What Does Virtual Reality for eCommerce Actually Mean for Your Business?

The Current Status of Virtual Reality for eCommerce

Virtual reality for eCommerce is poised to upend the online shopping experience, but only according to some people. Over the past few years, companies creating simulated and virtual reality (VR) shopping experiences have seen a massive influx in investment. This support from venture capital, coupled with an increased attention to virtual reality for eCommerce stores, shows that many people believe widespread virtual shopping is closer than we think.

However, there are a number of naysayers still out there. Everyone from tech reporters to eCommerce experts aren’t sold on the potential of virtual reality for eCommerce shopping and online stores. Where does this division leave an eCommerce store trying to decide whether or not to invest in virtual reality and augmented reality capabilities?

Likely, you won’t implement a virtual shopping experience tomorrow, but it’s time to consider how virtual and augmented reality can fit into your digital marketing strategy and expand the shopping experience on your site in the future.

What Exactly Is Virtual Reality?

Many science fiction films have imagined an entirely virtual existence, with perhaps The Matrix as the most famous example of this. These movies depict an immobile, unconscious human that, willfully or unknowingly, resides in a simulated reality. Nothing actually exists, despite the fact that things look, feel, and smell entirely real.

Virtual reality for eCommerce is light-years away from creating a shopping universe on par with what is depicted in many of the virtual reality films, but a combination of improved technology and environmental design are creating some very interesting possibilities. Everyday, shoppers can experience products in a new, interesting way. When it comes to eCommerce, experience design can make shoppers feel as if they have actually entered a store to browse. While simulated, the virtual world looks real.

The development of specialty-designed headsets makes the possibilities for virtual reality even more broad. Designers are recreating the exact environments portrayed in famous online games and from movies. Through these devices, designers have incredible storytelling tools and a whole new way to captivate an audience.

As marketers imagine a use for these headsets beyond gaming, the impact of virtual reality for eCommerce could be massive.

A Pathway to Virtual Reality for eCommerce

eCommerce has proved to be an innovative and transformative industry. The brands and businesses invested in online shopping are hungry to offer the latest technology and interesting options to their customers. Over the years, this has led to a number of improvements in the online shopping experience. The process behind online payments is a great example.

The acceptance of online payments are a necessity for eCommerce. From the start, the ability to pay via the retailer’s website was a required component for the success of eCommerce. However, the process wasn’t always straightforward. People didn’t trust the process of giving credit card and other information online. Online retailers had to provide assurances to their customers that online payments were safe.

Therefore, digital signatures, in-depth personal information, and other requirements made transactions bulky. Today, people can carry their entire wallet in digital form, including all their credit card information and identification. These cards can be “swiped” for a purchase in a matter of one or two clicks.

Therefore, the move towards other technology that makes the online shopping experience more enjoyable is inevitable. Virtual reality for eCommerce makes sense from practical and experiential perspectives, and is almost guaranteed to improve online shopping for customers. Plus, eCommerce stores are able to showcase their products in a brand new way with virtual reality, which, if done correctly, puts them in a position to make more sales.

Many companies are already finding strategic and interesting ways to make their online shopping more experiential. Sounds, color, photography, and video are all utilized to capture a tangible store in an online world. Virtual reality for eCommerce is the extension of these immersive tactics.

What’s Next in Virtual Reality for eCommerce

Traditional shopping has always held one advantage over eCommerce. The brick and mortar store can offer a tangible version of a product. It is impossible for an eCommerce company to overcome this disparity of experience. The brick and mortar store simply offers more to the average shopper; with the only exceptions being convenience and, sometimes, price.

Now, these stores are embracing virtual reality faster than their eCommerce counterparts. This makes sense since a physical store can own a single virtual reality system or set and provide the VR experience to all customers whereas an online seller needs every customer to own a personal virtual reality headset. This isn’t holding back some online stores, as their answer is to move into augmented reality as opposed to full-on VR.

Therefore, certain eCommerce companies are setting their brand apart for customers by incorporating augmented reality into their shopping experience. This grey area between product pages and the need for a specialized headset is winning over shoppers in a number of industries. Two example industries are home décor and women’s clothing.

Examples of Augmented Reality in ECommerce

First, online retailers of home goods, interior decorations, and similar products are finding augmented reality to be interesting and helpful for the customer experience. A shopper can design an entire room before making a single purchase. The customer stays engaged with the eCommerce company for an extended period of time, which leads to greater chance of conversion. As well, the customer sees and interacts with multiple products, which leads to additional purchases.

Second, a select number of women’s clothing companies are experimenting with virtual dressing rooms and similar concepts. The basis for these online dressing rooms is to mimic the experience of trying on clothing. Shoppers can input certain characteristics, such as height, weight, and body type. Next, you browse the product page for options, and head to the virtual dressing room.  There, the clothes can be viewed on a digital person that is representative of the specific customer.

This type of online experience gives shoppers a better idea of how the clothes will fit in real life. Brands hope this type of virtual reality for eCommerce will increase engagement and decrease the number of returns. Through this technology, a customer is one step closer to traditional shopping and able to make more informed purchases. The next step, of course, is to build virtual reality for eCommerce that allows the shopper to see his or her exact form in the clothing.

eCommerce companies that sell jewelry, watches, and similar products are also experimenting with technology that shows how and when these products are worn. In particular, the ability to design and see an engagement ring online has become an intriguing concept for a number of men and women.

Work with an Innovative Digital Agency

In eCommerce, the companies that attempt innovative customer experiences stay ahead of their competition. These businesses are more memorable because they offer something new and exciting. As augmented reality becomes an attainable and cost-effective option for more eCommerce companies, how this technology can be utilized in your online store is a necessary consideration. As well, virtual reality for eCommerce seems imminent. Is your digital agency ready to make the leap with your business?

1Digital Agency provides eCommerce platform advice and strategies that work best for your business right now, but we always have an eye on the future. This philosophy leads to innovative solutions for Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, and Magento stores, regardless of industry. To contact 1Digital Agency, call our Philadelphia office at (215) 809-1567.

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