimenting with immersive platforms that allow remote shoppers to discover and learn about products in new ways. Dior has adopted this strategy with its VR store experience, providing online shoppers with a Google Street View-esque version of its Parisian flagship where they can peruse categories like home, fragrance and more, then focus in on items and click through to purchase online.

Voice-Led Experiences The more time consumers are spending at home, the easier and more streamlined they’ve found voice purchasing to be, creating ample opportunities for businesses to solve consumers’ problems, provide information, and enable quick purchasing seamlessly through their in-home devices. Merrell is an outdoor gear brand taking the audio route, going beyond mere v-commerce. Their voice-powered experience supports the broader mission of the company and its products, encouraging would-be adventurers to locate and learn details about nearby trails and other activities. Using their phone's speaker, consumers can ask Merrell outdoors-related questions—a way for the brand to position itself as an expert in its category and activate beyond its product. 

Immersive Visualization As access to in-person trial and try-on opportunities remains hard to come by, customers are hesitant to shop online for pricey or personal purchases if they cannot visualize the product in the context of their space or on themselves. Brands are leveraging technologies such as VR and AR to help customers visualize products in life-like digital simulations, allowing them to find the best option to fit their needs. Vertebrae is an augmented reality tech company helping enable these kinds of 3D and mixed-reality commerce experiences. The web-based app develops virtual tools intended for mobile-first audiences that leverage users’ device cameras to enable try-ons of accessories like sunglasses, hats and jewelry as well as home goods. 

And this was just a selection of the ways that creative brands and retailers are bringing at-home retail to life in new and exciting ways—find out about accessing the full research paper here. (And, for a short film inspired by a post-war strategy for reaching consumers where they are, check out this video clip!)