There was a time when the foundation of retail was the brick-and-mortar store. Customers would have to physically visit store locations to see the items they wanted and purchase them in person, often leaving consumers at the mercy of stock levels, supply chains, and store operating hours. When people saw something on a television commercial or in a magazine that they were interested in buying, there was no guarantee that the item would be available at a store near them. 

The retail experience has shifted in the past few decades. Since online shopping made its debut in 1994, retailers have taken to e-commerce like ducks to water, serving up innovative shopping experiences and contributing to the staggering statistic of 76% of people who now do most of their shopping online. 

Even given the overwhelming popularity of online shopping, the retail customer experience could still stand to be improved. It’s possible that many shoppers may enjoy the convenience of online shopping, but miss the personal attention and tactile nature of shopping in person. 

A Future of Innovative Visual Commerce 

Angelo Coletta, CEO of the Visual Commerce platform  Zakeke, sees a future where augmented shopping will begin to meet the needs of savvy customers better. “My goal has always been to lead a company focused on innovation, one that strives to change the way consumers think,” Coletta told Authority Magazine

Zakeke provides online and in-store solutions for web-to-print customization, 3D and AR configuration with an integrated viewer, and virtual try-ons. With over half of shoppers still preferring a physical store, Zakeke has sought to make the e-commerce experience more like a physical experience, melding the two into a customer-centric shopping encounter. The technologically advanced solutions that Zakeke has brought to the market allow retailers to better engage customers and give them the customization options they crave, from text and images customization to recreating printing effects like engraving to compose products in 3D. 

“In this era, people identify themselves with brands, not so much with ideas or movements, so I thought, how can people feel different, unique?” said Coletta. “Customers increasingly want to be able to play a primary role in the design of the products they buy. Although brands and logos still have a strong appeal, customers want the products purchased to represent them, giving a unique image of themselves.”

This desire to purchase unique, customized products online is made easier for the consumer through Zakeke’s web-to-print customization options, 3D views of products, and virtual try-on capabilities. 

Solving Retail Problems 

Companies like Coletta’s solve different issues for different retailers, making them a proverbial “Swiss Army Knife” for e-commerce sites. From digitizing processes for the printing industry to helping luxury brands give their customers a high-end experience, even online, Zakeke addresses many growing pains retailers face when taking on eCommerce. 

According to a recent survey, a whopping 93% of shoppers expect their online shopping experience to be equal to — if not better than — an in-store experience. This expectation has left retailers scrambling to bring the best and shiniest new technologies to their sites. Outdated sites that make the buying process too cumbersome, lengthy, or have a low-end feel run the risk of being beaten out by competitors willing to step up their game. The time a retailer has with a consumer on their site is precious. Retailers need to keep the consumer’s interest, make the buying process customized and easy, and entice the consumer to return. The same extensive report stated that 52% of shoppers would be willing to pay more for an item if they can find what they are looking for in just a few clicks. Additionally, 69% said they would be willing to pay more for a product if the site had value-added features that made the shopping experience more pleasurable, quicker, or more personalized. 

With so much competition on the internet for consumer attention, retailers need to integrate new ways to hook customers, giving them the customized and easy shopping experience they are asking for. 

Coletta knows that some retailers are hesitant to change. They may fear automation, technology that they may not fully understand, or breaking with the “Mom-and-Pop” feel of their brick-and-mortar store. However, he stresses the ease of integration that platforms like his offers, as he has seen firsthand the difference an upgrade in online customer experience can do for a retailer. 

“One of our retail customers saw their sales double in six months after implementing Zakeke’s product customizer feature,” says Coletta. “After trying other solutions that proved difficult to use and not intuitive, they adopted Zakeke. Through our automation processes, this customer was able to keep up with demand and double sales.”

It is evident that e-commerce is here to stay and is constantly evolving to meet customers’ needs and desires. Retailers who want to stay ahead of their competitors and ride the wave of innovation will need to offer customized solutions and better virtual options for shopping. 

The next generation of shoppers are tech savvy and demand personalized service and product options. They know the power of algorithms, expect tailored product recommendations, and are willing to pay more for shopping ease and custom items. Retailers need to rise and meet this moment to stay in the game and keep their customers happy. 


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