From virtual boutique stores to experiential online grocery shopping, here's how AR/VR could shape experiential online shopping.
While there is endless chatter about experiential shopping in-store, there is often a curious silence when it comes to experiential shopping online.
The discrepancy isn’t surprising — retailers see in-store experiences as a way to differentiate brick-and-mortar retail from the expediency of e-commerce.
But does this mean that e-commerce has to only to be about speed? Some players are trying to leverage augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to challenge that question.
Virtual boutique stores
Earlier this month, immersive shopping startup Obsess launched a virtual shopping mall that brings a new format to online shopping — allowing customers to shop online sans search bar via explorable virtual boutique stores.
The virtual stores, created in CGI, cater to a variety of sectors including beauty, fitness, travel, wellness, and more. Customers can browse the stores via their mobile phone, view 3D renderings on products, and access AR versions to visualize them in a real-world setting.
In an interview with Vogue, Obsess founder Neha Singh stated that the rise of 5G will enable “the Obsess experience to become even more interactive, photorealistic, and faster to load.”
Experiential beauty e-commerce goes to China
Other players looking to explore experiential e-commerce have recognized the ultimate importance of mobile as well.
Earlier this summer, L’Oréal’s Armani Beauty announced that it will be the first beauty brand to incorporate augmented reality (AR) into its WeChat application.
Through AR technology from L’Oréal’s ModiFace, Chinese consumers will now be able to virtually try on lipsticks, eyeshadow, and other products from Armani Beauty’s cosmetics line using their mobile phones, as well as take screenshots, save photos, and share images to social media.
Experiential online grocery shopping?
Believe it or not, major retailers are also exploring the idea of turning online grocery shopping into a full sensory experience via VR.
Walmart published a pair of patents in August 2018 that describe a system for virtual-reality shopping at home.
The patents illustrate a virtual reality headset paired with sensor-laden gloves that would allow consumers to interact with a Walmart store in a virtual world.
Going forward, if retailers and brands want to leverage AR and VR to improve the e-commerce experience, they will have to imagine strong use-cases (i.e. make-up application, fitting furniture to a room, offering virtual discoverability) that fundamentally add value to the consumer experience.