How Virtual Reality Will Shape eCommerce in the Next 10 Years

Still doubting the future of Virtual Reality? You’re not alone. Mainstream journalists, tech reporters, and analysts have yet to endorse the future of VR.

 

The gaming industry has predicted the demise of VR, pointing out examples of doom from way back – Nintendo’s Virtual Boy – to calling out modern VR products like Oculus for being “far from perfect.”

 

Looking for more? Download our handpicked List of the Coolest Uses of VR in eCommerce!

 

Despite the naysayers, high-profile tech players and brands continue to push forward and collect data that will enable VR to transform the eCommerce industry, and smart eCommerce retailers are watching and waiting until the time is right.

 

  • NextVR The NBA is now broadcasting live games in virtual reality in partnership with NextVR. eSports are big business, and NextVR is leading the way with virtual live streaming of March Madness, post-game NFL experiences, Notre Dame football games, and more. VR for the 2024 Olympic Games? It’s a real possibility.
  • Sony PSVR Although the PSVR didn’t knock sales out of the park upon release, Sony isn’t finished yet, recently surpassing 1 million sales of the VR headset. Right now, Sony is using the platform to learn more about customer needs and wants. In a recent Verge article, Sony revealed they are looking to expand the platform beyond a gaming system.
  • Oculus VR – Acquired by Facebook in early 2014, Zuckerberg admits that immersive gaming is just the tip of the iceberg. He envisions a future where “augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.”
  • HTC Vive X  – Gives startups access to VR expertise, technology, mentorships, and go-to-market support.
  • Google Daydream – Wayfair launched a virtual reality application, IdeaSpace, to enable Daydream users to design spaces with furniture and decor.
  • Google Cardboard – An affordable introduction to the VR experience, advancements in this technology will be a game changes in bringing VR to the masses.
  • Samsung Gear VR – Clothing retailers and automotive showrooms are diving into VR with the Samsung Gear VR headset.

 

High-profile tech players collect data that will enable VR to transform the eCommerce industry Click To Tweet

 

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How is Virtual Reality relevant to eCommerce? Isn’t it just a gaming thing?

 

The history of eCommerce leaders and the focus on user experience to drive customer engagement is leading us toward a natural evolution of eCommerce and VR. A quick look at the history of Amazon tells you the eCommerce industry has shifted and grooved with digital transformation in ways that no one ever imagined.

 

Amazon launched in 1995 as a bookseller. By 2004, it was at the top of Internet Retailer’s annual top 400 list. While using technology to collect information about people and their buying habits, Bezos openly admitted, “We’re going to be unprofitable for a long time. And that’s our strategy.”

 

Digital wallets have turned a common smartphone into an instant payment processor. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, give customers access to fast and secure one-click checkouts.

 

Brands are already using interactive experiences to sell more, and gamification for customer engagement is helping brands capitalize on customer loyalty and increased conversions. The groundwork for the intersection of VR and eCommerce is complete; now it’s time to perfect the technology and the strategy.

 

Looking for more? Download our List of the Coolest Uses of VR in eCommerce!

 

High-profile retailers already see returns from gamification.

 

  • PINK Nation incorporates games like scavenger hunts, scratch offs, and trace to reveal games to drive engagement and sales.
  • HSN Spin to Win gives users an arcade-like experience, bringing potential customers back again and again to engage with the brand.
  • Covet Fashion users play a fashion game to compete for a combination of real and virtual prizes. A shop online link gives players access to the real deal, offering one-click options to turn a virtual item into a real product hanging in their closet.

 

VR: The Next Logical Step

 

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Buzzwords like IoT, big data, and data analytics are grabbing all of the headlines; but only gamification and interactive experiences give brands the opportunity to collect and utilize data to drive business objectives and sales within a branded entertainment experience.

 

eCommerce VR Get Started Guide

 

Virtual Reality – Sales, Predictions, and eCommerce Strategy

 

Brick and mortar stores are blazing the trail in the use of VR and retail sales. They clearly have an advantage, as they can provide the device and equipment necessary to deliver an exciting VR experience and draw customers in.

 

Brick and mortar stores are blazing the trail in the use of VR and retail sales. Click To Tweet

 

For 2016, it was predicted that the Samsung Gear VR would be the top selling VR device. Venture Beat reports that 4.5 million Gear VRs were sold in 2016, followed by the Sony PSVR.

 

These statistics are important, because the Samsung Gear VR is a headset specifically designed for mobile devices, as are Google Cardboard and Google Daydream. The slow start numbers explain the lack of journalist confidence in the future of VR, but forecasts based on actual sales show a climate for healthy growth and potential for the integration of smartphone virtual reality with the eCommerce industry.

 

Eventually, consumer demand will drive technology improvements, more affordable VR devices, and brands won’t have any other choice but to meet consumers where they are. (Sounds a bit like smart phone technology, good-day flip phone!)

 

Still doubtful? Retailers are already pioneering the technology, and reporters and industry enthusiasts are sure to build case study data and reports to help move the VR eCommerce relationship forward.

 

  • Holoroom – Lowes in-store VR uses Oculus headsets that give customers design visualization right in the store.
  • ShelfZone – Home Depot’s VR gives buyers access to a store space to compare products and prices.
  • IKEA – IKEA announced their kitchen VR experience launch in early 2016, using an HTC Vive headset, enabling consumers to explore kitchen styles. IKEA Australia just launched their first VR store, enhancing the shopping experience for a loyal customer base.
  • WorldPay is working on a VR payment experience that enables users to pay with a virtual version of their credit card.
  • AppSwarm acquired www.intothevrworld.com, announcing that developing virtual reality products and platforms is front and center as part of their growth strategy.

 

Established, trusted companies are making virtual reality news every day. They already have a customer base to draw from; the perfect target for virtual reality experiences.

 

Looking for more? Download our List of the Coolest Uses of VR in eCommerce!

 

Brands with a large base of loyal customers will be able to tap into this technology first, eventually winning over new customers to VR after they have come to know and trust a brand by touching and feeling in-store products.

 

This shift will begin in eCommerce sectors like fashion and beauty, eventually proving to be a game changer in high-value sectors like electronics and home improvement.

 

Virtual Reality’s future is bright. Your brand can begin experimenting with interactive experiences today, ensuring that you’re ready to dive into VR when the timing is right.

 

Khuram Zaman

Khuram Zaman is the CEO of Fifth Tribe, a leading digital agency serving the Washington DC Metropolitan Area based out of the 1776 Startup Accelerator. Upon graduating from Widener University School of Law in Delaware, he went on to work in the non-profit sector where he raised almost a million dollars online for various charitable causes involving donors and volunteers from over 80 countries. In his professional capacity, he has provided digital marketing services to clients as diverse as the Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force, Aetna Innovation Health, Kaiser Permanente, Silatech, Oxfam, and The Hult Prize. His writing has been featured in Entrepreneur.com, Business2Community, and Forbes.