‘Virtual shopping’ is a newly emerged term used to describe the unique shopping experience that is savoured with VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) technologies. Online customers get to browse around a store, enjoy product displays, and complete purchases the way they normally would — all from the comfort of their homes.
It’s a unique fusion between the immersive nature of physical retail and the ease of shopping online, or what we call a seamless omnichannel experience.
What Are The Benefits of Virtual Shopping?
With the emergence of immersive technology, more and more retailers are offering virtual experiences to their customers not only to eliminate the gap between online and physical stores but also to offer many other benefits below
1. Value-Added Services That Improve the Shopping Experience
Virtual shopping platforms allow brands to experiment with new value-added services. Offerings such as live chats with store associates, virtual tours, interactive quizzes and games, and social shopping with friends are designed to make the experience of shopping online as frictionless as possible. Shoppers can assess and configure products in 3D, zoom in and out from different angles to evaluate product quality and suitability, and make purchases in real-time.
To add a new level of intrigue to the online shopping experience, retailers can look to build immersive virtual showrooms or virtual stores. These platforms offer customers a virtual experience that is just about as close to heading out to a physical store as you can get.
2. More Resilience to COVID-19 Disruption
It is no secret that the biggest pandemic success stories in the retail industry have come from brands that have pivoted to e-commerce. More and more brands have started to recognise the power of virtual retailing and have turned to immersive technology to power engaging online shopping experiences.
While increasing sales through e-commerce channels, virtual shopping is also helping to secure the future of physical stores. For customers who prefer brick-and-mortar over online stores, they can use online sessions with store associates to scope out product choices before leveraging physical stores to complete purchases. This helps to ensure brick-and-mortar commerce remains alive and well while making the shopping experience safer and more convenient.
3. More Opportunities to Gather Customer Data
Virtual shopping comes with a suite of data analytics that can help retailers garner real-time insights on customer behaviour to support decision-making processes. They can track foot traffic as customers move around the website and track which products end up in the shopping cart, and spot any missing links where conversions are underperforming. In a 3D environment, retailers get to see how customers react to their merchandising efforts in a way they simply can’t measure offline.
4. Increase Sales
Unlike regular e-commerce stores, websites and apps with an immersive element can make the purchasing process even more engaging. The use of Augmented Reality (AR) in virtual shopping, for example, allows people to interact longer with products in a more personalised way, creating a powerful sales channel that is always at the customer’s convenience. People can better understand how a product would fit into their lives, which in many cases motivates them to make a purchase decision during that single online session. An improved shopping experience means better sales growth opportunities.
5. Experiment With Different Store Concepts
Virtual shopping can help retailers create a more dynamic storefront. It gives retailers the ability to A/B test different store concepts with their customers without having to go through the time and expense of changing an actual storefront. For instance, they could use a virtual store as a pop-up teaser campaign for their upcoming physical stores, helping them to drive online traffic.
A virtual storefront can be used as an exercise in branding as much as commerce. Brands can produce a unique 3D shopping experience by using architecturally-accurate modeling and innovative interactive design.
Leveraging immersive technologies, virtual shopping is transforming retail and e-commerce by addressing their pain points and enhancing their processes. Virtual shopping has also helped retailers successfully engage and deliver seamless shopping experiences to their customers, hence improving sales and brand loyalty. Identify where immersive technologies fit into your objectives and offerings and create experiences that bring better results for your company.
Silversea Media Group offers an is an end-to-end virtual retail solution, including everything from virtualising the physical environment using its 3D scanners to enabling customers to easily edit and update interactive information on its powerful backend platform. Silversea Media Group also supports a fully-rendered, lifelike virtual environment that can be custom-tailored to a customer’s desired specifications through 3D software. Both forms allow retailers to deliver a unique and eye-catching experience for their targeted audiences. Click here to find out more.