In a fast-changing world, innovation remains the best defense. To keep up with the increasingly sophisticated expectations and rising consumer demands, tech-savvy eCommerce brands foray into the VR space to create brand new offerings and reinvigorate customer experiences.

Virtual reality in eCommerce, indeed, can bring multiple benefits — from increased engagement to higher conversions to better retention rates. However, to seize the first-mover advantage and unlock the potential of VR solutions, a lot needs to be taken into consideration. Here are the essential components of a successful VR strategy.

Decide on the right VR use case

Virtual reality is a versatile technology and can be applied in a range of different ways. 3D showrooms, VR tours, virtual design studios, and more — there is no shortage of examples of how progressive eCommerce brands are shifting to virtual reality shopping.

But what works for a fashion online retailer may not work for a toys manufacturer or a hardware chain. So, before giving your business a VR makeover, carefully examine existing options from the perspective of your company specifics, target demographics, and audience preferences. The options of implementing VR in eCommerce include but not limited to:

  • Virtual stores
  • VR showrooms
  • VR fitting rooms
  • 3D in-store tours
  • 360-degree videos
  • VR apps and games
  • And even VR test drives
VR in eCommerce: How to Create Winning Virtual Shopping Experiences

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Create interactive VR content

Content is king, and for virtual reality it is as true as ever. It’s one thing to introduce the technology into your business, but to make it stick and bring tangible results for you is a different story. And if not supported with highly engaging and compelling content, VR will soon be pushed to the back burner to collect dust.

Creating top-notch content for VR solutions does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. The most important thing is to put your audience first and make users the protagonists in their own VR experiences. By giving viewers an active role, you immediately pique their curiosity and engage them more effectively. Other components of winning VR content include:

  • Strong storytelling
    Most memorable VR experiences are always based on a worthy story, character- or plot-based, that unfolds around the protagonist. Make sure that the content flow remains logical and consistent throughout the entire story.
  • High-quality video
    Just like with any video platform, issues like latency, resolution, bitrate need to be carefully considered to deliver superior QoE for end-users. To avoid cyber sickness, it is recommended to encode VR video to 60 fps for smooth and fluid motion.
  • Convincing sound
    Truly immersive VR needs equally compelling audio to make users’ experiences as real-life as possible. 3D sound enables audiences to perceive things in a completely natural way and massively improves immersion. Best practices also include accurate audio spatialization as well as audio and video synchronization.

Ensure ease of payments

Payments can easily make or break a buying experience for your customers, no matter where they shop. In VR settings, a checkout process is particularly challenging as asking buyers to leave their virtual world and use traditional payment methods can hardly constitute a smooth experience.

To solve this problem, forward-thinking online merchants are launching in-VR payments that enable users to pay right in their virtual reality shopping environment. One such example is Alibaba’s VR Pay that lets shoppers purchase goods through VR devices simply with a nod of a head. Payscout, a merchant processor, launched a VR Commerce app for Google Cardboard that features Visa Checkout built into its menu.

Alibaba’s VR Pay system

Protect customer data

To immerse a user in a virtual world, VR technology leverages eye tracking, gesture recognition, iris scans, voiceprints, and other personal characteristics. This massive amount of biometric data is connected to personal financial information, geo-location data, creating a perfect privacy storm.

Designed to ensure better control over personal data, GDPR requires to implement privacy by design and by default meaning that data protection needs to be baked in from the start. For VR providers, it means using technical measures like pseudonymisation and data minimization to guarantee that only strictly necessary data is processed in each case.

Data security cannot be overlooked too as customers share their financial information and need to be sure it is properly safeguarded. Like with any connected technology, standard security measures must be applied — data encryption, network security, regular firmware updates, integration with trusted third-party providers, and more.

The bottom line

VR technology continues to evolve, daily amassing new use cases. In eCommerce, the future tech is creating a new playing field that brims with opportunities for retailers and excitement for consumers. According to IDC, retail is among the top commercial industries to spend 1.5$ billion on augmented and virtual reality in 2020.

A lot goes into planning a first-class virtual reality shopping experience. To unlock the power of VR, a carefully crafted strategy is needed that would allow you to seamlessly weave the tech into the fabric of your eCommerce business. Start with identifying the right use case and move towards implementing it while focused on producing high-quality VR content, ensuring seamless checkouts, and guaranteeing data security.