How is VR Transforming eCommerce & Retail as a Whole?

by Jessica Robinson

How is VR Transforming eCommerce & Retail as a Whole?

 

We live in a contemporary world characterized by a lot of technological advancements and digital transformation in and out of businesses. Globally, technology is influencing the way people live and is also impacting business operations more than ever before. Trends like online shopping, digital payments, and the use of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa aren’t unusual today.

Additionally, the modern century is witnessing different technologies enter the business realm. Technologies like AI (artificial intelligence), IT (information technology), VR (virtual reality), and AR (augmented reality) are no longer science fiction things. It’s a reality and will remain to be so. These technologies help businesses make informed decisions, operate efficiently, and extend seamless experiences to customers.

The latest technology to make it in the eCommerce and retail sphere is virtual reality, also known as VR. At this juncture, we would like to look at VR in the eCommerce and retail sectors and its impact. So, let’s get started.

VR in eCommerce & Retail

VR or virtual reality is a state-of-the-art technology that is used to create a three-dimensional image of anything. This technology generally introduces users to digital environments where they can explore and interact with objects in virtual spaces. 

VR creates an immersive experience and results in long-lasting memories. All that a user needs are headsets or software to enter into a virtual world. When in that world, users are able to experience a 360-degree interaction with their surroundings.

The latest statistics indicate that the VR worldwide market will be valued at $20.9 billion by 2025 and China is projected to have the most substantial VR spending globally. To substantiate, a study by Zakeke found that 41% of shoppers are willing to use VR for personalized experiences in retail. More so, many businesses are also leveraging this technology to offer top-notch shopping experiences to their customers.

VR in eCommerce and retail can be used in many ways. It can help a business improve customer experience, optimize sales cycles, or offer interactive shopping experiences. Precisely, VR could be a reason for more customers to visit your store, stay longer with you, or buy more from you.

Virtual reality can be used in many ways in the eCommerce and retail realms and this is how it’s transforming the sector; 

  1. Virtual Showrooms

The world may have gotten used to in-store experiences, but VR is bringing a brand new opportunity for shoppers to try out virtual shops. Virtual showrooms are nothing but a physical store brought into a digital world. With the help of VR headsets, shoppers can enter a virtual showroom and explore a variety of products right in their comfort zone.

Virtual showrooms are distinct online shops and are different from online stores. Generally, an online store doesn’t require a shopper to wear special goggles or use a specific app to access it or buy products. However, virtual stores are only entered with these unusual parameters. Virtual stores offer a 360-degree view of every item in a store as though in a physical store.

The experience is also remarkable, as customers can listen to music while checking out the products or even try them on. Such possibilities can boost online shopping conversions by 17% as per Techjury.   

  1. Virtual Shopping Assistants

Virtual assistants have been around for a while now but are popular for basic tasks such as online searches, making calls, or clarifying something. When it comes to eCommerce and retail, virtual shopping assistants have a lot to offer. They can provide information about a product, for example, about its use, and even make product recommendations.

More so, virtual shopping assistants can provide 24/7 support to shoppers and help them make informed purchase decisions. With this, a business can reduce returns, maximize ROI, and retain its customer base. 

  1. Try-Before-You-Buy

Customers generally prefer visiting physical stores because they can physically examine products and try them where necessary before making a purchase. This is thought to be one of the added advantages of opting for physical stores. However, with technological advancements, shoppers can utilize VR to assess a product and even try it on in a virtual fitting room.

Several brands like FaceCake, Toms, and Fashion retailer Asos are already using VR to help customers try on products like jewelry and apparel, or even use simulated models to ascertain how certain products would look on them in the real world.

Other brands like Warby Parker and L’Oreal use VR to offer best-in-class shopping experiences while retaining their customers. IKEA is another brand that uses this technology in conjunction with AR to help customers project how a specific furniture set would look in their living spaces. 

  1. Virtual Live Events

We now understand how it may feel or how the world may look when it comes to a standstill. The unprecedented era of the pandemic generally showed us alternatives to in-person shopping and large events. Virtual live events are now part of the normal and are helping businesses widen their audiences.

Merchants can now conduct virtual live events and let those in faraway areas have the same experience as those attending in-person. Brands like BMW allow their customers to use VR apps or goggles, to experience what’s it like to drive a car with specific functions before buying it. 

  1. Product Customization

VR is currently offering an opportunity for shoppers to fine-tune their products such as cars before buying them. While seated in their comfort zones, customers can tailor their desired cars as per their needs. BMW currently offers an opportunity to its customers to enter its virtual showrooms where they can customize cars as preferred.  

Customers can alter the color, style, and interior of the car to meet their choice. With such capabilities, the brand is able to boost conversions, which is one of the major Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for any modern business. Similarly, any other business and brand can utilize VR to offer such experiences to customers. 

  1. Product Journeys 

Modern customers aren’t easily attracted by reasonable prices. They long to stay with brands that share their values and those that have a genuine story behind them. With that, businesses must work hard to cultivate long-term relationships with customers, more so, to keep them happy. Virtual reality can help businesses keep their customer base happy and willing to buy more. 

With the help of VR, brands can help customers know how products reach shelves, understand the supply chain, and witness the impact that their brands have on local suppliers. Brands like Toms currently allow their customers to travel virtually to meet their local suppliers and see where the donations they make end up. 

  1. Shopping With Friends 

Group shopping and try-on experiences are mostly what highlighted in-person shopping as irreplaceable. However, modern technologies like VR and AR are making such experiences possible in the online world. Apart from shopping with a virtual assistant, shoppers can shop in groups too to render shopping fun and more like traditional shopping.

Brands like Charlotte Tilbury are already trying out this innovative feature that lets customers shop in groups, ask for their opinions or share their favorite looks. With such capabilities, online shopping will cease to be a mere activity, but fun and interactive.

Bottom Line

VR technology may seem new in the eCommerce and retail sector, but it’s already a force to be reckoned with. Although it is an expensive technology, introducing customers to VR where possible can enhance their experiences and optimize business potential. Besides, it’s a futuristic technology that points to the future of eCommerce and retail.

Currently, VR has proven to offer seamless shopping experiences, expand customer base, and increase conversions. Precisely, it is transforming every aspect of eCommerce and retail.

Jessica Robinson

Content Manager at Speaking Polymath

Jessica Robinson loves to write interesting and knowledgeable blogs regarding business management, education and life to satiate the curiosity of her lovely readers. Currently, she is serving as a content manager at the ‘Speaking Polymath’. Every piece of content that she writes demonstrates her immense love and passion for her profession.