Is 2017 the Year for Virtual Reality Shopping?

|08th Dec 2016

While 2016 might have been the year to catch ‘em all, the next 12 months could prove to be the time to buy ‘em all. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) took off all over the globe this year, with fully grown adults everywhere running around like headless chickens, desperate to capture and train imaginary animals with Pokémon GO.

However, the great strides being made in both the VR and AR worlds don’t just hold far-reaching implications for gaming. The world of commerce is fast cottoning onto the limitless possibilities offered by this new technology, as consumers potentially have the option to try before they buy without ever leaving the comfort of their own homes.

What is AR?

Pretty much everyone is familiar with the concept of VR, but AR hasn’t received quite so many headlines, even with the skyrocketing popularity of games like Pokémon GO. Basically, the difference here lies in merging our world with a virtual one, rather than ditching the former for the latter altogether.

Whereas VR transports the user to a completely imaginary world bearing no relation to their actual immediate surroundings, AR combines the two to impose images onto a real environment. Therefore, the technology complements reality to bring a more integrated experience.

Together, both VR and AR are being recognised for their enormous commercial potential by big brands, who are seeking to overcome the biggest traditional barrier to online sales conversion – the ability to view, wear and try on products before making a purchase.

VR and AR in the Shopping Sphere

Research has shown that even the most successful websites and search engines enjoy a sales conversion rate of no more than 5% of all customers who land on their pages.

Compare that to the generally accepted figure of around 25% conversion in bricks-and-mortar shops, and it’s easy to see that the ability to try out a product in person still weighs heavily in a potential customer’s mind.

These two new technologies are revolutionising all of that. Already in 2015, companies like Cimagine were bringing AR technology to the mainstream market by allowing customers to visualise how furniture might look in their home. Elsewhere, BuildDirect allow homeowners to design their dream bathroom by incorporating dimensions and existing fixtures into their blueprints, making for a more accurate sketch of the finished product.

As for clothing, jewellery and accessories, Apple pioneered the idea of trying on a virtual watch in 2015 and though the app has since been recalled, other industries are fast getting in on the act. Perhaps most impressively of all, Microsoft’s HoloLens has the ability to superimpose 3D images over the real world, fully immersing the user in the experience. The product is still in its infancy and at present is mostly used in an industrial or medical setting, but the possibilities with regards to commerce are all too graspable.

With these tricks in its back pocket, 2017 could be the year to avoid the stampede at the checkout next Christmas and conduct all of your seasonal shopping from home, safe in the knowledge that your new purchases will look as great in the flesh as they do online.

Maximise your online sales in 2017

At Fluid Digital, our services are geared towards helping B2C and B2B retailers increase sales online. To find out how our Magento Ecommerce and Pay Per Click services can transform your business next year, get in touch with our digital experts.

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