The world, in general, is experiencing huge technological advancement. Different new technologies are evolving every day which are making our lives easier and more accessible. Such a kind of technology is the VR technology that brings store at home and it’s a new approach to visit online store instead of physical stores. It is estimated that virtual reality market will be worth $70 million this year.
To utilize virtual reality, retailers have to build virtual showrooms or virtual stores which will offer a virtual experience, giving consumers the chance to visualize how a product would look with in-depth details before they actually purchase.According to TimeTrade, 85% of the consumers prefer to shop from the physical stores. The data suggests that shopping trends are in favor of the brick-and-mortar model, despite perceptions that the rise of e-tailers would jeopardize the physical retail store. “The bottom line is customers value the personal experience of the physical store,” said Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade. However the trends are changing and people are getting interested in virtual stores. More than 22% of people, according to a survey involving 1400 customers, would be less likely to visit a physical store if VR is introduced, 66% of customers are interested in using VR to make a purchase, 63% of responders are expecting their shopping experience to change and 35% would like to shop online more frequently.
Realizing the growing popularity different online marketplaces are already into it. In November 2016, e-commerce giant Alibaba launched BUY+, a virtual reality shopping program, which allows users to select apparel and accessories with the help of a 360-degree panoramic view and assistance from a robotic shopping assistant. “The company is helping consumers to look into the future by bringing in cutting-edge technologies. However, the adoption of these would need to wait till the whole industry matures and only then can Alibaba bring VR shopping to the market,” said Chris Tung, Alibaba’s chief marketing officer. Meanwhile, in May 2016, US online shopping giant eBay teamed up with Myer, an upmarket Australian department store chain, to provide a glimpse into the future of shopping by developing and launching the world’s very first departmental store inspired by Virtual Reality (VR). Some well-known companies such as IKRA, Audi, shopify and many others have started adopting VR technology in their business and found effective customer engagement rate.
The emergence of this technology reflects discernment that instead of being stagnant, companies need to seek new ways at every turn to reinvent themselves, not only to support growth but to ensure their very survival. And it is mentionable in this regard that unlike other incremental technological changes, VR technology has the potential to radically change the way customers interact with e-commerce brands.