Shopping from home in an online virtual reality shop setting may seem to be pretty far off in the future. Consumers wearing headsets while standing in their living rooms virtually trying on products is certainly a funny thing to think about. However, a 2015 Reinventing Retail survey conducted by media relations company Walker Sands suggests that this concept isn’t far from becoming a reality.
One of the most important statistics gleaned from the survey states that more than one-third of consumers (35 percent) said that they would shop more online if they were able to try products on virtually. On top of that, 66 percent of respondents said they would be interested in virtual shopping.
While the creation of an entire virtual store that mimics a brick-and-mortar store might not be feasible for a small online business, creating a unique online shopping experience online most certainly is.
Take a cue from some of these pioneering businesses to make your online business stand out:
1. Warby Parker
This online eyewear retailer has recently expanded into brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country. However, this doesn’t mean it has let its online presence slip. Customers can select up to five pairs of glasses to have shipped to their homes for free so they can try them on and decide in the comfort of their own home. Warby Parker’s mobile application lets the customers know if a sold-out frame they like is in stock again. Also, every purchase of eyewear includes a charitable donation to a non-profit, which adds to the customer experience.
(Source: U Got Entrepreneurs)
2. IKEA Europe
In 2014, IKEA launched an augmented reality application to go along with its catalog. The app uses the camera function on mobile devices to turn the customer’s home into the showroom. Shoppers can see how a specific piece of furniture would look in their room, gauging to see how it would fit and if it would match the style of the décor.
(Source: Business Insider)
A clever mix of fun and utility, ShoeDazzle has its shoppers take a quiz to determine their style. It then uses those results to give their shoppers shoe and accessory recommendations. This gives customers the feeling that they are receiving handpicked products just for them, almost like a store clerk helping them in a physical store (but without all of the off-putting pressure to buy, buy, buy!).
4. Fiat Europe
Car shopping is something that you might not think can be done over the Internet, but Fiat Europe wants to prove you wrong. The car dealer has been using a live video stream to take its customers to an online showroom. Online visitors can see the car through the eyes of the sales assistant (wearing Google Glass or using an Android smartphone). Although most people wouldn’t be comfortable purchasing a car without seeing it in person, this unique experience leads to some customers scheduling test drives.
(Source: Automotive IT News)
5. CVS Pharmacy
Users of the CVS Pharmacy iPad application can view a virtual mock-up of the store where they can access pharmacy services and the photo center, as well as browse different aisles for products they need. Users of the application can also write out a digital shopping list (complete with deals based on the products they buy most) that can be used in the physical store. The list will also tell shoppers what aisle each product is located for an easier shopping experience!
The common thread in all of these examples is a customized online shopping experience. As virtual reality continues to find its place in ecommerce, small online businesses will need to consider unique ways to engage with customers.
How can your online business implement some of these strategies to generate more sales and happier customers?
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