Virtual Reality Shopping and Commerce
Shopify has shown that it is keeping an eye out for important industry trends by including a VR display. An indication that Shopify CEO, Tobi Lütke, is incredibly passionate about VR, and is positioning his company at the forefront of the coming vCommerce (virtual commerce) movement.
Tobi is clearly not the only one that has seen big potential in VR, industry giants like Google, Amazon, Alibaba, and Facebook have been scrambling to get into the market one after another in the past year or so.
Statistic from WalkerSands Communications’ Reinventing Retail 2015 say that: “More than a third of consumers (35%) say they would shop more online if they were able to try on a product virtually … and 63% said they expect it to impact their shopping experience in the future.” Not just that, Digi-Capital predicts that the AR and VR market will hit $150 billion by 2020. AR and VR will “grow new markets,” they say, and “cannibalize existing ones”.
Even though consumer demand seems to be growing for virtual commerce (vcommerce), and the market seems to be ready for rapid growth, the questions remain whether vcommerce will eventually replace eCommerce.
Many industry observers believe vcommerce while being incredibly useful will only operate alongside existing sales channels rather than immediately replacing them. They opine that it will fit into an omnichannel user experience for online stores with people despite loving the VR shopping experience, continuing to shop mostly through mobile devices, desktops, and brick-and-mortar stores.
One undeniable fact however is that virtual reality should definitely be on everyone’s radar and you should start preparing for it. Virtual commerce news should be checked periodically whilst you evaluate whether or not to upgrade your ecommerce website for VR and AR yet. There’s a good chance, however, that we’ll all need to make changes to accommodate vcommerce sooner than we think.
Virtual commerce may end up being implemented by having customers enter special rooms or pop-up stores to buy products. After putting on headsets, customers will enter virtual rooms with four walls where they can then proceed to browse items in the virtual world.
VR and AR will certainly transform experiences for consumers in online shopping, just like it is doing for gaming. It is a win-win for store owners and consumers, making it really easy for buyers to make purchases translating into retailers being able to move products faster (and at higher volume).
There are also possibilities for product placement and companies are already allowing customers to purchase real-life things in virtual worlds. In time, many innovative companies will come up with new ways to shop online that will surprise everyone and delight consumers.
Once you are in the VR experience center and have a VR headset on, shopping for items, the question remains how to actually purchase the items you are seeing, check out and pay.
One possibility is browsing for your items on the VR headset, seeing how they’ll look physically in place, then taking off the headset and purchasing the products on a traditional input system (like a tablet, computer, or mobile device).
Another, more attractive, possibility is the use of eye-tracking technology inside VR headsets that enables you select and purchase items seamlessly. Eye-tracking is a growing trend in VR technology and it’ll be only a matter of time before it can be used for vcommerce.
Eye-tracking for vcommerce could probably be implemented by having a buy button on the top corner of your headset screen. When you look at the button, the system asks you to confirm your purchase. Blinking your eyes to the “yes” button or nodding your head would establish your assent and the items would be on their way to you.
It has always been true that reducing purchasing friction for customers makes retailers sell more. VR and AR have been tipped to rise to this challenge and checkout will have to be completely frictionless otherwise customers will lose interest.
If everything consumers need is placed right in front of their eyes including stunning visuals of merchandise on sale, clear answers to questions, and easy checkout options, online stores everywhere can witness unprecedented boosts in sales.