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Virtual Stores, Retail & Shopping: Stats, Benefits & Examples

Virtual stores have the power to revolutionise the way we shop. With the ability to reach a global audience and offer a vast selection of products without the constraints of physical space, virtual stores can provide consumers with unparalleled convenience and access.

What are virtual stores?

Whilst previously, virtual stores were defined as eCommerce stores, advancements in technology have meant that its definition has become broader and more complex than that.

A virtual store is a digital eCommerce shopping experience that incorporates 3D elements to immerse audiences and bridge the gap between physical and online experiences. Sounds futuristic, right?  Well although it may sound groundbreaking (we’re not meaning to undersell it, it is) they are more common than you might think. As more brands shift towards the common desire of conquering the metaverse, they are beginning to offer these unique digital retail experiences to customers, using unique and innovative technology.

Virtual stores almost always incorporate 3D models in some shape or form, whether it is a 3D modelled replica of their physical store that can be explored on a web browser, an augmented reality (AR) tool allowing customers to place products in their own space, or a virtual reality trial and test of a brands’ product range.

Still sounding like tech jargon? No problem, by the end of this article you will have everything you need to know about virtual stores and how they could benefit you.

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Virtual stores to enhance retail experiences: the stats

According to the Office of National Statistics, despite a decrease in the proportion of online sales since COVID-19 restrictions were eased, consumers are still shopping online significantly more than when compared before the pandemic.

Since so many consumers have adapted to and increased their online shopping habits, the need for more immersive online experiences has increased. The reliance on eCommerce has become so incredibly high that brands need to ensure their product experiences keep up with the seemingly never-ending consumer demand.

It is also important to consider the new age of ‘digitally impatient and unimpressed’ consumers. As the speed of technology advances, consumers become accustomed to it and what used to be considered fast is now slower than a snail, and what used to be engaging is now more boring than watching paint dry. Up to 88% of consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience… no pressure.

 

It’s not all doom and gloom though (we promise). When virtual stores are created with the consumer in mind, the benefits can be incredible for brands. Find our favourites below:

71% of consumers say they would shop more often if they used AR

Augmented reality can communicate details about the look and feel of products that standard 2D imagery simply can’t match. AR allows customers to make more confident purchase decisions, more often.

11x more likely to convert when engaging in 3D experiences

3D experiences are more memorable and produce higher levels of engagement and dwell time, meaning that your customers are more likely to remain interested and are less likely to bounce from your page/experience.

 

CREATE YOUR VIRTUAL STORE

66% of shoppers agree that 3D & AR boost buying confidence

No image, nor video can match the capabilities of 3D experiences, being able to interact with, explore and configure products provides immense benefits for both consumers and brands.

What are the benefits of virtual stores?

We know what you’re thinking, how exactly could my brand benefit from a virtual store? Although the popularity of virtual stores is increasing, they are still widely underused considering their key benefits. Here are the top 4 benefits of virtual stores that utilise 3D models, augmented reality, or virtual reality.

1.     Drive WAY more sales & minimise your returns

Shopify highlighted that virtual stores that incorporate 3D content see a 94% conversion lift on average. If this alone isn’t enough to at least pique your interest, then we don’t know what will.

The benefits of virtual stores don’t end there, research has also highlighted that return rates of products have the potential to drop by up to 40%, so not only are sales on steroids, but brands are also saving on customer returns. This is because virtual brand and product experiences allow the users to understand them more, resulting in more reliable and confident purchase decisions.

2.     Enhanced customer engagement

Every brand wants to increase customer engagement, whether your virtual retail store is marketed towards customers or other businesses, engagement drives memories and builds relationships.

This is exactly what virtual stores are designed to do, to build interactive and immersive experiences that allow consumers to get closer to a brand’s product online than ever before. Virtual experiences nearly double (x1.9) engagement levels amongst consumers. At REYDAR, we are proud to have had the chance to build multiple virtual stores, including one for Canon, highlighted in the video below.

