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Virtual Reality E-Commerce. How to Win with VR/AR?

Customer satisfaction, brand awareness, sales process efficiency… How to improve them? Retail businesses are on the permanent search of new solutions. And IT sphere is steadily generating new ideas. One of the most recent tech inventions is virtual reality e-commerce. Combining the features of traditional shops and the ones in the internet, it makes the shopping experience more friendly.

Virtual and augmented reality change the way businesses function. We thought about most spread problems of online shops and traditional retailers. Unsurprisingly, they all can be solved with augmented and virtual reality e-commerce.

Virtual reality e-commerce challenges
By ThinkMobiles

These solutions might be obvious or unexpected, but they will for sure inspire you to move your business forward. So let’s get started!

Store construction costs saved by virtual reality e-commerce

Opening a new store is a time and efforts consuming process. At first, you decide whether you rent or buy an existing property, or start the constructions of a new one.  Both options have their pros and contras. Both of them require huge investments with no guarantee.

High store construction costs

The costs of building an average supermarket in the USA are around $7 million. The process could last for several months or even years. Add the materials, labor and machine costs. Land acquisition, demolition are paid extra.

Are you ready to invest such a large amount of money without any guarantees? I doubt this.

Virtual stores and supermarkets with clear benefits

And what about opening a supermarket in virtual reality? No, I’m not kidding.

Why would you build brick-and-mortar stores, when you can create a virtual one?

Virtual store construction
Virtual store construction – By Yihaodian

Virtual reality e-commerce project development might take 2 to 20 months, depending on the complexity. The price may vary from $15 000 to $300 000.

Yes, you counted it right. A virtual store can be 20 times cheaper than an average real supermarket. And it is not the only advantage of such a solution. Add to this:

  • No limits in store location
    You can open your store in any place. Satisfy your customers with the most convenient central location. No land acquisitions, no permissions, no actual construction. Your store can be located even in the middle of the historical district.
  • No energy costs, no rent
    Virtual stores don’t consume energy and therefore save your money
  • Small development team
    You won’t need a team to construct the facility or to renovate the existing one. You hire a development company, which takes all the management of the virtual shopping project. At the end you receive a ready to use solution.
  • No regular staff
    You don’t need to hire the permanent employees, as there is no physical location, in fact.
  • Affordable chain store development
    Building another virtual reality e-commerce store of the same chain will not cost you the same money, as for the first one. It just slightly increases the total development cost.
  • More customers
    Convenient location, special services, and incredible virtual shopping experience attract more customers. They like the huge variety of goods and free delivery right to their door.

1000 virtual stores in one night – Yihaodian success

The Chinese online retailer Yihaodian is the pioneer in delivering unique virtual shopping experience. During just one night the company opened 1000 stores in the most crowded and popular sightseeing places around China. One can not recognise these shops until he uses the augmented reality e-commerce app.

The application shows the way to the nearest Yihaodian virtual store. When getting to the store, the app becomes your personal navigator through the supermarket. You can walk along the full shelves and choose products to put into the basket. You’ll not have to wait in the queues. The checkout and payment proceeds right in the app.

The most pleasant thing about virtual reality e-commerce shops is no need to carry the heavy shopping bags. Everything is delivered right to your home for free.

Instead of investing several million dollars in building a brick-and-mortar store, Yihaodian launched thousand virtual stores all around the country. This decision helped the grocer to increase its revenue by 17% in just three months.

Moreover, such an innovative solution made world’s top media talk about Yihaodian. Great investment, isn’t it?

Expensive and risky transportation of goods to potential partners and retailers

Producers are always looking for reliable retailers to sell their products. Retailers in their turn care about the quality of the goods they are going sell. The communication between the producer and the retailer might face some difficulties, especially when it comes to shipping the product examples through the whole country or even to another part of the world. Goods transportation might be expensive and not secure.

Virtual reality e-commerce solution for fast and safe goods presentation

Goods are different. Some of them can be sent for presentation via mail without any troubles. Precious and fragile products like jewelry, electronics or some pieces of art are risky to transport. Virtual reality allows the producers to present their products without the need to ship them! This is a clear profit for both sides:

  • Immediate delivery, no delays and no shipping costs;
    The potential retailer doesn’t have to wait for the delivery. He can take a close look on the product just by putting on the VR headset.
  • No risk during shipping
    Shipping might be not safe, as the products can be damaged or lost. When you choose the VR presentation, such danger doesn’t appear at all.
  • Multi-channel presentation
    Even if there is only one sample of the product, it is possible to present it to multiple potential retailers and partners at once. Just let them download and launch the VR app and get to know the product as close as possible.

