A Future Lookout:
VR and The Real World shape E-commerce Experiences

Brought to you by Sarah Schmidt, CEO at VSLB Inc. 

Metaverse Image

2021 comes slowly to an end and the world is more than ever going through a transformation. Virtual Reality is on the rise, and not just on a level where we’ll be looking at a screen to interact with each other. No, I mean the Virtual World, where people live, meet up, shop and play. A Space where Retail blends VR and the real world. With the trending topic of the metaverse and being the founder of a Virtual Reality Company, I am intrigued where meta will take retail. In this article, I want to share my outlook, where the virtual blends with the physical in retail and e-commerce. Before we dive into the way the future will look, here’s a brief review of what happened in the last year: 

 

  1. The NFT market (Digital Token) to claim and verify ownership of digital goods hit an impressive market value of $7 billion.

  2. The Fashion Industry entering in the NFT space and selling digital pieces of fashion 

  3. Facebook changed name to Meta and announced Horizon World, Horizon in development. Meta is creating a family of apps and providing immersive experiences through VR and AR powered platforms. 

  4. A handful of Virtual Human Influencers have made it into the fashion industry.

Human Psychology and the Virtual World

Tell me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you always on the lookout for happiness and prosperity? This says a lot about the human psyche. Imagine a world where everything is possible. No physical boundaries exist, you can choose who you want to be, where you want to be, and what you want to do. 3D has made this possible. It allows people to experience this satisfaction through 3D generated video games, earn points, level up, dress their gaming character and get rewarded by winning levels. Human psychology is wired to grow and evolve. It is the nature of evolution. That being said, the Virtual world delivers this satisfaction through non-physical limitations. That is why the Virtual world and the metaverse is so attractive. It satisfies people’s self actualization and allows unlimited creative expression. There is also a sense of anonymity to it and for some this makes it even more attractive.

The Future of Retail

Understanding human psychology brings new innovation opportunities for retail in the virtual world. The Retail sectors, especially within the Fashion and Beauty industry, have already explored gamification to immerse their customers and deliver holistic experiences. Virtual shopping will no longer be on a normal e-commerce site. E-commerce will be transformed into 3D Virtual Spaces. You’ll soon be able to shop any product through a virtual shopping mall with your own Digital Avatar and leveraging the power of AR. 

Premium Fashion, Cosmetics and Home Appliances:

This year, major brands have learned to tap into a completely new consumer segment: the gaming industry. This experience gained from platforms like Zepeto can further transform to amazing virtual shopping solutions.

Imagine you enter a Virtual Retail Shop, either with your digital avatar or through your own point of view via a mobile web app. You’ll be able to fully explore the product in a crafted and branded virtual retail experience. The space  will be further tailored to the target audience and will allow full flexibility for brands to innovate their services around a specific target market, audience and demographics. Once navigating through such virtual space, consumers will be guided to checkpoints, get consultations through virtual customer touch points and checkout to unlock shipping right to their doorstep. This will further be enhanced through AR technologies for jewelry, make-up and skincare, fashion items and home decor and appliances. Once a product is selected, it can be tried out through AR, and customers can get make-up looks, skin care consultations and home appliances delivered right at their homes. 

How will your brand integrate Avatars and Virtual Humans? Brand owned or existing digital influencers will most likely be part of the e-commerce shopping experience. Our own virtual humans can embark the shopping journey and goods will be purchased digitally, while physically being shipped to the customers. A couple of companies are developing AI chatbots and deep fake technologies for avatars to communicate across multiple channels and act as customer service point. 

Platforms like Zepeto unlock major opportunities for consumers currently navigating the game, but brands managing to offer an innovative e-commerce experience will win the game. 

The challenge I’m currently seeing is that virtual experiences lack the visual and artistic quality. Several games which have been created for major brands so far use a more fictional outline and gaming-like experience. But where virtual reality will ultimately win the game is when brands manage to combine market tailored virtual spaces, gaming, VR and e-commerce all in one.  Hence, E-commerce will be an immersive customer journey with multi-integrated technology enhanced through gaming features and AR/AI technology.

How immersive e-commerce will be created:

With several platforms developing virtual retail, there will be a demand for virtual architects who can design and construct a virtual experience for brands. Like a real architect, the experience will include appropriate tone and manner, locations for virtual humans to interact with a clerk, infographics and visuals highlighting product USPs and more. The virtual store will be paired with a dematerialized VR experience brought right onto our screens. E-commerce will ultimately be fully immersive. UX and UI, 3D Production, Gaming engines and Virtual Architects will come together to create our future experiences.

My Final Marks on the Topic

I’m already imagining a quite extended experience in the virtual world. For many of the tech companies such as Meta, Zepeto, Roblox, Unreal and Apple, the question remains: which platform will ultimately be the one to capture various industries at the same time? Meta currently has most users around the world through Facebook and Instagram, owns much of their data and can guide them into Horizon World, Home and more. Other platforms like Zepeto are gaming features and focus on fashion and cosmetics, securing more funding to advance the retail experience further, but own only a part of users compared to Meta. One thing is for sure: brand owned e-commerce sites as we know them today will need to shift their experiences to a more interactive and immersive solution for future customers. 

Several industries and brands are navigating to a digital future with the hope to create more sustainable services. It is yet to be determined whether the purchases of NFT and overall digital footprint will be the more sustainable solution. In addition, how will our data be protected? What will the implications be concerning the use of Data and AI to establish highly customized solutions and experiences in retail? For the consumers, the digital future will mean more exposure to targeted ads, customized services and visual experiences with AR. 

One more reason to create visual experiences that inspire and add value. As an advocate of virtual space, it is the ultimate tool for brands to access innovation, enhanced processes and artistry. I am excited to share that VSLB, that in 2022 will be shifting our craftsmanship to artistic VR commerce experiences for Retail and further advancing visual content solutions through a digital catalogue of virtual spaces

I’d love to exchange with you and hear your thoughts on the metaverse. Are you ready for the shift?

Contact me at [email protected]

Cheers, 

Sarah Schmidt  CEO at VSLB Inc.