Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is the future of e-commerce. There is no doubt that this trend will be going mainstream. After all, e-commerce itself has reached a two-decade milestone, so something significant is bound to happen organically.
While both of these technologies are still quite new and unpopular, startups have already raised $658 million in equity in 2015 and $2.3 billion in 2016. It’s projected that by 2020, the investments would total to $30 billion. Amazon, Alibaba, Google, and many other e-commerce giants have already participated as first movers. For instance, as an early player in VR e-commerce, Alibaba has launched Taobao VR shopping device.
In this article, we’ll discuss how VR shopping works, who the early adopters of this E-Commerce 3.0 are, and how you can ride this wave to maximize shopping experience.
VR and AR technologies allow retailers to reach people in an unprecedented manner. Customers can look at any product in 3D, try on fashion products, and test drive products without having to be on the premises.
The headset screen also shows the virtually simulated world that is linked to content information, such as ingredients in a food package, for instance. The users can control what to purchase and which information to be shown via a controller.
In addition to those e-commerce giants, early adopters of VR e-commerce shopping include Innisfree Cosmetics, Tommy Hilfiger, Rebecca Minkoff, Dior, Top Shop, and Carnival Cruise, which include cosmetics, fashion, and cruise businesses. Customers can literally walk and shop in a virtual world, where they can use their eyes, hands, and vocal commands to look for, shop, and pay for items.
Innisfree, however, includes the option to “ride a flying bike” to visit Jeju Island, which is the place where the raw materials of Innisfree products were planted. Gap Dressing Room, for instance, is another AR implementation that has proven to work today. Build Direct with its virtual 3D Design Center is also an example of how VR can look like in the future with or without the AR headset, controller, and overall technologies.
If you own an e-commerce store and would like to join the VR bandwagon right now, is it possible? Yes, definitely. You can join virtual malls with VR capabilities like The Virtual Mall and Virtway World. Shopper MX is another early player that provides a platform for VR shopping.
Whether you own a brick-and-mortar business or a solely online retailer, you can capitalize this VR and AR trend early on. The key is understanding what you truly want your customers to experience, establish a strong value proposition, and develop what problems you want the platform to solve.
Like Innisfree, you can use VR and AR for branding purposes by incorporating entertainment elements in the virtual world. Innisfree’s Flying Bike to Jeju Island, which can be enjoyed at its flagship store at Shanghai Disneyland, has been making a big splash in the marketing world. Thanks to VR.
In conclusion, you can ride the wave of VR and AR trend in four ways. First, you can invest in VR/AR technologies as an early investor. Second, you can incorporate VR e-commerce into your existing brick-and-mortar business or online retailer with various platforms. Third, you can use VR and AR for branding purposes by including entertaining elements. Fourth, you can creatively integrate VR and AR elements in a newly established business designed specifically with 3D virtual reality mode in mind.
About the Author
Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She works as a digital strategist for Oberlo and blogs at JenniferXue.com. Her works have been published in Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Business.com, Business2Community, Good Men Project, and many others.