It also happens, that some item is not available in the particular store, but can be delivered from the storage or from another store on client’s request. Using a virtual reality e-commerce  applications he can take a close look at the item and make his decision.

Delivering virtual shopping experience can help you sell goods even if they are not in stock. 

High return rate of online purchases

Online retail business is always connected with high return rates. When the customer can not try the item out, he may be disappointed with the goods he receives. In average, every third online purchase is returned. This means extra costs for the online retailer.

Augmented reality e-commerce minimizes returns

Virtual reality e-commerce has got another smart solution for this. What about combining the benefits of the online shops with that of the physical stores? VR or AR enabled device with specific software allows the customer to see and feel the product, just like it is possible in the shop.

Online shops confirm that virtual shopping experience allowed to reduce returns by 23% with minimal investments.

Virtual reality e-commerce apps can minimize returns
Virtual reality e-commerce apps can minimize returns – by ThinkMobiles

Implementing virtual reality into the sales process enables the retailer to increase customer loyalty. They will

  • Try out more items
    Using virtual reality the potential buyer will try out more items and is likely to buy more. Even if he didn’t intended to do so.
  • Make the wiser choice
    Having the possibility to virtually try out several items, the customer will choose the one that fits most. Therefore, the returns decrease and the customer is more likely to recommend the service further.

Loyal customers are more likely to buy again and bring new customers.

Fit the furniture in your room before buying – IKEA AR app

IKEA had great problems with furniture returns. To solve this problem, the company decided to build an experimental augmented reality e-commerce app. The app can virtually fit the furniture in the room and lets you try out several options before buying.

To browse through the virtual catalog of IKEA you won’t need any specific hardware. The application works on every smartphone. It uses the camera and adds the picture of some furniture on the actual picture of your living space.

And this is how it looks like:

The application is really awesome. You first choose an item from the IKEA paper catalog. After that, you put the catalog where you’d like to place your new furniture. Direct the smartphone camera on it and voila! On the screen you’ll see the brand new couch instead of the catalog.

It looks very natural! The customers definitely like the option of choosing the furniture of the right size, style and color.

Queues in the fitting room

Have you ever thought of how much money every business loses right in the fitting room? Some customers, for example, prefer not to buy some piece of clothing, if they have to try it on. And around 20% of potential buyers will just leave the shop if they notice a queue in the fitting room.

Augmented reality fitting rooms

Yes, ladies, our dreams are coming true! Augmented reality e-commerce technologies enable shoppers to try stuff on quickly, easily and virtually. In other words, the client can try some piece of clothing on without the need to actually try it on. Sounds crazy, but this is what every store can take benefit of.

With virtual reality e-commerce apps your clients can try stuff out in just a few seconds. Therefore, the queues are reduced and you get more satisfied clients. This could also save time to your employees.

FaceCake app in augmented reality

FaceCake recently released its most expected augmented reality application. It makes the functioning of the retail stores much easier. The virtual reality e-commerce app scans the customer and makes his digital copy appear on the screen. Pictures of different pieces of clothes are added on the picture so that the client can see how the stuff will fit him. He is also able to turn around, to move his hands or legs.

FaceCake offers something completely new as well. It is the possibility to test cosmetics. This option was not available even in the physical stores, but augmented reality e-commerce makes it possible. The color of the lipstick, the type of the mascara, the texture of the rouge – you will be able to choose the best ones right in the store.

Besides, FaceCake app allows to try on different accessories, for example glasses, scarves, jewelry and so on.

This app is one of the pioneers in the branch. Virtual reality e-commerce apps like FaceCake aim to improve client’s satisfaction. Besides, they reduce the time spent in the fitting rooms and the time consultants spend with potential buyers.

Inability to take a close look at the product while online shopping

One of the reasons why customers prefer not to buy stuff online is the inability to see the small details of the product. Every online purchase can end up with a return, since the client is not really satisfied with the product he bought.

The higher the price of the product, the more carefully the user makes his decision. He would like to get a more detailed information about the product. And it is not always possible to find this information online.

