Transformation of E-commerce
Virtual and Augmented Reality (or VR and AR, respectively) are among the newest technological crazes. They find application far and wide, and you can find them in many forms, and on many different platforms. From mobile apps and stores to desktop software, and on various game consoles, they seem to be popping up just about everywhere. Slowly, but surely they are transforming our use of technological devices. They have found a massive application in the gaming industry, but nowadays they seem to be expanding to other areas too. Used in simulations to teach new pilots how to fly, they have also found an increase of usage in modern medicine and education. Another area in which they are emerging is, believe it or not, the e-commerce industry. Are you ready for VR and AR games in e-commerce?
Virtual & Augmented Reality
We cannot go any further without at least trying to explain both VR and AR, in layman’s terms.
Virtual reality (VR) is a term usually used to describe the computer technologies which are trying not just to simulate, but also to create a replica of the real environment. VR developers develop a specific software to generate external, real-world stimuli that adheres to our senses. They use the software to generate images and sounds (and soon even touch, and smell) to build an imaginary setting or replicate a real location.
Augmented reality (AR), in contrast to VR, doesn’t create a new world nor does it try to simulate any other locations, but in fact, it enhances or demotes our perception of the current reality. AR uses a live direct or indirect view of the real-world environment to supplement (or as its name suggests, to augment) what you are seeing by generating sensory inputs such as video and sound.
One of the things they both have in common is that they have a basis in our physical world. While both are primarily used to fulfil a fantasy of ours in a gaming world, be it as a knight or an aspiring pirate, they can be used even to enhance mundane tasks. Imagine one day doing your chores with a headset on displaying an augmented version of your room, but every chore is transformed into a game. Every washed dish would net you points, and before you know it, you would be competing with your friends in a game while doing the laundry. We can dream.
New mobile apps will allow you to see how a new piece of furniture would fit in your room. All you’ll need to have is a smartphone with a camera. Imagine redecorating your room from the comforts of your sofa instead of doing the tedious journey all the way to IKEA.
So you finally bought that apartment that you have always wanted. Everything is perfect. It is spacious, and in a desirable location, with no noise pollution. You have begun nesting. A table here, a chair there, a wardrobe on the right, a nightstand on the left and so on. Still, it is not a home yet. You still lack many things. Panic is setting in. What if your new furniture won’t fit together nicely?
Now picture this. You sit down on that one chair you’ve placed earlier. Rummaging through your backpack, you finally get out your new VR headset. You plug it in your smartphone and turn on your new furniture app.
Virtual and Augmented Reality Games in E-commerce
Expert analysts are predicting the value of VR and AR to hit $150bn by 2020. Once the price of VR devices drops, the market will only be on a steady increase. The wider it gets, the more important will it be to integrate it in your web stores.
VR is more than just a show – it is a highly engaging narrative. As more and more VR devices find their way to the market, and as more people enjoy having a high-powered display smartphone in their possession, the more VR and AR will become mainstream. Forward-thinking brands have recognised this, and are playing it to their advantage. Sharing interactive stories with their customers puts a heavy strain on their sensors which causes a blockade of all other distractions, such as apps, TV, and other websites.
Using neuroscience, firms YuMe and Nielsen found that VR had a 27% higher emotional engagement that any other 2D environment, and a 17% higher emotional engagement than even a 360-degree flat screen video. VR viewers were also longer engaged due to the lower number of external distractions. In fact, 34% longer than when they were viewing the same content, but on a different platform.
As an early adopter of VR, travel agencies already had the time to their fair share of studies. VR could potentially lead to a decrease in returns. Some agencies use VR to show off possible travel destinations, hotel rooms, nightlife and so forth. Even through game design. Virtual reality is already driving the revolution of the e-commerce sector, and as seen in the travel sector, it could prove very convenient for other industries too. Marketing with VR and AR games in e-commerce could lead to an increase of desirable travel locations.
With over 50 million installations in just a month, Pokémon GO has shown that Augmented Reality is not to be taken lightly. If you are in the gaming industry, this would be the time to ride the tides of Pokémon GO.
Even if you aren’t a game developer, the applications of AR are many. Just take a look at this early demo of the augmented reality startup Magic Leap.
Gamification in E-commerce:
Over 81% of adults between the ages of 18-29 consider themselves to be gamers. According to Wikipedia, gamification is the use of game mechanics and thinking in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems to increase users’ self-contributions. E-commerce has adopted this approach to revolutionise the way they market products. Games are interactive, engaging, and most of all fun. Put two and two together, and you get interactive and fun marketing campaigns. Well, what are you waiting for? Maybe this is the right way to market your product.
Two decades ago, Amazon took a big share of its market from Walmart when they adopted the internet approach. Same thing could happen with AR & VR if more brands let it slide right under their noses.
To Sum Up
While Augmented and Virtual Reality are just starting to shake things up, no one can force you to wait. Early adopters of these new technologies will have a massive head start over those who’ve decided to ignore it. We at Gauss Development are doing our part of the research, trying to find new innovative ways to contribute to the ever-growing e-commerce industry to satisfy the evolving customer. VR, AR, all of these are new toys waiting to be put into next year’s marketing campaigns.
No one has to wait. Prepare for the future. While Virtual and Augmented Reality are all the rage now, they have not fully yet developed, but that should not stop anyone from preparations.
As always, you can share with us your ideas on how to market products via VR and AR in the comment section beneath.