Life during Covid-19 was altered dramatically for many people around the globe, we were forced to form new shopping, exercising, and working habits. Today, over three years on from the first UK Lockdown, we are still seeing changes in consumer behaviours long after the hazy brain fog that was the Pandemic Era.
As a result of the new shopping habits we formed, return rates to high-street stores increased from 8% pre-pandemic to 25% for online purchases (Paazl). Interestingly, Barclaycard research discovered that 30% of shoppers deliberately over-purchased online and returned unwanted items. 19% admitted to ordering multiple versions of an item so they could make their mind up once delivered. If consumers had the option to somehow model the clothing prior to purchasing, the rate of returns to online businesses could be reduced, alongside the environmental impact, too.
Google has taken steps to make that a reality with an article outlining a new AI feature that will “…accurately reflect how an item of clothing would drape, fold, cling, stretch and form wrinkles and shadows on a diverse set of real models in various poses.” Already launched in the US, Customers can use this feature with top brands such as H&M, Anthropolgie, Everlane and LOFT. A virtual fitting room is the next innovative step in the transitional journey from traditional high-street shopping to online retail. Another barrier to the consumer experience has seemingly started to crumble. But how will this tool impact the PPC endeavours of online clothing retailers? Will the addition of this tool drive up conversions through PPC material, or will brands be put off by a further reduction in control over how their products are presented to consumers?
As the consumer landscape continues to adapt and evolve, innovating is essential for businesses dealing with the effects of longer term crises. Tools such as Googles’ generative AI can help businesses curb the cost of processing returns, or reducing the wastage of stock that can’t be resold. In addition, external market factors such as the cost of living crisis will impact the aforementioned 30% of shoppers who were deliberately over-purchasing and the 19% ordering multiple versions of clothing products.
Is there a reason for brands to be hesitant over the introduction of AI tools into the marketing mix? Well, perhaps. From the introduction of Performance Max campaigns, the phasing out of Smart Shopping and the recent Sunsetting of Universal Analytics, it feels to some that over the past year Google has slowly removed the level of control that marketers have over the way that products are presented to people. It’s hard to optimise your marketing campaigns when you have fewer levels to pull and buttons to press. Instead, you may be left hoping that Google is actually optimising your campaigns as best as they say that they are. From an advertising perspective, we are interested in the introduction of the 3 Cs presented at the recent Google Marketing Live event scaling Customer Connection, Creative and Confidence, look out for our thoughts on the 3Cs coming soon.
Remember, a strong marketing campaign is one that both generates value and captures value in return. This generative AI tool enables clothing retailers to not only enhance the user experience and provide consumers value, but also remove the existing barriers to consumer’s online retail experience, providing scope to increase the conversion value for retailers. Marketers should embrace these tools and adapt ahead of the curve to get the most out of it. And finally, in a world of increasing climate responsibility, why wouldn’t anyone want to adopt tools that could reduce carbon impact too?
Get in touch with our Paid Media team to further discuss this story.
Varn is an expert & specialist SEO search marketing agency. Consultancy * Search * Analytics * Audits