Trends of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) in the eCommerce

Despite the fact that the Augmented and Virtual Reality technology (AR/ VR) originated about 1960s, only now the world has grown into it. And the release of the Pokemon Go game could be considered as the main turning point.

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) in eCommerce opens great opportunities for buyers and sellers in interaction with products and brands.

When using virtual reality (VR) you do not need to go to the store, all you need is to put on a headset and begin choosing products from the store sitting on your couch. At the same time, you do not need a bulky shopping trolley, you do not need a mouse or buttons — your gaze or voice commands the software whether to take you from one shelf with the goods to another, or to stop and find a more detailed description a product which attracted your attention, with its demonstration.

Augmented and virtual reality (AR / VR) technology can be used both at the store and beyond to assist customers in finding the right products or services for them.

The augmented reality (AR) technology — not hand drawn but very real, which the software adds an additional layer of information to real-time, using the real world, user location data and information about the actual world objects.

You only need to point the smartphone camera at an object, say, a dress which a girl is wearing, and the application recognizes it and the buyer will immediately receive information about the stores where the same dress costs the cheapest, can compare the characteristics of products and find out about the delivery, as well as to create a route to the store.

AR/ VR may change the entire world and e-commerce will not be an exception, i.e., we shall consume any information in a new way — including shopping.

Investments in AR/ VR

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/ VR) is close to the record in terms of venture capital transactions. Since the beginning of 2016 1.3 bln. US dollars was invested in more than 76 transactions.

A massive investment glut this year, may be attributed to the company Magic Leap which raised in February 2016 a significant investment of $ 793 million.

vCommerce (virtual commerce)

Development of augmented and virtual reality (AR/ VR) is especially noticeable in games and entertainment.

But let’s look at what happens in trade and e-commerce using the already operable solutions as an example:
  • In May 2016 eBay jointly with Myer (Australia) launched the VR store. 
    The virtual store works using the headsets — you put it on and can start the shopping. Using your gaze or voice you may browse categories of products, open the required product description, add a product to cart for payment.
  • Alibaba also announced that they are working on creating the Virtual and Augmented Reality services for e-commerce. In July 2016 at the press conference in Shanghai the representative of Alibaba in Vive headset from Taiwan branch of HTC demonstrated how the buyer may take a virtual tour around the three-dimensional digital store. It is planned that these virtual shops shall be equipped with the “Robot- consultant which will talk to the buyers and recommend these or those products”. The customers themselves will be able to “rotate the products to look at them from the various sides using the Vive controllers, and as well as ask a model to demonstrate how one or other product may work, or, for example, how clothes you have selected will look on You”. VR technology is an excellent way to demonstrate the products or services, especially for such categories as furniture and tourist services. Alibaba also is trying to reduce the cost of 3D modeling for the future.
  • Major brands such as, Dior, Topshop and others already use AR/ VR in advertising creating WOW Effect for their companies.

It is worth noting that as of today AR/ VR are not commonly used among buyers of goods and services. According to Google only 5 million Google Cardboards (costs about $ 20) were sold at the beginning of 2016.

What is the future of augmented and virtual reality?

Volume of augmented and virtual reality markets in 2020

Data Source: Digi-Capital

• According to the forecasts of Digi- Capital by 2020 the volume of Augmented Reality (AR) market should amount to $ 120 billion, where the electronic commerce shall take up to 30%.

• AR/ VR in the short run shall not be able to fully replace the e-commerce with vCommerce (virtual commerce) but it will be a more efficient tool for sales in the future. Now the AR/ VR will work in parallel with the existing sales channels instead of replacing them all at once.

• The largest e-commerce players shall become the trend-setters in shopping via virtual and augmented reality with all the resources to promote this idea to the mass consumers.

• One may talk about a new application market (AR/ VR) for the commerce, allowing for interaction with the products and services which was not the case before.

• It is expected that by the end of 2018 the number of users of augmented and virtual reality will reach 200 million globally.

• Even now, the world start-up community is working on creating the shopping technology for AR/ VR (computer vision, machine learning, massive data, AR/ VR content, AR/ VR in real time, AR/ VR rooms and much more).

The chances are that by 2020 the online retailers will support this fresh trend, that’s why the actual or potential owners of e-commerce sites should think about it today.

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