- On October 2, 2019
What is it about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) that has brands and eRetailers bouncing around and getting so excited? We explored the Evolution of eCommerce during a series of blog posts. Here, we take a deeper dive into how these emerging technologies can shape the future of eCommerce - and ask if your business is ready for them.
The big brands are immersing themselves in VR
Virtual reality (VR) is an immersive technology that places consumers in exciting virtual shopping or brand experiences.
Inspiration, thrilling engagement and impact are just some of the reasons why the world’s leading brands are investing in creating mind-blowing VR experiences.Samsung has collaborated with NASA to create a hugely realistic moonwalk experience using VR.
TopShop invited fans to their exclusive fashion runway show during London Fashion Week using a 360-degree panoramic video stream.
Swarovski hooked up with Mastercard to create an haute couture studio that people can visit virtually and make purchases from through its app. And there are so many more examples coming through all the time.
Compelling statistics show popularity of VR among consumers
VR’s future, according to a recent Forbes report, lies in immersive virtual store design, shelf assortment, layout, and contextual store walks.
eCommerce has already significantly undermined bricks-and-mortar shopping malls, VR could damage their prospects still further.
Techjury reports that the VR market will be worth $44 billion by 2024. eMarketer predicted in a report that, in the USA alone, 42.9 million people (13 per cent of the population) will have used VR by the end of 2019.
AR/VR Journey magazine, meanwhile, reports that 66 per cent of consumers say that they would be interested in VR shopping - a figure that we think will surely rise as people become more aware of and comfortable with the fantastic immersive potential of the technology in a shopping context.
A new personalised reality for eCommerce
Augmented Reality (AR) has the power to disrupt the eCommerce with its ability to personalise and enhance shopping experiences for customers.
In short, AR gives eCommerce users computer-generated images that allow them to visualise an item - a sofa or lamp, for example - in the context of their own home, to see if it’s right for their environment. Or, work out which colour or style of wearable tech they like, or the colour of lipstick that suits them. And, if the consumer likes what they see, they can buy their new item right there and then.
Around 40 per cent of consumers say they would be willing to spend more on a product if it offered an augmented reality experience, while 61 per cent of shoppers prefer online stores with AR to those that don’t, and 71 per cent would shop with an eRetailer more often if there was AR .
What these compelling statistics demonstrate is that eRetailers offering augmented reality features and shopping experiences are giving themselves a competitive advantage that should result in conversion rates and increased sales.
Specialist agencies creating VR and AR experiences for brands and eRetailers
Specialist agencies and platforms have emerged to meet the huge demand among brands for VR and AR solutions that elevate shopping experiences.
Obsess, for instance, has launched with the mission to ‘Make Shopping Fun Again’, and to replace outdated and disengaging 2D eCommerce interfaces - first created by Amazon to sell books some 25 years ago - with ‘unique, immersive, interactive online experiences’.
Oncor is another agency that is challenging eRetailers and eCommerce stores to move away from the outdated 2D product grid layouts that have been the norm for the past 20 or so years, and to instead put their products into real world contexts. Much in the way that, say, IKEA has done for so long in its physical stores.
Oncor helps eRetailers to allow shoppers to explore an environment, select and learn about the items they like, and buy them there and then.
Geneva-based Swiss Tomato is another agency creating immersive, interactive experiences for brands and eRetailers to excite their audiences and potential customers. One example is the virtual showroom designed to create buzz around the new Mazda CX-30 at the Geneva Motor Show 2019.
In conclusion - make sure your business is ready for the future of eCommerce
Big brands are taking VR and AR very seriously.
They believe these immersive technologies could and should be the next big things in brand experiences. And, ultimately, highly effective catalysts for sales, whether that be on eRetailer platforms or standalone eCommerce sites, in-app or even offline.
It’s vital, though, that eCommerce businesses are joined-up in their thinking, and avoid the kind of organisational silos that can be obstacles to progress, or departments taking different directions in their AR or VR efforts.
Without the right kind of organisational structures and strategy in place, there is potential for confusion that could result in underwhelming experiences that disappoint would-be consumers.
And who would want to do that when there are so many exciting possibilities with AR and VR?
This article was created and written by Luigi Matrone - CEO & Founder of the eBusiness Institute.
Would you like to benefit from eBusiness Institute’s expertise?
At the eBusiness Institute, we have extensive experience of working with numerous brands on their digital transformation. We understand the importance of using technologies such as AR and VR to provide an enhanced consumer experience. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.