Although only 1% of the retailers currently use AR/VR to improve their shopping experience, the technology has been terrifically reinventing online stores. As customers leverage new dimensions of shopping, businesses are making most of the immersive experience to boost their services and build upon better IT infrastructure to make in-store shopping experiences better.
Given customers’ changing preferences according to the new normal, the virtual shopping platforms are only expected to reach new horizons of popularity in the years to come. This makes it necessary for the retailers to brainstorm the right processes to implement virtual shopping platforms as a strategic part of their business plans.
To help out, here we are discussing some basics about the same, along with how you can implement a virtual shopping platform.
What is Virtual Shopping Platform?
Virtual shopping platforms upgrade your traditional online store to offer unique shopping experiences using AR/ VR technologies. These platforms pave the way for in-store experience without shoppers having to move from one place to another. It brings human connection to the eCommerce shopping experience allows businesses to covert more and deliver the right products and services to the shoppers.
Why Do You Need to Build a Virtual Shopping Store?
There are multiple ways in which a virtual shopping store can deliver value to your retail store. Let’s check out some of them with the right numbers proving their effectiveness.
1. Virtual Stores are Trending and Give You Competitive Edge
Retailers across the globe are turning to virtual shopping stores in order to boost their business value. IDC Report states that AR/ VR technology is inviting great commercial investments from retail sectors, expected to reach $7.3 billion by 2024. 4.
Apparently, the retail stores that are still far from adopting virtual stores will gradually lag in the competitive arena.
2. Customer Preferences Highlight Virtual Stores
It has been studied that 61% of the customers prefer the online shopping stores that bring cutting-edge AR experiences alive.
Innovation combined with changing customer preferences makes it difficult for traditional retailers to thrive. It not only limits the opportunity for these retailers but also causes their businesses to shut down ultimately. By combining best business ethics with advanced solutions such as virtual stores, retailers can tap into the pool of opportunities.
3. Boost Your Revenue
40% of the consumers would spend more on products that can be customized in AR (Theerkit, 2020). Not only this, it has been proven that virtual change rooms can help retailers improve conversion rates by more than 6.4%, increase order value by 1.6%, reduce fulfillment costs by 5%, and lower returns by 5.2%.
This is a no-brainer. If you can offer the right shopping experience to your customers, they are more likely to shop from you. Moreover, there are higher chances they would look upon your website anytime they need the products you offer. AR enables just this for you.
4. Attract Loyal Customers
Customer loyalty is essential for businesses to thrive. It is believed that most of the revenue is not driven by the new customers but the ones who come back to you. AR can help ensure you that. ZDNet’s study proves that 70% of the retail consumers would be more loyal to the online stores that offer an AR experience.
5. Ensure Relevance to the Industry Trends
No wonder technology is a fluid trend, and to stay relevant, you must take a dynamic approach that helps you stand out from the customers. While these trends come, create impact, and leave, AR/ VR is here to stay. Pymnts.com’s study establishes that VR will revolutionize how customers shop. It also states that implementing virtual stores will eliminate the home try-on effect by 25% in the apparel industry alone.
6. Build a Comprehensive Selling Approach
With 1000s of pages on the retail website, it is challenging to tailor your strategy to specific pages that may be underperforming. However, you can garner vital details of such pages and implement AR specially tailored to those pages with the right insights and analytics. It has been found that product pages that offer AR and 3D experiences drove a 13% increase in average order size and a growth of 21% in revenue per visit.
7. Build Brand Reputation
It is impossible to drive business growth without building brand awareness. AR has been proven in this aspect. A striking example is the cosmetics brand. We Make Up, which, upon creating an AR filter on Facebook, witnesses a spike of 53% in the clickthrough rate, a 28-point rise in sales, and a 7.9-point increase in brand awareness.
8. To Stay Relevant, Even in POST-COVID Arena
Undoubtedly, the world will never be the same as it was before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. This division of world history has drastically affected how shoppers shop, bringing a shift in how organizations carry out their businesses. Technology, however, was and remained to be the driver of this worldwide disruption. An example is AR/ VR experiences. At the height of COVID-19, the retailers who used AR to drive customer experiences experienced a 19% increase in customer engagement along with a 90% boost in customer conversion.
How Does the Virtual Shopping Store Work?
As stated already, virtual shopping stores bring an in-store shopping experience to your fingertips. Customers can experience the shopping from their homes, just like how they would shop from a store. There are several ways that businesses can implement virtual shopping stores, regardless of the industry they serve. Here is how virtual shopping stores work in implementation:
What are Various Ways You Can Implement Virtual Shopping Experience?
There are multiple ways to implement a virtual shopping experience for your retail store. Here we have highlighted some of them for you.
1. 3D Product Rendering Platforms
3D product rendering software leverages user-created 3D models and places them in a 3D environment or images. Retail stores can leverage these 3D product rendering to display the product details in front of the consumers. 3D product rendering platforms allow for an interactive shopping experience and offer the following added benefits:
- Attract more customers and convert them
- Display products clearly
- It makes it easier to demonstrate the product in multiple forms
- Shoppers can visualize products in their environment
2. Virtual Stores and Showrooms
Digital showrooms or virtual showrooms allow for seamless engagement between the shoppers and online platforms. Offering an excellent replacement for the physical stores, brands can create and organize their products with pictures and details in a few clicks. Some retailers also implement 3D virtual samples, which help customers interact with the store in a much better way.