Examine the product with virtual reality e-commerce

The potential of virtual shopping experience in this sphere is great. It can guide the customer through the product and inside of it. It gives the full information about the product, let’s the customer try it out. Virtual reality gives much more possibilities to learn about the product the user intends to buy than a physical contact with it.  

This idea can in the future replace the brick-and-mortar stores with the virtual shopping projects. Just imagine yourself making purchases sitting in your convenient couch. All you’ll need is the VR headset and the VR enabled smartphone.

Unique virtual shopping experience by Ebay and Myer

Realizing the potential of virtual shopping projects, Ebay in cooperation with the department store Myer were among the pioneers in this branch. The FaceCake was launched in Australia. The users of the app can shop for over 12 500 products inside of the virtual environment. Around 20 000 branded Google Cardboards were given away by Ebay during this campaign. Buyers were also able to use their own devices.

The user navigates through the virtual reality e-commerce app with intuitive head movements. Focusing the gaze on a particular item for a certain time is equal to tapping on it and expands the information about that item and further options. One of the most important ones is the 360-degree view. It allows to watch the item from all the possible perspectives and even get inside of it!

Distraction through mobile devices during shopping

Most of retailers consider the usage of mobile devices during shopping as a distraction. It certainly affects the shopping process, but is it really that negative?

Shoppers sometimes browse the internet looking for additional information about the item they are interested in, compare prices by other retailers and online shops or just chat with friends. Staring at the screen they sometimes pass by all the discounts. The active smartphone user is the real nightmare for the marketers.

Make them use right applications

Of course, you can not forbid the usage of phones and tablets in the store. This could make your nightmare even worse. But you can stimulate the usage of the applications for the profit of your store.

Augmented reality e-commerce app will make the customers use their phones just the way you want them to! There are hundreds of ways to make your business win with the help of smartphone usage:

  • Direct the camera to get additional info on the product;
  • Use mobile navigation through the store;
  • Check-in in the store for an impressive discount;
  • Make a selfie with a logo to win some product;
  • Etc.

And now think about all the benefits, your business can take from integrating virtual reality e-commerce apps in the physical stores.

  • Attract instead of distracting
    The smartphone can attract customers to your store. Let the customer know about the special offers in your shop through the phone. Special offers have proven to be more attractive than just low prices.
  • Deliver the newest information
    Use mobile channels to share your information. It’s the fastest and the most efficient way to let the customers know what are the news in your store!
  • Bonuses for smartphone users
    People love their phones. Give them a better deal for using your mobile app and they will love your store as well
  • Gamified shopping
    Entertain the customer during shopping. This increases engagement and therefore sales!

Augmented reality e-commerce application by Walgreens pharmacy

The pharmacy chain Walgreensimplemented augmented reality to provide the unique virtual shopping experience to its customers. At the entrance, the buyer gets an AR-enabled tablet. The application navigates you through the store helping to find goods you are looking for. Popups with sales, special offers and other interesting information appear on the screen when the buyer approaches relevant products.

This is one of the best personal shopping assistants ever.

The tablet with augmented reality e-commerce app can become a personal shopping assistant, which helps the customer to find best deals and to stay loyal to the store that takes care of them.

Learn your customer better

Virtual reality e-commerce applications have one great advantage. All of them can gather information about the customers behavior. And you will be able to use this information for your sales process improvement!

Virtual and augmented reality e-commerce
By ThinkMobiles

Want to improve your sales? You’ll have to learn your customers better. Their needs and intentions, their behavior and preferences. Implementing modern technologies in the sales process you will be able to gather all important information about your customers.

  • How many items do they try out before buying?
  • How likely are they to buy when the item is available in different colors?
  • How much time do they spend trying on one article?
  • What do they check first and therefore, what matters to them most in the product?

Statistics is the most efficient way to improve customer engagement and user experience. And there is no secret, that a happy customers returns later, tells а friend about your shop and will bring you much more!

Virtual reality e-commerce and its impact on retail
Virtual reality e-commerce and its impact on retail

Looking for a personal virtual reality e-commerce solution for your business?

If you are interested in developing your own virtual reality e-commerce application – check out our article about the VR and AR development costs – it will give you an insight into how does the development process look like, which resources it involves and how much time it takes.