As you might be aware, virtual reality shopping is well on its way to being commonplace. Alibaba, eBay, Ikea, Wayfair, even the hypercar manufacturer Pagani are all dabbling with the usage of VR headsets to help sell products. But this is all well and good for large companies who have the budget to trial such projects, but what about small and medium-sized online businesses who are unsure of whether VR will catch on?
To begin with, there is seemingly nothing wrong with simply selling from your website like we’ve known for the last decade. It’s easy, efficient, and for anyone who has ever gone through the procedure of e-commerce hosting, most would know that the choosing a software package and getting your shop online is generally all it takes to get started. What’s more, e-commerce in the US alone is expanding at an incredible rate so it’s with understandable trepidation that any e-business owner would want to take a risk with the addition of VR. Of course, there’s no doubt that VR shopping is still in its infancy and there are many creases to iron out, but there are several reasons as to why an online business could one day integrate virtual reality into their future plans. Good example could be ASOS, who recently teamed up with Trillenium.
Firstly, customers can see a 3D image of your product. When buying something online, there is still a small amount of uncertainty while you wait for the item – no matter how many pictures you look at or product descriptions you read. If it’s furniture, there might be some worry about how it might fit in a room or how it will appear with other current items. Yet with VR, shoppers will be able to see exactly what the product will look like in their own living room. Likewise, there will naturally come a time when we can see how clothing will look on our bodies before we’ve even worn it. No doubt a huge factor in reducing returned items from unhappy customers.
It’s good to keep in mind that a product isn’t the only thing you’ll be able to see in virtual reality. It’s also possible to give virtual tours when your online business has VR capabilities. Perhaps you’ve started an online scooter rental service, you then have the opportunity to present not only what it feels like to ride a scooter, but also what you could see and hear in any given city. In fact, car manufacturer Volvo have already produced virtual test drives for one of their upcoming vehicles.
For tourism and accommodation too, VR could be incredibly beneficial to potential customers. Whether you’re a company that provides quaint little cabins in the woods, or a business that serves walking tours of any place across the world, simply giving a virtual taste of what’s on offer is a unique way for an online business to stand out. Aurora Expeditions, for example, recently published a 360-degree video of a typical Antarctic excursion, which allows the viewer to spin the camera around as they see fit, and more or less feel (thankfully not the freezing cold) what any participant may experience on the trip.
Any online business wanting to dabble with virtual reality should understand that the technology is still in a somewhat experimental phase – at least in terms of purchasing online – but hey, taking risks is what being a business owner is all about right?