Chapter 3:
Virtual Reality (VR) in eCommerce

Virtual reality provides one of the main tools for 3D eCommerce. Here’s a rundown of the essentials you need to know about VR eCommerce applications. Let’s take a look at how VR works, how it drives sales and how to implement it for eCommerce.

How VR eCommerce Works

Virtual reality works by using multiple images to simulate the way your two eyes perceive 3D objects. You have two eyes, which is why you’re able to see objects from multiple angles, creating the perception of three dimensions. However, 2D images only present a flat surface, failing to fully replicate this 3D effect.

3D technology restores this experience by presenting two or more images to the eye simultaneously. This can be done by using a VR headset with two lenses, each displaying a separate image, or by displaying images on multiple screens in a physical room.

To further approximate three-dimensional experience, VR can incorporate other sensory modalities. Sensors which track head movements can coordinate shifts in your gaze with adjustments to your visual environment, replicating the experience of turning your head to look in the physical world. Sound effects such as binaural beats or surround sound integrate hearing into the 3D experience. Haptic technology such as gloves and boots can even simulate experiences such as grabbing objects and walking.

VR can be applied to eCommerce in a number of major ways, including:

  • Making marketing more engaging: VR allows you to create ads and content which engage audiences and encourage clicks
  • Providing virtual previews of your inventory: VR lets you provide customers with an immersive experience of your product and service line
  • Delivering three-dimensional views of your product line: VR enables customers to inspect products from multiple angles for a more complete and realistic product trial experience
  • Product personalization: VR can allow customers to preview and select product specs, enabling greater customization
  • Customer support: VR can be used to enhance product support tools such as tutorials and FAQ guides

These are just a few examples. VR can be incorporated anywhere in your operations where a more three-dimensional experience would enhance your customers’ experience and achieve your business goals.

How VR Drives eCommerce Sales

VR drives sales by promoting higher customer engagement, more persuasive sales presentations and better post-sales experiences. A study by ad platform OmniVirt found that VR photos generated a click-through rate 300% better than regular photos and video completion rates 46% higher than regular videos. This higher engagement increases disposition to buy, promoting higher conversion rates. Using VR to engage customers in the post-sales experience can further promote higher customer retention and repeat business.

How to Implement VR eCommerce

You can follow these steps to implement VR into your eCommerce process:

  1. Designate a VR adoption team leader to coordinate your efforts
  2. Establish a VR adoption budget
  3. Review your production, marketing and sales procedures and identify places where it might make sense to implement VR, such as content creation, digital advertising or product descriptions
  4. Set goals for your VR implementation
  5. Establish KPIs to set benchmarks and track progress
  6. Develop strategies to achieve your goals
  7. Select appropriate technology solutions
  8. Create required 3D models
  9. Track your results
  10. Make ongoing adjustments to optimize your performance

Success in putting these steps into practice will depend heavily on getting support from key decision-makers and strategists. Make sure to get buy-in from key personnel such as chief marketing officers, chief financial officers and chief technology officers. If you lack in-house technical expertise, seek an outside consultant for best results.