Zoom videos helped Australians cut down on business travel and stay connected with work, friends and family during the pandemic. Now they are helping consumers shop without going into stores and boosting online sales for retailers.
A Melbourne e-commerce start-up, Brauz, has achieved a major coup by linking up with Zoom Video Communications to launch a turn-key video-enabled shopping platform for bricks and mortar retailers.
The technology enables shoppers to connect via Zoom with retailers anywhere in the world and have a personalised shopping experience, where they can view merchandise in showrooms, chat to staff and add items to their virtual shopping cart in real time.
Participating retailers add a “virtual appointment” button on their sites as an option alongside “add to cart” or “click & collect”. This triggers an email and text with a Zoom link for their virtual appointment with a sales person or stylist.
Retailers and shoppers can further personalise the experience by integrating data such as past purchases.
Shane Lenton, chief information officer at Cue Clothing, one of Brauz’s first customers, said the technology had enabled the women’s-wear retailer to improve conversion rates by 60 per cent and achieve a five-fold increase in average order value.
“Staff initially didn’t see how this would work but once they saw some of the stats they all wanted to be part of it,” said Mr Lenton. “Sales have exceeded $5000 on some of these calls.”
“Customers often grab pieces they love from their own wardrobe [to show the stylist or sales assistant],” Mr Lenton said.
Virtual appointments enable customers to connect to stores for a personal shopping experience.
Brauz founder and chief executive Lee Hardham said the collaboration with Zoom was a natural progression for the company, which launched in 2013 to bridge the gap between digital and physical shopping and help retailers convert more online browsers into customers. Online conversion remains low, averaging 2 per cent globally, despite the boom in online shopping.
“[Zoom] saw what we had in-market and it was a natural fit and flew from there,” said Mr Hardham.
Brauz has signed up retailers including Cue and sister brand Veronika Maine, Forever New, Jo Mercer, Dion Lee and Nike, and is in talks with retailers ranging from single-store operators to department stores.
Mr Hardham sees scope for video-enabled commerce in sectors such as car showrooms, resorts and hotels, building, real estate and banking – “anywhere people want to connect seamlessly by video”.
After raising $2 million in seed funding, Brauz is planning to raise between $5 million and $10 million in a Series A round to fund expansion in Australia and overseas.
Mr Lenton said video enabled commerce was likely to grow even after the COVID-19 threat had eased and borders reopened.
“This is something we at Cue were looking at pre-COVID-19,” he said. “Consumer behaviour has changed … people want to have the ability to browse something wherever they are and have a richer experience than a pure online experience.
“This is really important to bring the physical and digital world together and drive more convenience for the customers … what Brauz and Zoom have brought to market is a new way of shopping that is here to stay.”
Original Article from https://www.afr.com/companies/retail/now-zoom-is-helping-us-to-shop-20210705-p5870l