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The future of retail - V-Commerce

Updated: Apr 8

Most people will be familiar with E-Commerce and buy and sell goods using the internet but not all  will know what v-commerce is or virtual commerce (VR). V-commerce simply refers to the buying and selling of goods  with the help of virtual and augmented reality technology (recharge, 2021). This includes augmented reality (AR) which is an enhanced version of the physical world made with the use of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology (Hayes,2020). 

The market for AR and VR in retail is predicted to reach 1.6 billion by 2025 and 63% of shoppers say these technologies would change the way they shop (Frank, 2021). Due to an increased use of technology and the introduction of restrictions  throughout the pandemic, people are increasingly using VR and in different ways.  With consumers wanting unique experiences, and the increased use of technology and online selling  due to the pandemic, businesses need to innovate to keep consumers happy,  is v-commerce the future?   

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Surprisingly, 78% of shoppers abandon their carts before completing a purchase but VR and AR could be able to change this for businesses as consumers are given the opportunity to experience the product in different ways, instead of just reading the product description, the customer gets to experience the product remotely providing a try before you buy novelty. This should not only help conversion rates but also reduce returns for businesses and help them overcome physical virtual limitations.   

VR is something that Ikea have ventured into,  allowing customers to upload personal photos onto their virtual reality app,  which lets them  see what the furniture would look like in their room before they buy, with a 98% precision rate. This gives buyers the chance to get a feel for the pattern, texture and lighting in a room before purchase, adding the customer journey and experience  (Frank, 2021).   

However, it does not mean that the traditional  brick and mortar shopfronts will disappear,  but that VR can be integrated into store experiences. With  consumers shopping online more recently, it’s important to give them a reason to come into the store and not see shopping as a chore. This is where VR comes into play, letting customers engage with a brand in a new way.  For example, Lexus uses VR to let customers test drive cars without even leaving the showroom, creating excitement around the product  (Frank, 2021). BT Sport also ventured into the world of VR by creating an in-store experience promoting its content in EE’s biggest London retail stores. They captured a Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal live in VR so that fans could “enjoy experiencing all the highs and lows of a football match via virtual reality”, according to Jamie Hindhaugh, COO of BT Sport, attracting fans of both teams to the store (Samsung, 2021).   

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Retailers can also use VR and AR to  create virtual versions of their physical  which can be continuously modified to meet changing consumer tastes and product preferences. VR allows consumers to  see  products in context while  the retailer is able to offer something unique and different to the consumer which they are always looking for as well as building excitement around the business. 

Wholesalers can also use this technology to create virtual showrooms for buyers to view products regardless of location and time. A company using VR to create virtual environments is BrandLab 360 who use CGI and 3D rendering techniques to replicate a business's current physical showroom or build a brand-new bespoke brand experience. A live video function is integrated so sales reps can show digitally walk buyers around the showroom and communicate with buyers remotely.   

V-commerce is a way for business to entre the metaverse and with the increased use of technology and the fun and excitement of VR, could virtual commerce be the future? Let us know below what you think.   

Sources:  

Recharge, 2021: https://rechargepayments.com/glossary/v-commerce/  

Hayes,2020: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/augmented-reality.asp   

Frank, 2021: https://explorerresearch.com/v-commerce-and-the-future-of-retail/   

Samsung, 2021: https://www.samsung.com/uk/business/vr-for-business-solutions/how-vr-is-changing-the-face-of-retail/  

  

  

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