Virtual stores and showrooms make way for:
- Plan products and collects within the store
- Create a custom 3D environment to display your showroom better
- Gather customer data and analyze it to strategize better
- Engage with customers and offer them an immersive customer experience
- Plan showroom space and optimize its utilization
- Leverage sales stand and customize them
3. 3D Interior Design Platform
Your customers are highly obsessed with their new homes. You can take their excitement to the next level by giving them an immersive shopping experience as they design their home. Architects and property owners can use 3D interior design platforms. These solutions use 3D product rendering to recreate realistic layouts as well as customize the shade and lighting for more authenticity. Some of the unique benefits of 3D interior design platforms include:
- Allure clients with virtual walkthroughs
- Offers a better way to sell furniture
- Enable engaging product page experience
- Build interactive product configurator for tradeshows
- Catalogs with 3-D visualizations
4. Multivendor Marketplace and Virtual Shopping Malls
Virtual shopping malls are online 3D shopping malls where shoppers can navigate virtually. They can walk into clothing stores, pharmacies, shoe shops, and more. It is very similar to video games; it is a new and fun way to shop in the malls.
- Offer an innovative in-store shopping experience.
- Plan and research for marketing better
- Leverage competitive advantage
- Keep up with the demands of modern customers
5. AR-based Mobile App Development for In-store Shopping Experience
Build an interactive AR mobile application for your retail store to connect with your customers better and engage them. The mobile-based shopping experience offers customers a seamless way to connect with the stores, regardless of where they are or what platform they prefer. Here is how AR-based mobile apps drive value to your retail business:
- Enable faster decision-making with virtualization
- Offer unique customer experience
- Build great brand reputation
- Give a real-world experience to the customers
- Boost sales and revenue
- Attract and retain customers while improving loyalty
6. AR-based Product Simulators, Testing, and Try-on Platforms
Such platforms provide a new definition to the “try-before-you-buy” strategy. Using this, customers can try the product comprehensively before making purchase decisions. These software solutions can offer desired product manipulations right from their couch. All they have to do is- download the app and choose the product to try virtually. Key advantages of AR-based product simulators, testing, and try-on platforms include:
- Provide personalized shopping experience
- Increase sales and customer lifetime value
- Leverage cross-sale opportunities
- Reduced returns
How to Build a Virtual Shopping Platform?
Step 1: Outline Your Goals
Before making any strategic decision, you must clearly understand what you want to achieve and what challenges you want to address. While there could be multiple benefits of a virtual shopping platform, it is crucial to consider if it is the right fit for your objectives. Try answering these questions:
- Is your business profitable? How will virtual shopping integration impact this?
- Do your customers have a preference for virtual shopping?
- How many sales are you able to convert each month?
- Among the lost conversions, what portion could be made better with virtual shopping?
- What is the customer loyalty index?
Based on this, you need to define the objectives of virtual shopping platform integration clearly. For instance, you can define the sales and conversion you want to bring each month using this new investment. Apart from this, it is also vital to determine KPIs and how you will measure them?
Step 2: Consider the Preferences of Your Target Audience
Unless you make something that your audience will love, no investment is worth it. Conduct a detailed analysis of your target audience and highlight the aspects such as:
- Likes and dislikes
- Favorite products/ stores/ websites
- Preference in terms of technology
- Drivers of purchasing decisions
Step 3: Choose the Technology Stack
Your technology consultants would help you make an intelligent choice for the same. Standard technology stack to build AR/VR-based retail solutions include:
- AR: ARToolkit, Google ARCore, Apple ARKit, VUFORIA, Kudan, Max, Deeper, Wikitude
- VR: Unity 3D, Unreal Engine, Cry Engine, Blender, LIBGDX, AppGameKit VR, Tilt Brush, Google Sketch Up
- Objective C
- Core Data
Native app development technologies
- Android toolkit
- Android SDK
- Objective C
Cross-platform app development technologies
- React native
- And more.
Step 4: Finalize the Team Structure
Once you have decided to implement a virtual shopping platform, you would need an virtual platform development team who would include:
- Business analysts
- Project managers
- AR/ VR developers
- Quality analysts
- Digital marketing expert
Step 5: Virtual Shopping Platform Development (Implementation of Important Features)
This is where our team will implement all the functionality. These would majorly include features such as:
- Push Notifications to notify users about important updates
- Geolocation features not just to know the location of the buyer but also to send personalized updates to the shopper for offers, products, and messages that users can avail.
- Shopping cart for the shoppers to add all the required products and pay at once.
- Wishlist for users to shortlist the desired products.
- Payment options integration to allow shoppers to pay using their most preferred method.
- Social integration to receive and distribute user-generated content such as feedback and reviews.
- Review and ratings for shoppers to leave feedback for products they have purchased.
- Advanced search options to enable quick product search
- Analytics to gain vital insights into the shopper’s preferences.
This is in addition to the AR/VR integration and forms a part of MVP. While these features can be increased beyond, it is wise to decide based on your objectives.
Ready to Set Your Foot Forward in Virtual Shopping Platform Development
Matellio can be your expert virtual shopping platform development partner. Having decades of experience along with the right team, we help businesses reimagine their processes for the future. Our clientele covers startups as well as Fortune 500 brands from diverse industry verticals and global locations. Some of the attributes that make us unique include:
- Agile Development Process
- Quality-centric Approach
- Need-based Scaling
- 25% Less Time-to-market
- Cost-effective, Tailor-made Solutions
- Comprehensive expertise
To begin right away, book a free consultation with our experts in a few clicks.
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