Applications of VR for E-Commerce
Looking at the emerging trend of virtual reality, e-commerce players are dedicating their days and nights to getting their online stores updated with the same. Virtual reality has been easing the process of online shopping for all users and is thus filling the gap between virtual and physical worlds.
Here are some of the major applications of Virtual Reality in the E-commerce sector:
One of the most popular and useful applications of virtual reality technology is a virtual showroom. A virtual showroom is nothing but a digitized online store that has been specially designed to provide a full browsing experience for online shoppers. Sometimes they are the exact copy of a physical store for the customers to feel they are presenting themselves in the shop.
The use of virtual reality in online stores have changed all buyers’ experience and have taken e-commerce business to newer heights. Virtual shopping stores are programmed in a way that the buyer feels he is actually roaming around the shop while just sitting on his couch. Moreover, some brands are also choosing high-tech virtual reality programming through which customers can meet friends and shop together in real-time. A popular article that was published by MarketWatch in October 2020 mentioned a technology called the “Wormhole” that creates a scenario for group shopping by the use of avatars.
A virtual store offers much more than any customer could expect from an e-commerce site. There are real-time fashion consultants or relationships managers that are available for the client’s help. Moreover, by the use of Augmented reality, a person can visualize how a product fits in his own house, whereas VR helps him to check on the other characteristics of a product. Virtual stores are created with a vision to offer satisfaction to the clients as they promise a seamless virtual shopping experience.
Virtual try-on is again one of the major ways the e-commerce sector is using virtual reality technology. In simple words, virtual try-on is similar to Instagram filters. The way your Instagram or Snapchat filters change your pictures’ contrast, tones, warmth, background, etc, the virtual try-on feature arranges the piece of clothing, accessory, or footwear on your body part before you buy it.
The virtual try-on feature is one of the major additions that have helped boom the e-commerce industry like anything. Virtual try-on generally makes use of augmented reality (AR) and can be availed by literally everyone who has a smartphone. Under this feature, a customer will just have to open his camera and the product will appear applied to his body, virtually. For instance, websites that sell contact lenses or glasses offer the virtual try-on feature through which a customer can try his favorite lenses, glasses, or sunglasses and choose accordingly. The best part of this technology is that it reduces the product return or cancellation numbers.
Despite the customer’s point of view, virtual try-on also plays a major role in guiding manufacturing companies to create and improvise their products according to the customer demands to ultimately have a satisfied customer.
- Improves the in-store experience
Unlike a physical shopping mart that engages and keeps you refreshed throughout your shopping by setting an inviting ambiance, perfect lighting, and soothing music, doing this in an online store is near to impossible. However, e-commerce brands are using VR in all possible ways to attract their potential customers.
Most of the virtual stores today use VR to display their products in appealing virtual environments to showcase how they can be used. Moreover, brands use virtual reality to build extravagant aspirational worlds where they fit their products and invite the customer to have a tour of the place, virtually. This gets him involved and he analyzes the products’ features and benefits in real-time.
Apart from the online stores, today even the brick and mortar stores are finding a chance to include VR in their stores. Many retail brands invite customers and educate them about the brand’s legacy with the help of VR which further outlines the brand value in that customer’s mind.
We have seen several applications of VR where it is helping in promoting sales for the brand, whether directly or indirectly. However, VR is not just limited to sales. It is actually a good tool to build on the buzz for any industry. Suppose that Zara launches its online apparel range and a try-on feature with it wherein you can use your picture and convert yourself into a rockstar or maybe a fashion model with your favorite apparel in Zara’s range.
You can even post these pictures on your social media accounts. This can be a good strategy to showcase the latest trends in the fashion industry and create a buzz about the clothing industry online. Moreover, it will excite that market segment which generally doesn’t shop with Zara but will get an idea about what it feels and looks like.
A similar example can be if a famous bike company launches a digitalized bike racing game wherein even a middle-class man can experience the feel of driving a luxury bike.
One more use of virtual reality can be to create interactive and easy user manuals for customers. Meanwhile, a normal user manual comes in a physical copy format that explains the working of any device through diagrams, a virtual user manual will do the same through an app but in a better way.
For instance, if a person has bought a dishwasher from a virtual store, he gets a digitalized user manual that can be in the form of an app wherein he can scan the machine and watch its interior features, functions and learn how to set it up. In this way, the user will get a complete idea of how his product has been made and what the safety instructions are.
