What Is Virtual Shopping? How to Use VR in Retail Stores?

Do you want to know why everyone today is talking about virtual shopping?

The commerce world’s become all about building seamless experiences between eCommerce and retail. Brands today have the opportunity to close the gap between online and in-store shopping using virtual shopping technologies.

Why Should You Continue Reading This Article?

We’ve already mentioned the VR store technology before while discussing the difference between VR and AR and how to use them for online stores.

So, you might want to check that out first if you’re interested in the comparison to get the big picture. Today, we’re focusing on VR retail and its benefits for retail stores.

To be precise, we’ve stated the elements below 😉

  • What is virtual shopping?
  • What are the benefits of VR shopping?
  • How to upgrade to a virtual reality store

Let’s start right away!

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What Is Virtual Shopping?

If we inspected virtual shopping meaning, we’ll find that it is a newly emerged term that describes the unique shopping experience that is savored with VR technology. Virtual reality adds the missing piece to ordinary shopping experiences.

The ability to enjoy the in-store experience while still in your bedroom is a blessing that can only be found in a virtual retail store! Click To Tweet

Human connection can now be brought to the eCommerce experience, no more limiting your online purchasing decisions and more into having a holistic shopping experience between brick-and-mortar and online shopping.

That is what we call a seamless omnichannel experience in ExpandCart. 🌐

How to Bring Life to Your Brand Using VR?

A VR store is the recreation of a retail store, whether it’s online or physical, to provide the authenticity of physical retail stores for worldwide customers on every device. That’s where customers can walk around the store, browse and purchase products, and have a fully engaging experience with your brand from the comfort of their homes.

A Newcomer! | Virtual Reality Shopping Emerges

As brands and customers look to return to physical retail following COVID-19, the technology that allowed eCommerce to fill the void left by store closures will be critical in reviving that same brick-and-mortar retail. Shoppers in the United Kingdom, in particular, demand a “connected shopping” experience.

The pandemic has clearly affected the UK high street, but shoppers are eager to return, especially if the convenience of online purchasing is combined with the richness of in-store shopping. According to The Drum, in-store, 40% of UK buyers use their phones to hunt up more information about a product. In addition, the number of Gen X shoppers who think they would utilize augmented reality (AR) in shopping over the next five years has increased dramatically (by 80%).

Both augmented reality and virtual reality have reported a $12 billion market worth in 2020, which resulted in an AGR of 54% with an estimated $73 billion worth by 2024 — IDC

With the emergence of VR and AR (Augmented Reality) technologies, more and more virtual shopping examples are developing and upgrading to offering virtual experiences to their customers not only to eliminate the gap between online and physical stores but also to offer many of the advanced below options:

Virtual reality shopping:

A physical store offers an interesting and immersive shopping experience, while a virtual store offers an organized one.

Now put your hands together. A VR store lets you enjoy the experience of a physical one wherever you are. 🛍️

Holistic engaging experience:

Welcome the in-store shopping experience to a digitally packed life in a way that beats regular websites.

Introduce your brand to a whole new audience:

An increasing number of customers would love to try out the new technology and stop by your store rather than going out to a physical one.

Statistic 🔎

VR and AR were debated to be going mainstream in a survey. 37% of business owners believe in the upcoming 2-5 years, while 25% of them thought in just two years. 15% thought it takes less than 2 years for such technologies to take a mainstream route (Perkins Coie, 2020).

What Are the Benefits of VR Shopping?

The retail business is always changing, resulting in fresh and distinctive customer experiences. Businesses are using technology hybridizations to differentiate themselves and appeal to their customers in new ways. People are already doing their food shopping and browsing eCommerce websites on the internet. In the same way that the internet changed the world, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are poised to totally disrupt the shopping experience and market.

The market for augmented reality and virtual reality in retail is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2025, according to Goldman Sachs. According to statistics, two-thirds of internet users are interested in virtual reality, and 63 percent believe it will revolutionize the way people shop. In the retail industry, virtual reality is still in its infancy. However, the prospect of something fresh and novel is already tempting. It allows audiences to adhere to features of modernism in a technologically dominated society.

In the retail industry, virtual reality can be used to plan, create, investigate, and even improve the consumer experience. It has a number of advantages when it comes to appealing to customers’ desires and needs, especially when they’re always changing. In retail, virtual reality provides a competitive advantage by keeping up with current patterns and trends. It achieves all of this while also providing a pleasurable shopping experience.

