Virtual shopping experiences are transforming both brick-and-mortar and online shopping stores at a fast pace. With the market for augmented reality and virtual reality valued at $30.7 billion with 810 million active mobile users, there is an enormous opportunity for online retailers to expand into virtual spaces.
Virtual reality in eCommerce can bring multiple benefits, from increased conversion to higher engagement rates. But what exactly is a virtual shopping experience? In this article, we’ll explain what a virtual shopping experience is, list some of its key benefits, and share tips on how to create a virtual personal shopping strategy that converts.
What is Virtual Shopping
Virtual shopping is a term that describes the distinctive shopping experience that may be enjoyed through VR technology.
It allows users to browse and purchase goods online much like they would in a physical store. Thanks to virtual shopping, customers can browse the whole online product catalog while conversing with a product expert in real time, virtually trying on things, and receiving recommendations.
The end result is a genuine omnichannel experience that smoothly combines online and offline shopping.
Benefits of a Virtual Shopping Experience
Virtual shopping can offer so many benefits to both retailers and customers. Here’s a detailed look at some of those benefits:
Bridging the gap between in-store and eCommerce experience
One of the reasons why eCommerce has experienced fast development is because it provides a quick, self-directed buying experience. Customers can order products at any time without having to deal with crowded sales associates or lengthy checkout lines. But even the most frictionless online shopping experience falls short of the excitement of in-person shopping. When there isn’t personal interaction with customer service professionals, the experience may feel, at best, impersonal.
For this reason, many customers still choose to do the majority of their shopping in physical stores, despite the surge in online retail sales. In fact, 70% of shoppers rate the chance to see, touch, and try on products as their favorite aspect of in-store shopping.
Virtual showrooms give businesses a means to bridge the gap between utilitarian and enjoyable shopping. They offer customers the convenience of shopping online, but also the human touch that is associated with going into a physical store, improving the overall customer experience.
A great example of this in practice is Ruti, a luxury fashion brand that promotes their virutal showroom using Justunoo pop-ups and experienced a 78% increase in AOV and 210% increase in conversion rate with pop-up engagement. Learn more about their success and strategy here.
Increasing customer engagement
VR and AR in retail can significantly enhance consumer engagement with businesses and increase it. How? Augmented reality is interactive, so users are engaged by default. AR is being used to guide shoppers through retail stores and helps them locate items more quickly. Ikea used this technology to let customers virtually place items in their homes and see how they look.
VR, on the other hand, creates an immersive experience that beats images and videos when it comes to customer engagement. For instance, thanks to virtual reality, customers can tour a store or try on clothes from the comfort of their homes.
Offering a personalized shopping experience
Using technologies like these to provide an AR and VR experience onsite, allow you to bring the human touch aspect of an in-store shopping experience but collect and leverage data to personalize their experience online in a way that wasn’t possible before.
Online shopping is the ultimate opportunity to collect and track data from start to finish, VR & AR is simply an extension of that providing an even more personalization for every visitor. They’re in control of what they’re experiencing and have open-ended possibilities to engage with on your website.
Customer satisfaction and trust
One of the most important factors for building a virtual shopping experience and using VR/AR technology on your website is that it helps customers make better shopping decisions from the start. The virtual try-before-you-buy aspect of this virtual experience means that they’ll have more information to make a choice with from the start and more context—reducing return likelihood and boosting satisfaction.
How to Create Virtual Personalized Shopping Strategy That Converts
As you can see, virtual reality has a wide range of advantages, but a lot needs to be considered in order to unlock the full potential of VR and AR solutions. Here are the key elements of an effective VR eCommerce strategy.
Decide on the right technology
What works for a hardware shop might not work for an online fashion retailer—choosing the right virtual shopping technologies is a multi-step process. You will need to thoroughly consider the available possibilities based on your company characteristics, target audience, and customer preferences. The options for implementing virtual technology in eCommerce include but are not limited to:
- VR fitting rooms
- VR showrooms
- Virtual stores
- VR games and apps
- Product placement
- 3D product models
Create great interactive content
In order to unlock the full potential of virtual technology, it needs to be accompanied by really intriguing and engaging content.
The most important thing when creating your content is to prioritize your audience and turn people into the stars of their own virtual experiences. Giving your customers a say in the action instantly piques their interest and improves engagement.
If you’re just wanting to dip your toe in the virtual shopping experience water, start with a 3D product model. Just one of these allows your customers to test out different colors, designs, and patterns on a single product. Flexible customization for customers with minimal lift on your end to see how they respond to and engage with virtual shopping options.
Ensure payment simplicity
Payments may easily make or break a customer’s virtual shopping experience, regardless of where they purchase their goods. It can be difficult to force customers to leave their virtual environment and use standard payment methods in VR settings, making the checkout process even more difficult.
To address this issue, innovative online retailers have introduced in-VR payments, which let customers make payments while shopping in virtual reality. Alibaba’s VR Pay is one such example, which enables customers to buy products through VR devices by just nodding their heads.
Protect customer data
Since clients submit their financial information, data security is another important issue that cannot be ignored. Virtual technology makes use of eye tracking, iris scans, gesture recognition, voice prints, and other individual traits to fully immerse a user in a virtual world. This vast amount of biometric data is linked to financial and geospatial data about individual users, creating an increased risk for data compromisation.
For this reason, standard security precautions must be implemented, including network security, data encryption, frequent firmware updates, integration with reputable third-party providers, and more, just as with other connected technology.
The Bottom Line
There is a solid reason why virtual shopping is hailed as the future of retail and the next frontier for e-commerce to conquer. The adoption of virtual technology is an important strategy for developing a more human approach to online and offline interactions. You can support your consumers wherever they are with online buying.
Because they can purchase from home and still receive the same level of service as at a store, it makes the process even simpler. Additionally, it facilitates the seamless movement of in-store customers to an online setting, resulting in an omnichannel purchasing experience.
A thoughtfully designed approach that enables you to effortlessly integrate the technology into the foundation of your eCommerce business is required to fully realize the potential of VR. Start by determining the best use case, then work toward implementing it while concentrating on creating top-notch VR content, making checkouts as simple as possible, and maintaining data security.