When we hear the term virtual, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is something that happens online. A virtual world means being in a computer-simulated environment, similar to the world we will live in. Although this is not real (nothing can be physically felt), our minds believe it is a reality. Most of us have heard this term when talking about video games and virtual reality, but did you know that there are virtual stores as well?
That’s exactly what we will be talking about in this article, as virtual stores are no more a thing of the future and there are many stores out there already, be it virtual supermarkets, virtual retail stores, or even virtual malls for that matter. These kinds of stores are taking the internet by storm, adapting to the current pandemic, as lesser people go on to visit the store physically. Knowing how these stores function will be helpful, and for that, you have come to the right place, as we will be dealing with what a virtual store is, and how such a store works.
Basically, viewing any store (that you would normally visit physically) online, in the comfort of your home, is a virtual store. Some people confuse this with online shopping, and they think that it is the same thing. It is not the case, because online shopping only involves buying goods from a website. However, while virtual shopping, you get the feeling of actually being inside the store, thanks to advanced technologies like AR and VR being used. You can buy products and check out as usual just like in online shopping, the difference being you actually felt like going into a store and bought something.
This type of shopping is more fun and quicker, rather than going all the way to the store and spending hours trying to find out what you want, only to find out that there’s a long queue at the billing counter. To avoid this problem and also because of the prevailing pandemic, many people are switching to virtual shopping, It’s just easier compared to visiting physical stores.
How do they work?
Virtual stores are normally set up for brands across a wide range of industries and there are lots of ways and strategies that brands use to implement them.
One of the major advantages that virtual stores have over conventional shopping methods is that the customer has a chance to visualize the product before purchasing it and this gives a lot of satisfaction to the customer.
There are three main ways that companies choose to use virtual shopping. We shall discuss them below one by one:
- Virtual Reality stores
VR is the most popularly used tech in this Gen Z world. Although you would need a VR headset and a controller to make it possible, it is worth it. Who wouldn’t want to experience another world? So, when coming to virtual shopping, in particular, brands can enable the customers to take on an immersive experience by portraying the store of the customer’s choice, so that they feel like they are surrounded by things that would be there in a real store.
But what if you don’t have VR equipment? That brings us to the next point.
- Using Augmented Reality
AR is another widely known term and it became popular because of Pokemon Go! We have seen how AR can be used for playing games, but how would you get a store into your house? Brands let the customer visualize their product, by checking out how it looks or fits in with the real-life surrounding. This can be inside your home or even outside in your backyard. These AR-enabled applications scan both the customer and the surroundings to virtually augment the product in front of them into the environment. You need to move your device a bit, for the application to properly scan the environment. By doing so, the customer can see the product’s life-like resemblance.
- 3D virtual stores
This strategy is starting to become popular as it doesn’t involve any extra accessories and there’s no need to move around. All you need is your laptop or your phone. It involves a well-designed website where the entire space is created with 3D elements and objects. These stores allow the customer to navigate freely around the store like they would in real life. Customers can avail of certain on-screen navigators to browse various products inside of the store and they can then buy them after they are satisfied.
That brings us to the end of the article, and we hope you have gotten an understanding of what virtual stores are and how they work. Feel free to explore these stores and go do some virtual shopping of your own!