The Evolution of the Virtual Shopping Experience and Its Impacts on Retail Spaces

Virtual Shopping

Ecommerce has been on the rise for at least a decade now, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for its growth. In addition to consumers having no other choice than to shop from home for certain items, it also means that they have begun to seek out more eco-friendly and consumer minded products that meet their needs at a reasonable price. Customers want products that deliver what they say they’re going to, without worrying about being lied to or consuming something that was made with toxic and synthetic materials. The convenience and overall improvement of the consumer experience has put weight on retail stores, and while some have thrived others have struggled to transition into a hybrid space. These business leaders have some insight on virtual shopping and how it has affected retail stores over the last several years.

Consumers have shifted their spending to online, and modern retailers are adapting to the evolution of the virtual shopping experience by bringing DTC brands into their fold to keep up with growing trends and stay relevant. We’ve found that omnichannel distribution is key due to the substantial shifts taking place in retail, and the continued rise of e-commerce over the last few years, especially amidst the Covid-19 landscape. By being a digitally native brand and adopting a hybrid approach with retail options also available to our customers, we’ve completely changed the way we do business, staying ahead of the curve. There is a segment of consumers who still gravitate towards more traditional retailers, and physical stores will remain a valuable asset to digital brands. Rather than seeing it as one or the other, we follow the consumer’s needs and meet them in the medium that resonates most for them as a shopper.

Dr. Kathrin Hamm, Founder and CEO Bearaby

Online shopping gained prevalence in the early 2000’s with the rise of Amazon. Now, it has evolved into a sprawling industry with thousands of corporate and independent online stores. It has become the primary way that consumers buy and discover new brands and companies and it has taken a toll on physical store fronts.

Katie Lyon, Co-founder Allegiance Flag Supply

In many ways, virtual shopping has improved the consumer experience. Customers can be more intentional about where they shop, what brands to support and why. The pandemic has been integral to this shift as more people are thinking critically about how they are spending their money and what value that has in the marketplace. Consumers want their dollar to go a long way, and virtual shopping has allowed them to be more conscious and shop with more DTC brands that offer more value with their products.

Dylan Trussell, Co-founder Culprit Underwear

ECommerce and virtual shopping have made engaging with consumers challenging in some ways and easier in others. On one hand, you can communicate more directly with customers without having to worry about other customers in the same physical space. But on the other, you can’t make the same human connections as easily from a virtual distance.

David Lortscher, CEO Curology

Retail spaces still serve an important purpose for business as a hub for business activities. While it’s still a good idea to have a storefront of some kind, it’s more practical for companies to start online first. That way you can know if what you’re selling warrants renting or owning a retail store.

Derin Oyekan, Co-founder Reel Paper

Virtual shopping has only become more engaging and integrated into our online experience. Virtual shops can be linked directly to your social media accounts, making it extremely easy for customers to buy your products and increasing your traffic.

Lauren Kleinman, Co-founder The Quality Edit

Safety and security online are big issues for any company starting an online store and the evolution of this technology has made this a widely accessible option for businesses. Take extra precautions to make sure your customers’ transactions are safe and secure. Retail businesses could benefit from merging your transaction systems so that all your sales are hosted in one place.

Ajay Mehta, Co-founder and CEO Birthdate

Subscription models have popped up more and more over the years of virtual shopping, making for a more loyal customer base. Providing a subscription to your product or service will make customers more likely to shop online than go to a retail store. These options have become increasingly preferred over the last several years due to worldwide lockdowns.

Craig Carter, President & CEO Jack Mason

Without the need to worry about upkeep at a retail location, it leaves a lot more room to refine products, services and stay sustainable. The less overhead you have, the less you need to worry about waste and unnecessary expenses.

Joey Zwillinger, CEO Allbirds

With so much demand for online shopping availability, we’ve seen a lot of material shortages and products selling out extremely quickly. This is in part due to a larger amount of consumers shopping online after the pandemic, creating resource shortages. Additionally, travel restrictions have made shipping materials more difficult.

Daniel Patrick, Founder Daniel Patrick

The virtual shopping experience is likely to only become a more integral part of the way consumers buy products. Especially for businesses, it’s extremely convenient to be able to quickly order supplies for your business rather than making a trip to a department store.

Chris Caouette, Co-founder Gorilla Bow

Virtual shopping means that more consumers are shopping from home! This has enhanced brands abilities to cater more closely to customer needs and wants. The option to do this privately has been huge for consumer confidence in the last few years.

Yuvi Alpert, Founder and CEO Noémie

Retail spaces can benefit from the rise in virtual shopping easily by integrating in store services with online ones. Staying in business in the virtual world means integrating the old with the new and finding ways that each avenue can support the other.

Jordan Nathan, Founder and CEO Caraway

Virtual shopping means that consumers can customize their products and shop for essential items from wherever they are. This can cut down time visiting retail stores and gives consumers the opportunity to be more specific with their necessities.

Lindsay McCormick, Founder and CEO Bite