Improving Virtual Events with a Focus on the Customer

For our first virtual event with Imperial, we were focused on many different aspects of the show. The shopping experience, engagement through chat functionality and video presentations were all given consideration and attention prior to launch.

When the time came for our second event, we had a strong experience that we could build on and refine rather than re-invent. While there were many other adjustments and tweaks throughout version two of our custom virtual event, the major user experience improvements came down to two main areas of focus aimed squarely at the customer.

Goodbye Sessions, Hello Live Show

During the first Imperial event, we divided the show by the three main actions a user could take: Shop (merchandise), Watch (presentations) and Meet (in live sessions). The live sessions within the “Meet” pillar took place over two days and featured both demonstrations from vendors highlighting some of the exciting products available in the show as well as chance to ask questions and receive guidance from merchandise category managers. Using FullStory and analytics to see how customers were using the show, we saw lower engagement within the “Meet” category and knew an adjustment would need to be made for our second show. 

While the general offering changed very little, we completely changed the way we phrased and positioned the live elements of the event. The “Meet” section became our “Live Show” and “Upcoming Sessions” became our “Live Schedule”. Repositioning this feature as a live event you can join that is happening now is a much different feeling than asking a customer to attend a live session. In addition to the repositioning, we gave the Live Show a prominent place within the main navigation and during the 2 days it was running we gave it the most visual weight within our virtual lobby. 

An Upgraded Shopping Experience

One of the main points of feedback we were seeing from customers during our first event was that they were feeling lost after adding items to their cart. Because the show featured many different items across many different categories, there was a wish to return to the exact location they were after adding items to their cart rather than being offered a simple “Continue Shopping” button. Customers typically shopped by category and would be adding multiple items from a single category for extended periods of time. Customer carts could easily be in the hundreds of items. 

We improved shopping in a variety of ways for our second event. The browsing was simplified by including the main shopping categories within the side navigation and installing a universal cart link that would appear on every page rather than just within the shopping section. Cart also became the top link within the side navigation giving it more prominence than in the past show. In addition to navigation improvements, we added some core new functionality.

We developed completely new customer journeys for adding items to your cart. Rather than moving the customer to the cart, we offered a cart preview that would slide out upon adding any item to your cart. This allowed you to close the cart preview to continue shopping and remain exactly where you were in the shopping experience. The preview also provided the option to continue to checkout for those customers that were ready to proceed. The universal cart link we created would open this cart preview, allowing you quick and easy access throughout the entire show.

In addition to this major UX improvement, we implemented “Quick Buy” functionality. A Quick Buy button was added to every product result. This launches a lightbox providing the basic details of a product with buttons to learn more or add to cart.  This new feature allowed customers to add items to their cart directly from a results page and remain there throughout their shopping experience if they chose. 

A look to the future

The show is currently wrapping up and we will begin this process again. Going through internal and external audits to see what could be improved, what worked well and any pain points or issues that we can identify and address. We will be collecting and absorbing that data for continued refinement in the future. Currently, we are already seeing positive feedback on our UX improvements for this second event and look forward to continuing our improvements and refinements going forward.