20 years ago, our lives turned upside down with the introduction of E-Commerce. This revolution has changed the world. It gave us the freedom to buy goods and order services online from the comfort of our homes, it made shifting products worldwide an easy phenomenon, and raised the bar for huge Business opportunities. Anyone with a tech device and Internet connection could take advantage of this business.
What was before a revolution, is now a way of living, it has become an essential part of daily life that few of us can imagine getting without.
But apparently, the world is eager for a new change, a new revolution. Big companies are looking to reinvent the shopping experience and not only change the “Where” of consumer shopping but also the “How”.
Therefore, we are about to enter the next phase of Digital Commerce thanks to Artificial Intelligence and voice recognition Technology. The phase of V Commerce, also called Virtual commerce; the futuristic technology that submerges users in an interactive virtual world. This phenomenon has risen already in the gaming world, but as of now, it will be used to transform the retail sector.
VR will offer businesses the chance to rethink the way they engage with their customers, it will open new possibilities for interaction between them. And in the long run, it will become an important source of information for consumer behavior. How? Because whenever a consumer will engage in the virtual world created by the company, the data of how he acts, reacts, and interacts, will be tracked.
Here are some examples of Worldwide companies who joined the bandwagon!
Amazon with Alexa
Alexa is the new virtual assistant and a cloud-based voice service created by Amazon. Once installed and properly set up, you can ask it any question, such as “what is the weather today in France?” or assign it to perform different tasks like “Turn off the lighting” or “Put on some music”. And of course, it won’t work unless it’s integrated into Amazon products like Echo, fire TV, etc.
Alibaba with Buy+
Alibaba, the Chinese E-commerce pillar; decided to upgrade the E-Commerce shopping experience of its clients, by creating Buy+, the virtual reality shopping store. Instead of displaying products in a boring way on the website, Alibaba has created a virtual store where products are displayed. With China being the pilot country, this virtual store can be accessed by VR headsets or through a $0.15 cardboard frame for smartphones. Once the user connects the headsets or the cardboard frame to his smartphone, he can start wandering the aisles of the virtual shop, pick up items to examine them in 3D, and buy the product of his choice by just looking at it.
According to Alibaba, this new revolutionary experience tends to make the Online shopping experience less disconnected, and offers instead, to link consumers to a more natural shopping experience from the comfort of their homes.
McDonald’s with Happy Goggles
Launched and tested in Sweden as a first step, McDonald’s is taking advantage of the virtual world to market kids.
It’s emphasizing the evolution of the Happy Meal, by transforming it into virtual reality headsets once the kids are done with it. With this move, they are also creating their own virtual world, which will allow them in the future to benefit from this channel to market their own products, services, and events, to their direct audience: kids.
They are also playing it smart! Instead of promoting their kids’ meals in a direct way, there are marketing the fun benefit and the extra virtual experience that the kids will get after buying this meal. This, of course, will increase the brand’s notoriety among kids.
IKEA with The Virtual Showroom
Ikea and the first digital agency worldwide Demodern, set up an actual virtual store for shoppers so they can visualize different furniture combinations on the spot, without having to wait to go back home and unwrap their packs to truly become part of IKEA experience. The first launch took place in Australia.
Crafted in and composed of high-end, photorealistic 3D renderings, the application provides a captivating 360° stereoscopic interior decoration experience with brilliant product staging. A technology that will only push customers to buy more.
Taking everything into consideration, a few years from now, customers living a leading Digital life will be able to visit the virtual store, interact with the virtual sales assistants, and buy everything they need online. Even Marketing agencies have started to prepare themselves for virtual and interactive experiences to present it to their companies and clients. Thus, virtual will play a role in the marketing landscape for the near future.
Finally, VR technology is certain to continue to improve, by making experiences of the virtual world more aligned with the real world. That being said, the main questions remain: Till what point customers are ready for V Commerce? Will they prefer it over the real-world experience?