Virtual reality is already a multi-million-dollar market, and by 2020, it's slated to expand to around $38 billion. The technology has come a long way - created and otherwise tossed aside in the 1980s and 90s, VR has seen a resurgence in the smartphone era with consumers drawn to the ability to play interactive games and virtually travel the world. However, now, they're starting to realize that virtual reality can have real-life applications, too. eCommerce is the biggest and best example to date.
Online shopping has revolutionized the consumer experience. You no longer have to get in your car, drive to the store, hear a sales pitch or dig through piles of clothing to get what you want. With a few simple clicks, you can shop and have a product delivered right to your door. But while eCommerce essentially turned brick and mortar on its head, it still hasn't totally solved a key element that a number of consumers still desire, and can resolve in physical stores - to be able to visualize a product on them or see how it looks in practical application.
That's where virtual reality comes in. Today, eCommerce retailers are jumping on board to bring their products right into the consumer's hands with VR technology. It's the best of both worlds - shopping in the comfort of your own home with the added value of getting to see the size and shape of a product in 'real life.'
Imagine trying on a shirt and a pair of shoes at home, or checking out the dashboard of a brand new car, even taking it for a test drive on the open road. Companies like Converse, Audi and even Ikea are leveraging this technology to bring their products into consumers' homes so they can try them out. It's the ultimate new marketing tool to appeal to consumers because it satisfies both their need for convenience and longing for the familiarity of a real shopping experience.
While this technology is still in the early stages, consumers seem to be on board. 66% of consumers are interested in using VR to make a purchase, and another 22% surveyed by Walker Sands said they'd be less likely to visit a brick-and-mortar store if VR was introduced.
And the technology has major implications beyond the consumer. For example, just think about how many fewer returns an eCommerce clothing store might have if they offered VR. Or consider the kind of brand loyalty that VR technology can create by guiding the consumer to the best product without pushy sales people or other annoying aspects of a brick-and-mortar shop.
So will vCommerce eliminate the need for brick-and-mortar stores all together? Well, probably not. However, it does create a major opportunity for companies and brands who adopt the technology. Are you ready to learn more about where the technology is headed, how brands are leveraging it, and what consumers think?