“New year, new you,” is a slightly hackneyed marketing trope, but it is still true that consumers are, in fact, looking to improve their lives at the beginning of the year. Whether it’s eating better, working out more, cleaning out their makeup bags or refreshing their home décor, consumers are motivated to reset. January is a unique moment for ecommerce retailers and brands to use inspiration to bring shoppers back for more than just returns and clearance items post-holiday.
However, simply tagging an email for a pair of leggings at 40% off with a “new year, new you,” message is not going to satisfy shoppers. Retailers can reclaim their own style authority with resonant content that goes above and beyond a promotional message or tag line. Seizing this moment to re-establish a dialogue with the shopper will fuel a relationship that transcends the simply transactional.
Inspirational commerce is a counterpart to transactional commerce, which has primarily been the investment focus for brands. Transactional commerce includes infrastructural elements like product listings, checkout, shipping and returns. On the other hand, inspirational commerce uses visual, guided discovery, and personalized style or product advice — and utilizes AI to do it at scale — all to re-engage the customer and bring them back to a brand’s site.
The online experience today is no different than it was 20 years ago. For instance, other than the merchandise, Home Depot’s website looks no different structurally than Prada’s after you leave the home page. The concept of “brand” used to be what got shoppers in the door, but many ecommerce stores have become virtual warehouses as opposed to exciting destinations that inspire and educate the shopper.
Ultimately, shoppers are looking for validation with the purchases they make. They need to know whether the style suits them and what they can wear it with that is already in their closet. Retailers that support shoppers beyond just a marketing campaign give those shoppers confidence and convey that they are experts that know how to help consumers find the exact right items that will make them look and feel great. Through shoppable and personalized inspiration, retailers have an opportunity to build a relationship with their shoppers in the same way a sales associate would in-store.
The customer has evolved in these two decades and expects a unified shopping experience in which their favorite brands behave the same way online as they do in-store. AI tools can transform the typically ho-hum digital experience into something much more engaging and dynamic, with personalized, expert styling and outfitting suggestions.
Engaging on a much more personal level with consumers should be a core value proposition for all brands. Being known for “finding the things I really love” is a much bigger point of differentiation in a crowded market than “they have really good prices.”
Rohan Deuskar is the Founder and CEO of Stylitics, a leading inspirational commerce platform that powers thousands of visual outfitting, styling and bundling programs for a sizable proportion of the world’s major fashion and home retailers, working with more than 3,350 brands and providing outfitting for over 200 million shoppers a year. He is one of the most prolific inventors in retail technology, with a number of patents for technology now used by over 150 retailers across site, app, email, social and stores including Nike, Kohl’s, Puma, Express, Revolve, JCPenney, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel and more. Deuskar was selected as a NYC Fashion Fellow by NYC’s Economic Development Corporation and has been a keynote speaker or guest lecturer at CommerceNext, NY Fashion Week, WWD at SXSW, FIT, LIM, Parson’s, and the Wharton School.