Going to the market for shopping is fun, the aroma, the environment, the experience, what’s not to love? You may prefer online shopping over traditional ones, but even you must admit that it can’t provide a real shopping experience. You may miss out on things and experiences that you wouldn’t have otherwise. What if a mixture of both is presented to you? The best of both worlds. Where you can have the experience of real shopping from the comfort of your home. Thanks to modern technology, this is not science fiction anymore. Such things and experiences exist in the world of Virtual Reality or VR.
What is Virtual Reality?
The term Virtual Reality or VR is a cutting-edge technology used to create experiences that one can interact with without physically being there. Simply say, it’s a technology to create a simulated environment that is convincing and interactive. Users can not just see but interact with that simulated environment in an immersive experience.
Apart from the immersive, life-like visuals, VR also provides you with 3D audio so that you get indulged in that virtually simulated environment. VR uses an HMD or Head Mounted Display to provide users with a virtual yet immersive environment.
The introduction of Virtual Reality has well-complemented the growth of the gaming industry. More and more game developing businesses are launching a separate VR version for their game for all the technology enthusiasts out there. Furthermore, the most important application of VR is in the health industry. Surgeons can perform the surgery in a simulated environment before performing a real one. This greatly complements the success rate of surgery.
Major players including HTC, Oculus, and Sony, are investing tons of money in this industry. The potential and possibilities of VR are unimaginable and endless. However, the technology is still in its infancy stage with a lot of room to improve.
Virtual Reality Shopping centres, what are they?
The retail industry is one of the booming industries of all time, thanks to the rapidly growing world economy. The introduction of online shopping has already skyrocketed in the retail industry. Furthermore, the Coronavirus pandemic is forcing people to shop online. Online shopping via an eCommerce website is fun but you miss out on the true experience of shopping. However, you don’t really have a choice considering the safety of you and your family in this coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic came as a nightmare for all the shopping centres out there. With most of the population shopping online, the offline shopping market has taken a hit. People are also craving the real shopping experience in a shopping mall. These combined problems have forced businesses to give their attention to VR and AR.
The rapid growth of the retail industry has allowed businesses to try different technologies that may be beneficial for the company. The virtual reality shopping mall is one of them. It allows the users to have the experience of shopping in a real shopping centre from the comfort of their home. This VR shopping experience is a step-up from shopping using an eCommerce website. However, very few can access such technology due to computing limitations and financial risks.
Virtual Reality Shopping centres are shopping centres that experienced a VR headset. It combines the traditional shopping experience with that of shopping from an eCommerce website. An entire virtual shopping mall is created where users can walk in, experience, and interact with the virtual environment. It includes every aspect of a real shopping mall, rendered in 3D. Furthermore, you can also have a live chat option where you can interact with other shoppers for an even realistic experience.
Although the technology looks very promising, very few businesses have properly implemented it. One of the main reasons for that is that it involves an investment that many businesses find unnecessary. Let’s see why you haven’t experienced a Virtual Reality shopping experience yet.
What Are The Limitations Of Virtual Reality?
To understand how far away VR shopping centres are, we must take a look at the limitations of VR. As said, the technology is still in its initial stage.
- Potential Eye Damage: Unlike Augmented Reality or AR, VR can damage your eyes if used for extended periods. After it’s a display unit mounted inches away from your eyes. Even the addiction to modern-day computers has raised a problem called computer vision syndrome. If the addiction to VR gets real, the situation will become even worse. This is one of the major drawbacks of VR, major enough to get a country’s government involved if things go out of hand.
- Weight Of VR Devices: VR devices are considered very heavy for a wearable. Extended use of a VR headset can cause serious neck pain and headache. This weight is manageable, however, using lighter material but that increases the cost of the headset.
- Usability Limitations: What good uses of VR can you think of besides use in the gaming, medical, and retail industry. These are also not very optimized and stable. The uses of VR are very limited which makes it a not-so-good investment for businesses.
Why Virtual Reality Shopping centres Are Not Getting Traction?
Although Virtual Reality may have opened doors to countless opportunities for businesses, the fully functional implementation is not quite there as of now. One of those implementations is creating a VR shopping centre. For a gigantic retail business like Walmart, it’s a piece of cake. As for small and medium retail businesses, the story changes. Factors like initial investment capital and financial risks come into play which limits the expansion of VR shopping centres. Let’s see the limitations which are hindering the widespread implementation of VR shopping centres.
- Financial Limitations Of Businesses: The fully functional implementation of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality involves a decent investment. Implementing new technologies like this is a piece of cake for giant businesses but that’s not the case with small and medium businesses. Businesses don’t have enough financial resources to spend on new technologies that can have a low ROI. The ROI, however, depends on businesses to businesses and is a function of their customer base.
- Huge Risk: Businesses often associate VR as high risk and medium reward opportunity. Small businesses cannot afford to lose money on technologies their customers don’t fully understand. It’s pretty much a gamble for small businesses which needs to be avoided in any case (for small businesses).
- Graphical Limits: Although VR technology is nearly a decade old, the improvements in graphics quality are not impressive. Customers may not feel satisfied with the graphics quality of a VR shopping centre. Neither will they get to see the real quality of a product in a VR shopping centre. If the graphics of a VR shopping centre is poor, the customer will prefer eCommerce over it any day. That’s another reason why businesses don’t want to invest in Virtual Reality.
- Lack Of Understanding: VR technology was introduced a decade ago, still it hasn’t reached the user base that it should have. Virtual Reality is still a new concept for most people. Some people haven’t even heard the name of VR, let go of experiencing it. This lack of understanding in people scares retail businesses to invest in VR and create a virtual mall for their users. What good will a VR shopping centre will do if there will be no one visiting it?
- VR Headsets Are Expensive: Since its inception, the cost of VR devices hasn’t decreased significantly despite the evolution of technology and the availability of cheap parts. VR headsets cost quite a lot (around $500-$800). The price may not seem high at first glance but considering the limited applications, any average consumer can’t afford such gadgets. Imagine yourself spending $800 on a device that will be used to spend more in shopping centres. We think shopping from an eCommerce website or physically going to a shopping centre are better alternatives. Businesses can’t invest tons of financial resources on a technology that only a very limited number of their customers will be able to access.
Virtual Reality sure is a cutting-edge technology that was developed to make life easier. Is it doing its job though? VR sets the stage for more advanced technologies as the applications of VR sounds like science fiction. VR shopping centres are one of those futuristic applications where you can have a life-like shopping experience from the comfort of your home. Sounds very convenient, doesn’t it? Is it though?
Despite being a decade old, VR has failed to keep up with competing technologies like AR. The limitations of VR serve as a STOP sign for most small and medium-sized businesses. These factors play an important role in hindering the effective implementation of VR shopping centres.
VR shopping centres are not that effective at current times. Customers may prefer shopping from an eCommerce website where a fully functional implementation of AR is already taking place. Retail businesses also prefer AR over VR as it’s more convenient and is easy to implement. VR shopping centres have a long way to go before they become fully usable.