Virtual reality and augmented reality are not just the technologies of tomorrow; they are today’s immersive sales and marketing tools. 71% of consumers stated they would shop more often if a brand used these innovative mixed-extended realities. With that being said, it’s no surprise that more and more businesses are adopting these technologies, making them an integral part of their e-commerce strategy.
According to statistics, 52% of retailers say they are prepared to integrate AR into their marketing system. The growth of AR and VR is exponential, with various brands already reporting a 40% higher conversion rate since using these.
How are retailers using VR/AR successfully?
A recent example involving luxury fashion house Burberry and Harrods are promoting the brand’s new Olympia bag is a detailed case study showing how much VR can push the limits of creativity. Along with Emperia, they put together a virtual display, giving the audience a bespoke shopping experience with a VIP feel. Customers can shop freely, notwithstanding the COVID pandemic’s limitations and lack of access to physical stores. Users spent an average of 15 minutes inside the virtual experience and utilized the opportunity to book 1-1 virtual appointments.
However, this is not the only retailer that has used VR/AR. Large retailers such as Swedish furniture masters, IKEA, launched their AR app named ‘IKEA Place’ to resolve practical challenges circling furniture shopping. The augmented reality app allows customers to use their mobile devices to see how the furniture will fit into their homes without purchasing it. Just like trying on clothes, people can now try on furniture in their personal space. It’s no wonder that 39% of consumers use AR during their consideration phase when purchasing a product.
Some of the numerous ways to adopt VR/AR to sell products
Businesses demand have discovered many innovative approaches to expedite their products and increase sales figures in all sectors. For example, car retailers have upped their game by adopting an AR tool that allows viewers to examine cars in several colours and finishes. Gaming companies have mixed VR and fashion retail, presenting an exceptional experience that attracts fashion and gaming fans alike.
Getting away from the old, static e-commerce layout, companies are now upping their technology game, aligning user experience with their corporate targets, may it be improved brand recognition, higher sales conversion, or a cut from the competition.
Luxury brand Dior created new filters for social media apps Snapchat and Instagram. Users can try on the different lipsticks from the beauty range, allowing them to share the result while subconsciously promoting the product. It’s that easy. Filters go viral in moments, providing brands with the possibility to cross-promote their collections with vision and creativity.
Creating digital worlds where customers can visit a retail store from the comfort of their own home, at any time of the day, which includes try-on features that allow customers to try on garments using AR efficiently or a direct video chat with a personal shopper, from within the virtual store, could transform the online shopping experience, revolutionize gallery visiting the way people buy online and granting brands new access to untapped demographics.
Art galleries return with a bang
Amid COVID restrictions, art galleries found new and innovative ways to hold up a gallery visit. This time, digitally.
Virtual reality has let galleries create, replicate and design a virtual gallery with even more perks than their own physical spaces. This has been an excellent chance for art collectors and visitors to observe their favourite artists and paintings with ease, spend more time examining art pieces and avoiding crowds in times where social distancing has become an existential requirement.
The technology wave may have protected art galleries and exhibitions from falling during the pandemic, but it didn’t end there.
VR has become the new normal for art gallery leaders. For example, Snap Galleries worked alongside Emperia to create a virtual replica of their own physical space. Still, this time they were able to entice visitors from hundreds of miles away. Snap Galleries saw an excellent opportunity to promote their new art gallery featuring works by Roger Sargent of the famous British band, The Libertines. This drew in plenty of attention and provided an exclusive peak of limited edition works to audiences far beyond the gallery’s physical reach.
In what ways does VR/AR marketing truly help?
VR/AR has kept brands and businesses alive during challenging times. Still, they have a long-lasting effect on the world of retail – they extended the physical presence of stores into the virtual world, a phenomenon still being observed. So far, in 2021, statistics saw 2.14 billion online shoppers worldwide. 55.4% of those were using mobile devices to shop. When putting it in perspective, it only fits to follow where the crowd leads.
The Sustainability Factor
Younger shoppers are drowned less to the famous logo and more to the brand values. Sustainability has played a significant role in shoppers’ decision-making process, with this environmentally-conscious generation is interested in everything related to animal cruelty and production practices. Technology such as VR fitting rooms allows one to on outfits from their home, reducing unnecessary returns saving unnecessary trips to the store. 3D technology now enables fashion brands to create virtual samples, which are easy to share and eliminate unnecessary waste of materials. And consumers are taking a note.
Brand loyalty and gaining customers
It’s no surprise that consumers trust businesses that deliver a more personal and memorable experience. Mixed/extended reality provides brands with a new opportunity in the shape of deeper access into customer data and their shopping behaviour, allowing them to personalize the shopping experience completely, ultimately targeting what suits them, where, and when.
Advertisements can now be accurately served based on consumers’ movements and actions within a brand’s virtual space, customized to the customer’s individual needs. Now that marketers have a grip on this technology, it should be no surprise that shoppers are demanding such advanced practices from their brands.
Retailers have always adapted storytelling as a form of marketing. This time, VR has led the way and ultimately told the story for them while balancing revenue targets with a brand tale.
The ways brands can now create a virtual experience that resonates with the brand values are extraordinary yet straightforward in a customer’s eyes. Brand storytelling has grown increasingly innovative, with technology visualizing the background, enticing to engage with the brand and spend more time within its e-commerce space.
It doesn’t leave room for personal interpretation and provides an immersive experience that tells a much bigger story than the product alone. The story can highlight particular features of a business, like what values it holds or provide an added value, in the form of a how-to movie or a video chat with a personal shopper.
Cyberdog, a London-based rave-clothing designer selling rave and party clothing and accessories, is an excellent example of a brand that understands its target audience and caters to them in a way that attracts them not only to buy but to stick around for the experience it provides. Its Camden-based flagship store is vibrant, often featuring the world’s leading DJ’s and provides an authentic party-like atmosphere. Extending this experience to those who cannot make it to the store, Cyberdog has recently launched a new, immersive online store that duplicates this same experience, granting online users access to the unique world of raving.
The days of static, look-alike e-commerce websites are gone. VR and AR technologies have introduced brands and retailers to a whole new world that aims to sell and aims to please. Consumers are demanding a unique shopping experience that doesn’t resemble the physical store but instead expands it into what is often impossible in the real world; it is now branded’ turn to up their efforts and meet the new shopper in its natural habitat- the virtual space.
Read Caitln Bailey’s Insights on “How Emperia Uses VR to Market Art and Luxury Fashion Brands During COVID” here.