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Is Virtual Commerce the Next (r)Evolutionary Step in eCommerce?

Is Virtual Commerce the Next (r)Evolutionary Step in eCommerce?

Video is not king anymore. Virtual Commerce and Augmented Reality have taken the floor. Yes, we’re aware of last year’s trends. But the extremely rapid tech advancements of the second half of 2016 shifted us ready for a new kind of buyer experience.

In short, a simple application and some glasses tell a more dynamic and richer story. One in which you’re always going to be the hero. Virtual reality has a great impact on improving UX and spotlighting the users of any kind. Moreover, merging virtual and augmented realities will smoothly transcend eCommerce into virtual commerce.

The Basics of Virtual Commerce

Imagine you’re at home now. You see some regular headphones and an intriguing pair of glasses. You put them on and suddenly you get to see agitation, people; there’s an incredibly loud buzz spiced with a pointy honk that you can’t really make any sense of; bright lights, lots of colors and shapes and billboards. It’s almost overwhelming. You feel like Neo in Matrix, after taking the red pill. But you’re not. You’re in Times Square, New York. Your mind and senses think you are, at the very least. In reality, you are still in your room, but the scenery around you has changed.

You can’t yet visit any place in the world. Because reality must be recreated in the virtual environment, but I always dream to go to Madagascar. :)

Currently, there are five devices that can connect you to VR:

  • Google Cardboard – The easiest and cheapest way to try virtual reality
  • Samsung Gear VR – The best smartphone-based VR headset (for now).
  • Oculus Rift – this device tracks your head movement to all directions, so you can lean in and get right up close to virtual objects.
  • HTC Vive – you reach out and grab objects in virtual reality, and even walk around a room.
  • Sony PlayStation VR – it works with the PlayStation 4 console.

In terms of Virtual Commerce, the team from camif.fr created an interesting example of virtual reality. They recreated a showroom where users could visit and add products to cart.

Augmented Reality & Virtual Commerce

Augmented Reality is different from Virtual Reality and a simple example would be Pokemon Go. You can use your mobile phone to change reality by adding animations or objects. Another example is IKEA; they developed a very cool project, where, through an application, you can place one of their furniture products in the middle of your room.
Now you can avoid buying a sofa and then return it because you do not like it, or it doesn’t fit the room’s layout. Good job IKEA. :)

Virtual Commerce – a combo between E-commerce, Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

Imagine you want to buy a car. In a normal day, you would manage to see 4 or 5 models, right? How about staying home and seeing 30-40 models? In half the time! Wouldn’t that be great for time efficiency?

Virtual Commerce is trending right now and by the looks of it, it will be adopted by plenty of companies in the near future. Businesses niched on tourism, fashion, furniture, and cosmetics will probably be some of the early adopters, since you have a lot of space to innovate and create compelling apps within these industries. Nonetheless, at this point, a strong downside is the financial aspect of developing a V-Commerce app.

It seems that consumers are ready for Virtual Commerce!

Looking at the other side of things, consumers are always attracted by innovation and most probably will be up-and-ready to dive into what V-commerce will provide.

To this respect, anticipating the need of consuming V-commerce, retail studies show the following key aspects:

  • 66% of buyers were interested in the concept of virtual shopping. (Walker Sands’ Future of Retail Study)
  • 53% of respondents would be more likely to buy from a brand which used VR (Westfield Study)
  • 33% said they would be interested in using it to virtually try on clothes without having to go to the store.

“In the world of v-commerce, the experience is fully customized to highlight the brand’s assets. What’s more, it provides companies large and small with a way to strengthen the relationship with existing customers and reach new ones anywhere in the world.” – Dan Slobin, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley

Taking into account the current reality, innovation is happening as we speak in every field, from medicine to retail and eCommerce. Every company out there is investing huge amounts of money and resources in finding new ways to connect with their audiences and meet their needs, hence, we reckon we will be hearing more and more about V-Commerce in the next few years.
Sure, at this point, V-Commerce is still in the early adoption phase, and on top of that, VR devices are still rather pricey, but hey, this is happening and depending on how fast we’ll embrace it, we will be able to enjoy the competitive advantage that will come with it, as a result.

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