In recent years, fashion has become more and more focused on technology and making strides in virtual and augmented realities. The next logical step for retailers and fashion brands is to create exclusive virtual reality shops completely separate from the physical realities they parallel. It sounds like a fantasy, but the proof is before us that we are slowly creeping closer and closer to the reality of an all-encompassing, unique digital age.
The Foundations of Virtual Retail
The popularity of VR has spurred a great number of fashion retail brands to venture into providing virtual experiences for their customer base, often partnering with social media to deliver AR features to a wider audience and encourage engagement with their products.
This highlights how AR and VR are currently mostly used as enhancements to the physical world we inhabit, not two divorced realities but two inextricably linked, the physical flowing into the virtual and vice versa.
VR technology is developing rapidly, becoming more lifelike, more authentic, and delivering a smoother and sharper performance that draws the customer in with its profound level of immersion. The unwavering passion for creating better and better technology means that we are getting closer to fully virtual shops being a groundbreaking reality every day.
The Possibility of Shopping Becoming Fully Virtual
Shops existing purely in a virtual world feel like the stuff of dreams right now. However, it would be an essential progression for technology and fashion, providing customers with new and exciting experiences and opening the retail world to numerous possibilities.
Some companies like HERO are already revolutionizing the reality of shopping for their customers, looking forward to the future and bringing a new level of virtual immersion to users.
There are many different ways to create and visit a virtual shop. For example, 360-degree panoramic views have been implemented by a number of brands, allowing users to access a tour on their smartphones or computers and navigate around a digital replica of a store.
Others have gone for virtual shopfronts and changing rooms with smart mirrors that allow you to see what digital clothes look like alongside information about the product. This last one is very similar to the AR Try-On features that have taken social media storm.
Some brands even offer virtual experiences that require a VR headset, allowing them to experience a specially designed tour or exhibition and even get an in-depth look at the backstage world of fashion shows.
It is already evident that VR shopping is being diversified by the potential that comes with virtual reality, so it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine a world where retail will eventually introduce us to a completely virtual world.
We’re already seeing this type of world becoming a reality through the developments made by Facebook and other companies: the metaverse.
This is an entirely digital world where users can socialize, play, explore and shop. Moreover, digital advertising promotes products, and customers can buy whatever catches their eye through the implementation of blockchain, which pronounces that any digital product can be declared ownable.
Fully virtual shops wouldn’t work without blockchain technology, so in the reality of shops becoming virtual, this is a promising first step in creating those worlds and encouraging engagement and satisfaction from the customer.
Benefits of Shopping in a Virtual World
VR shopping as a phenomenon has already been marked with several advantages that make it an attractive option to prospective shoppers. Aside from the celebrated levels of immersion and engagement, it is also more sustainable, making retail a healthier, safe, and socially aware industry that respects the current environmental crisis.
To this end, a fully virtual shop should magnify these benefits tenfold, making the shopping experience an exclusive and individualized process that puts the customer first. This is a great way to help them feel comfortable in these uncharted virtual waters and create an enjoyable and interactive atmosphere, unlike anything they’d be able to experience in the physical world.
The biggest draw of virtual shopping, though, is the sense of freedom. Customers will have the power to go wherever they want for as long as they want. There’s no time limit to their exploration, and it can all be done from the comfort of their own home, making the whole experience more relaxing.
There’s even an advantage for the window shoppers among us. The virtual world would take that to a whole new level. If you’re getting bored of walking up and down the same high street looking through the same windows, why not try that in a digital rendition of Rome? Paris? The moon? The possibilities are endless, and the adventure is only just beginning.
The key to an entirely virtual shopping experience is a possibility. Anything goes into creating a digital world, giving brands even more freedom of creativity to express themselves in new and exciting ways and give their customers a revitalized journey through their shops.
The developments of the metaverse have proven that completely virtual shops are more likely than ever. This is a pioneering adventure that the fashion industry and its customers will experience together, and the future of shopping is getting bolder every day.