Experts mention that handing over this kind of interactive user manual to the clients can reduce the work of post-sales support teams and will also satisfy the customers in a better way.
Benefits of Virtual Reality
Now that we have seen there are a lot of ways virtual reality is being used in the e-commerce industry, it will not be wrong to call it the future of e-commerce. Let us look at some of the major advantages of having virtual reality included in online shopping:
- Leaves a memorable impact on the customer
These days everyone follows what’s trending in the world, if something is happening on social media sites or is getting popular on the TV it influences the general public too. Virtual Reality is no less than a trend these days and when people get to be a part of it, it actually becomes memorable and exciting for them.
Virtual Reality is a fascinating way of attracting customers, showing them your brand’s history or the newly launched products without even giving them the pain of getting up from their couches, makes them feel over the top. E-commerce companies are trying their best to convert their client’s online shopping journey to an unforgettable experience.
- Reduces the number of cancelations and returns:
Virtual reality has introduced people to VTO, which is a virtual try-on where the customers can easily try the products and check whether they should buy them or not. When people try a product virtually there are very few chances of them placing a cancellation or returning a request for the same. All of this saves the company’s extra work and at the same time satisfies a customer by providing their favorite products.
- Ignites word of mouth publicity
All brands know, word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful marketing techniques. Today social media has made this technique even more successful. Virtual reality is capable of giving that immersive experience that is memorable and shareable as well. And as VR experience is one of the trendiest things to do these days, people tend to follow them too.
- Can help digital marketing campaigns
The world is moving towards digitalization at a faster pace and so are marketing campaigns. Companies are trying their best to develop new and powerful digital marketing campaigns every day and VR and AR can help them in this.
Ads made with AR are getting very popular these days on social media sites as they are a new concept for the audience. Google is also planning to include AR product images in its organic and paid searches to give its users a better shopping experience.
- Improves the consumer-seller relationship
An old but tested method of impressing your customers is to “show, don’t tell”. Virtual reality makes this work very easy for you. If you have an e-commerce store, giving your customers a virtual tour of the store along with a try-on feature and a virtual assistant will make them super confident and assured when buying a product from your store. This will not only establish a good relationship between your brand and your clients but will also give you a competitive edge over other players.
Online shopping was introduced to provide convenience and save customers valuable time. But with the addition of virtual reality, the e-commerce sector has removed all issues that a customer can face while shopping online. Virtual reality offers virtual tours and product trails too that help the customer to buy the product with zero anxiety. When an online store offers several features as a physical one would do, customers would likely enjoy shopping online.
- Help spread brand awareness
Today the general public is glued to the internet and every day they watch thousands of brands and their advertisements. However, only a small percentage of the targeted audience tends to click on the ads. Therefore, to make your brand stand out in the crowd it is important to offer something exciting and unique. Including VR and AR techniques in your online store would most likely help you to spread your brand’s uniqueness and customer-friendly features among your audience.
In this modernized world, customers have turned even pickier. They are not ready to compromise on their choices and that is mostly because they have a lot of options available. In this situation only attracting audiences to your website is not enough, there should be something extra that can make them click on the buy button. Well VR and AR technologies promise to offer such results as they provide an impressive and immersive experience to the clients. A new client when they find something unique and interesting tends to stay on the web page for a longer time than ultimately promoting sales.
A few sections of people still don’t believe in the authenticity of online shopping and only trust the traditional methods. They believe in visualizing and feeling the whole product from all angles before investing in it. While this is where virtual reality pitches in to act as a bridge. With the help of virtual reality, a person can walk into a virtual environment and visualize the features of the product he wants to buy.
Meanwhile, Augmented Reality helps them to place the same product in their house to gain the potential buyer’s full confidence. In this way, a person who had disbelief in purchasing an item online is now a satisfied and happy customer.
COVID pandemic has left us with many new norms and standards like hygiene, safety measures, social distancing, etc. In this scenario, most of the brick and mortar stores are shutting down to open their own online stores, because today the public is not outside but sitting at their home and surfing online. Moreover, why go to a physical store and get exposed to all that danger when you just walk around the same store, virtually.
Not only for the e-commerce sector and the customers but this has been promoted by the governments of many countries too so as to keep everyone safe from the deadly disease.