Now it’s my turn to write an article about Virtual Reality. That new concept everyone is so excited about is making me curious. I see it everywhere, in stores, on social media, on TV, and even at the office: the other day, my colleague gave me a virtual reality cardboard headset. I was so excited to try it on. And yes, within a few seconds, I found myself on a rollercoaster, upside down in the air. It reminded me of a project I was working on last year, on IKEA and its virtual reality app. The latter allows customers to visualise the furniture in its context before buying it. Personally, I believe it’s a great idea to play with fun apps, but especially for the e-business industry. A lot of people do not feel confident buying on the Internet before seeing the product in their living room, in their kitchen, or even on themselves. And this applies to a lot of industries such as cosmetics, clothing and home furniture. In this article, I would like to touch on several things. First, explain what virtual reality really is, and then explain how it affects e-Commerce.
About Virtual Reality
“Simulation of reality” is an obvious answer to “What is virtual reality?” . In more technical terms, it is a three dimensional computer generated reality. This “made up” reality can be explored by the human brain. This new reality is fully-immersive and believable ! Wherever users look, they will be in that “virtual” world. They feel they are there mentally and physically. Users can even interact with this new environment they put themselves in, manipulate objects and perform actions.
There are several ways to plunge into this virtual world: from cardboard to more sophisticated gears. You can also use your smartphone. Anyways, the main idea is to have a display splitting the feed for each eye. And between your two eyes, there is a lens. Its role is to focus and reshape the 2D image, to give you a stereoscopic 3D image.
Virtual reality in e-commerce
E-businesses are always looking for new ways to engage with online shoppers. It can take customers on a quick trip behind the scenes of their favorite fashion show, to a makeup session, or a test drive in their favorite sports car.
Rebecca Minkoff used this technology to present her Fall 2015 collection. Thanks to virtual reality gears, users could attend the fashion show.
A lot of us have heard or even tried the Ikea augmented reality app that allows shoppers to try a piece of furniture in their living room, kitchen or bedroom.
M&S also succumbed to this fun innovation. They replaced their traditional showroom with a virtual reality experience, where a virtual assistant helps and guides customers in their choice. The latter could also share their home design on social media to get their friends and family’s opinion ! And that last point is at the heart of the strategy.
So, do you think this virtual reality would help or destroy businesses’ omni-channel strategy? Would it help customers’ level of confidence in online purchases? Let’s wait and see…
Mia is a web marketing consultant. She works on content creation, digital transformation and innovation missions.
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