Virtual retail can offer so many benefits to both businessmen and customers. Let’s get a detailed look at those benefits:

1. Improve Shopper Experience

So how could retailers leverage VR technology to improve the shoppers’ experience?

For some people, VR lets people shop in-store without having to deal with the boring sales stalk of “what can I get you?”

💡 Example 👌

An average car buyer has to visit 1.6 car stores. When The Economist asked about their car buying experience, many described it as boring.

But they can’t get rid of it since cars are complex, they’d need a walk of the features every time they’re thinking of purchasing a new car. So how can we relieve you of having to visit a lot of car shops and preserve your desired personal service?

Utilizing VR can remove that struggle by enabling virtual shopping experiences.

2. Trying on Products

AR and VR are both very beneficial to test and preview products before completing the purchase. Like a couch in your living room or a T-shirt in your skin color. Also, solving the challenge of poor light or overheated tiny fitting rooms in physical stores.

View how Timberland managed a virtual fitting room using a unique technology to allow people to try on clothes with hand gestures.

Other websites and Facebook apps can do the same for home users by utilizing built-in cameras and AR technologies.

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3. Measurable Conversions

Online stores implementing virtual reality and AR techniques are having monumental shifts in their conversion rates on very short notice. That being said, our AR and VR store integrations are getting even more improvements and we encourage every store owner to take part in the win.

One priceless feature of virtual browsing is the ability to real-time track customer sessions. Do you know what this means? It means you get the chance to offer specific recommendations to your customer while virtually accompanying him on his virtual store tour.

Customers are reported to stay 70% more in virtual reality stores. ⬅️

4. No More Shut Down Due to Lack of Staff

COVID-19 has taught us much. That’s actually how virtual shopping boomed right up at the rescue. Retailers are now able to keep selling and running the business no matter where they are. Whether working from home, store, or office, everything is working in full sync.

Virtual store owners have found a vital win-win situation, a virtual shop software that flows with ease while being able to provide tools and resources. Accordingly, their sales team can, in turn, give the best customer service during the lockdown.

In such a tough time, a company that was able to keep all of its staff and continue selling while the headquarters is shut down is considered a survivor. That’s something VR shopping is enabling you to do in times of crisis.

💡 Virtual Shopping Experience Example (Wallmart)

Virtual Shopping Successful Example

One great example of a successful virtual shopping platform is no doubt, the Ralph Lauren virtual store. Especially, after the COVID-19 pandemic and the shopping scene is totally changed. Ralph Lauren made use of such circumstances and they brought a virtual shopping mall right at your fingertips.

If the concept appeals to you and you’re itching to visit somewhere sunny, we’ll take you on a tour of the Ralph Lauren Beverly Hills Virtual Store to see what they have to offer. When you see the foyer, which is bordered by rustic garlands and large vases filled to the brim with bushels of red roses, you’ll realize how much you’ve been missing out on a genuinely stunning holiday display. You’d take your time admiring the decor—unhurried as you’d be by any foot traffic—before following the directional arrows on the floor to the chamber at the far end of the foyer to the left, where many mannequins lounged in comfortable knits and draped velvets.

Virtual shopping

When you scan the area for shopping-friendly items, you’ll notice a dot that, when clicked, reveals further information about the item you’re interested in. You can then shop for the item you want online and check out right away, or you can save it to your favorites and sort through it when you’re done with your virtual store visit. If you want to get one-on-one gift advice, you can send your favorite options to the store associate. You can get a 360-degree view of whichever room you’re looking at by clicking and dragging your pointer.

Also, an important feature to point out is that there is no closing time on the horizon. You can easily spend hours upon hours exploring every nook and cranny of this store. No crowds, no rush, but all the trappings of a top-notch in-person shopping experience—better still.

Once you finish, you can immediately visit the Ralph Lauren in Hong Kong, followed by Paris and three New York stores if you so chose.

Final Words

The future of retail is virtual. Walmart has surely proven that to us in this inspiring virtual shopping experience allowing us to relate to virtual retail stores in a more interactive humanly way.

In this article, we’ve introduced the new term VR shopping and illustrated how it came to be leading the future of the retail industry by emphasizing some of the endless benefits that virtual reality brings to the retail world.

However, an important question that might’ve slipped from most online store owners… are we ready for such technologies?

Are brands really updated with the fast-going improvements of digital technologies and are they able to adapt as fast as they can and provide such privileges to their customers?

I believe we are about to witness the shift together and by that I mean, a whole big change in the big retail brand names we were used to hearing for the past couple of years.

Don’t you agree?

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