Shopping for Christmas presents this year will be different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that might not entirely be a bad thing. Instead of braving heavy traffic and long lines, shoppers can buy gifts from the comfort of their home in virtual reality.
VR can make Christmas shopping less stressful and a whole lot safer, especially amid the global health crisis.
What Is Virtual Reality Shopping?
Virtual reality takes online shopping to a whole new level. Instead of browsing the product categories of retail websites, shoppers can explore virtual versions of brick-and-mortar stores. It tries to recreate in-store shopping experiences through 360-degree views of retail stores.
Take Dior for example. They made a virtual version of their store in Champs-Elysees, Paris. You can tour around the store, then zoom in on the products on the shelves. You can browse a wide range of products that they sell in the actual store, including perfumes, candles, and scarves.
If, say, you’re interested in perfume, you can click on a product you like. It will show pop-ups that will lead to their website, where you can learn more about it. From there, you can also make a purchase.
Even without a VR headset, shoppers can still take a look around from their smartphones, tablets, or PCs. It won’t, however, be as immersive.
Virtual Reality Shopping During the Pandemic
Many retailers have turned to virtual reality to enhance their customers’ shopping experience amid the pandemic. John Lewis, a high-end department store, launched a virtual Christmas shop this year. Like many other retailers, the company has been affected by the pandemic. By offering fun and innovative shopping experiences, the brand hoped to drive more sales, whether online or offline.
John Lewis’ virtual shop shows in-store footage of their flagship store in Oxford Street, Central London. They can browse a vast selection of decorations, festive table settings, and homeware pieces.
The virtual shop is merely for browsing. If consumers want to purchase something, they need to go back to the retailer’s online store to pay for it. They can also drop by the brick-and-mortar store. Since they already know what they want, they can drop by, pay for their items, and leave.
The K11 Guangzhou mall also launched a VR app through the WeChat Mini Program to help retailers during the pandemic. From the app, shoppers can explore the mall and buy from 46 stores. It took the VR shopping experience up a notch by providing guided experiences.
Instead of spending hours browsing the shelves to check the quality of the products, consumers can turn to VR. This can reduce long queue lines and wait times. Moreover, VR can be very helpful to retailers who are struggling during the pandemic. It enables them to provide value to consumers without compromising their safety.
Virtual Reality Shopping in a Post-Pandemic World
As we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, VR empowers businesses with new ways to thrive amid challenging conditions. Although it might take time for VR shopping to become widespread, it seems like we are headed in that direction.
Without a doubt, virtual reality has a place in a post-pandemic world.