International Brands That Experimented with Virtual Stores

Virtual Store Shopping

It’s not simply about transferring inventory to the internet. E-commerce is a continuously evolving beast by its very nature, and those who wish to stay ahead of the game must have their finger on the pulse. Studies show that 77.24 per cent of customers abandon their shopping carts before making a purchase. This suggests that merchants must do a lot more to persuade shoppers to stick with their decision and buy things online.

Virtual reality is a new technology that could be able to help. It has the potential to revolutionise the world of retail, along with its sister technology, augmented reality, and customers feel that more should be invested in these technologies to guarantee that they play a greater part in their shopping experience. Live virtual shopping, which was once only an omnichannel experiment for a few forward-thinking businesses, is now experiencing increased demand.

Retailers may create virtual showrooms or virtual store fronts to offer a new degree of excitement to the online shopping experience. These platforms provide clients with a virtual experience that is as similar to going to a physical store as you can get without leaving your house.

Many businesses are attempting to capitalise on the “try before you buy” trend by allowing customers to envision how a product will appear before purchasing it. Rather than focusing just on virtual reality (a world created entirely by computers), technology firms are also exploring the worlds of augmented reality (AR). So, let’s take a look at some international brands that successfully experimented with virtual stores even before the pandemic hit, to give their customers a shopping experience that extends beyond the ordinary.

  1. IKEA

IKEA, a Swedish multinational, has previously released an augmented reality catalogue app that allows you to view how different pieces of furniture might appear in your house. Customers can visually see how these items will appear and, more importantly, how they will fit in their homes based on the product’s measurements.

  1. Havaianas

In the summer of 2019, Brazilian footwear brand Havaianas established a virtual storefront to drive sales for a day. Shoppers strolling past a bright artwork on the Venice Beach beachfront in Los Angeles found it was actually a virtual pop-up store. By snapping a photo of the designs that they liked, customers were redirected to a shoppable website with a curated style guide and different buying advice.

  1. Lego

Lego established a pop-up shop with a twist to advertise its new limited-edition apparel collection for adults: the store was completely empty. Shoppers in London’s Soho neighbourhood were greeted by a Snapchat QR code set up on a podium. After scanning the code with their phones, they were surrounded by a virtual shop in augmented reality. Customers were able to select from three different pieces of apparel — sweatshirts, hats, and t-shirts – and have them displayed on a Lego figure. The items were then sold using Snapchat’s integrated “Shop Now” feature, which directed users to a dedicated e-commerce page that featured the items on a real-life model and allowed them to select their size before completing the transaction.

While these brands managed to boost sales with a virtual set-up even before the pandemic, VR technology has since evolved in leaps and bounds. Virtual stores and virtual shopping have now become easier and more accessible.

Smartphone apps like Proxgy have emerged, which allow shoppers to visit affiliated stores and have a seamless shopping experience from under their very roof. Proxgy uses smart helmets equipped with state-of-the-art cameras that promise the user an immersive, in-depth retail experience in real-time and get as close as possible to a physical shopping experience.