3.     Analytics, everywhere

Virtual stores can also provide powerful analytic data, whether it be the most popular journeys within the store, the number of times a product is viewed in AR, or customers’ average dwell time, allowing brands to further understand their audiences’ behaviours, preferences, and attitudes.

With a 3D-modelled store accessed through a browser or a virtual reality headset, companies can even test different products, layouts, and visuals to see how their customers interact with them. This market research would be more difficult and take a much longer time to analyse in a physical store, but in a virtual one, data is presented to you in real-time and easily stored.

4.     Deliver personalised experiences

Customers are used to getting spammed (we all know that feeling), with 63% of consumers saying they get highly annoyed with companies blasting them with generic messaging. Personalised experiences can and need to go much further than simply replacing the name in an email line.

Virtual stores enable retailers to analyse customer shopping patterns, behaviour, and habits in detail to create highly personalised experiences. It is reported that 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide experiences that are relevant to them, including offers, recommendations, and products.

The best examples of virtual stores

Now that we have looked at some groundbreaking stats and excellent benefits of virtual stores, we thought we better show you some in practice. Check them out below.

REYDAR – Ultimaker is the ultimate virtual showroom

We have to toot our own horn to start with, right? We had the opportunity to work with Ultimaker to deliver a fully branded, always-on, 3D virtual environment allowing an unlimited number of attendees to quickly discover new products.

The 3D virtual store was accessible on desktop through a browser and allowed users to roam freely throughout the virtual environment, interact with products and hotspots, engage in videos, talk through 121 chats and attend webinars. Try it out here.

The immersive virtual experience had over 5,000 users in 4 days, with an average dwell time of 1 hour and 27 minutes, and users triggered more than 26,000 content events.

“We had high expectations before the event, and you’ve exceeded them”

– Sander Van Geelen – Ultimaker

Argos – AR Shopping App (developed by us)

We have to carry on tooting our own horn, right? Another project we feel incredibly privileged to have developed was our work with Argos. Our team of augmented reality experts partnered with the development team at Argos to integrate an AR viewing mode into the existing Argos app. This allows customers to visualise and interact with a range of furniture products in their own homes.

Once the furniture is placed in the real-world environment, customers can easily reposition it to find the best placement, and they can even adjust the colour and fabric to make sure it matches their personal tastes.

IKEA – Place app, virtual retail shopping

The IKEA Place app was released in 2021 (very similar to our Argos solution) and brought mass exposure to the power of AR in retail shopping experiences. The app was built to allow consumers to design entire rooms using the LiDAR sensor in an iPhone. Using the app you can place furniture, shelving, decorations and even change wall colours before even being to export your room in both 2D and 3D to share or save.

The app was incredibly successful for IKEA, being downloaded over 31 million times in the first few months, achieving an average rating of 4.6 stars and helping to attract new, younger audiences. The app also led to a significant increase in website traffic thanks to its 98% AR functionality accuracy.

“The goal was to create the best retail app possible for IKEA lovers to explore our ranges and shop in a super easy way”  

– Sandra Osbeck, Product Manager, Ingka Group

Dyson VR – virtual reality shopping experience

At the end of 2021, Dyson presented its first virtual reality store. Dyson Demo VR was labelled as a new way to experience Dyson technology. The VR shopping experience is an immersive 360° virtual reality environment where consumers can discover, shop and learn more about Dyson technology from the comfort of their own homes.

Using a virtual reality headset, Dyson created a unique shopping experience, allowing consumers to examine, test and explore the components of some of their most popular products. For example, consumers could style virtual hair with a virtual hair dryer or clean a virtual floor using a virtual vacuum cleaner… did we mention this is all virtual?

“Demonstration was an important part of showing how products worked and the Dyson Demo VR would in the future incorporate a fully integrated e-commerce solution and the ability to talk to a real salesperson”

– Sean Newmarch, eCommerce Director, Dyson

Build your virtual store with REYDAR

Like what you hear (more like read)? If you did, or you just want to learn more about how REYDAR can help to propel your brand into the virtual world, then contact us below and let us know how we can help.

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