October 10, 2022

Virtual showrooms: Why they are the next big thing in shopping

Virtual showrooms: Why they are the next big thing in shopping

Virtual showrooms use 3D and AR technology to create immersive shopping experiences

Key takeaways:  

  • Virtual showrooms are an emerging trend in retail, satisfying customers’ desires for more engaging experiences
  • Virtual showrooms overcome many barriers posed by physical showrooms 
  • Most popular retail and e-commerce brands have already implemented virtual showrooms 

What is a virtual showroom?

A virtual showroom is a digital simulation of a physical showroom that offers buyers immersive shopping experiences

A virtual showroom is a digital simulation of a physical showroom created with 3D and augmented reality (AR) technology. It allows users to look, feel, and interact with all kinds of products in the virtual space, mimicking the customer shopping experience in a real-world showroom.

Virtual showrooms offer immersive product buying experiences from the comfort of customers' homes, cutting out the need to travel. At the same time, a virtual showroom allows retailers to show their products simultaneously to various buyers.

Click on 'See in your space' to see this Alfa Romeo car in augmented reality. Because it is life-sized, point your phone camera to a sufficiently large space in front of you.

What advantages can virtual showrooms offer over physical spaces? Why does it matter?

Virtual showrooms are taking the retail and e-commerce space by storm by providing potential buyers with on-demand immersive customer experiences

Virtual showrooms have been around since 2016, but they exploded in popularity when the pandemic hit. With in-store shopping reaching a dramatic low, brands were forced to get creative with marketing and sales efforts. Rapidly, they had to convince shoppers to buy products from the comfort and safety of their homes. Most brands quickly realized they could offer an immersive, seamless, convenient shopping experience through virtual showrooms.

Using our cameras to help us with our day-to-day activities makes sense at a fundamental human level. We are visual beings – by some estimates, 30% of the neurons in the cortex of our brain are for vision. Aparna Chennapragada (VP, Google Lens and Consumer Shopping)

A Shopify survey revealed that brands advertising their products through AR saw a conversion rate as high as 94%. Moreover, a number of customers expect brands to offer virtual customer experiences today. According to a survey by Google, 43% of smartphone shoppers in the US already expect all beauty brands to use AR. Meanwhile, 47% of smartphone shoppers expect all automotive brands to use AR.

Clearly, tech-savvy shoppers want brands to have virtual showrooms and provide a fuss-free immersive shopping experience. But how exactly do virtual showrooms trump face-to-face showrooms? Let's take a look.

Virtual showrooms allow customers to instantly access and trial all the products in a brand's product catalog. For a garment store, it could mean trialing various sizes of a garment, different patterns, and cuts before choosing a particular option. For a car dealership, a virtual showroom could show all the various color options, builds, and custom features on offer.

With virtual showrooms, there are no restrictions on product availability or space constraints. Shoppers can try any product they want at any time.

Virtual showrooms allow buyers to trial products thoroughly before buying, which is especially helpful for businesses with longer buyer journeys and product consideration stages like B2Bs. Over 80% of shoppers are more confident in their buying decisions after using AR trials.

Another bonus is that virtual showrooms can be set up once, but live online forever. Unlike physical showrooms that have capacity restrictions, businesses can upload unlimited virtual products online to display to their customers. Buyers, in turn, can access virtual showrooms no matter where they are, and all they need is an internet connection.

Virtual showrooms also allow brands to provide a personalized and highly memorable customer experience. As a result, companies build brand awareness, generate interest, and gain an edge in the uber-competitive retail and e-commerce space.

When is a virtual showroom used? 

Brands use virtual showrooms whenever they need to provide interactive customer experiences and have an entire catalog of products that customers want to interact with

Most brands with virtual showrooms use them to provide end-to-end virtual customer experiences to shoppers. They not only allow shoppers to view and interact with products, but also present pricing details, exchange policy information, demo videos, and catalogs, while also providing shopping assistance when required.

What technologies does it deploy? 

Virtual showrooms are built using technologies like 3D and AR, VR, and some showrooms exist in the Metaverse as well

Brands use different technologies to build virtual showrooms. Here are the ones you should know about:

3D and AR-based virtual showrooms are built by brands that sell physical products. With AR, customers can visualize products in the real world, given that AR technology superimposes a 3D projection of the product in the real world. With AR technology, customers can understand a product’s size and visual attributes and how it interacts with the real world. They can engage with the product by changing viewing angles, color, and more, all by using their smartphone, tablet, computer or another device that supports AR technology. Removing friction, customers can also make purchases directly on the same device. 

VR-based virtual showrooms are typically built by brands that want to provide their customers with a fully immersive experience. Customers can tune into VR showrooms by donning a VR headset and experience a fully immersive customer experience with video and audio guidance. Products like cars or SaaS demos, for example, may use VR showrooms.

Some brands also construct virtual showrooms in the Metaverse. Unlike AR and VR, customers can access virtual showrooms in the Metaverse through digital avatars online. They can try garments, shoes, and more on their avatar or even buy virtual products for their avatars. Some brands allow buyers to trial real-world products virtually.

How does it work? 

Shoppers enter the virtual showroom, interact with products, and have a fully immersive customer experience

Once shoppers click the link to enter the virtual showroom, they can immediately observe the virtual catalog of products. Depending on the type of showroom, they can have an immersive AR experience, an immersive VR experience, or an interactive Metaverse experience. Either way, customers can interact with products in real-time in virtual environments, change their size, color, and orientation and flip through product catalogs to make confident and informed buying decisions.

Examples of virtual showrooms

Virtual showrooms are popular in a range of industries, from automobiles to garments to e-commerce products

Click on ´See in your space´ to this fitness life-sized and animated in your space.

Virtual showrooms are popular in the automobile and retail space. Here are some examples of how these industries are leveraging the technology to gain a competitive edge. 

BMW launched its digital showroom post-pandemic for health and safety reasons. The digital showroom allows buyers to test the features and functionalities of vehicles virtually. Potential buyers can also connect with automobile dealers directly through the virtual showroom and book a test drive if interested.

ORDRE’s online showroom, in contrast, tries to make the retail shopping experience quick for buyers. Users can view all of a garment’s details, including high-quality product videos, AR projections, and more. Moreover, the luxury wholesale fashion seller uses patented AR technology that automates the garment digitization process.

If you, too, are a brand in the automobile, e-commerce, or retail sector looking to provide your customers with end-to-end immersive customer experiences, consider setting up a virtual showroom today.

At Enhance, we can set you up with all the tools you need to build an immersive virtual showroom. Our experienced team of content creators, developers and industry experts will help you create effective 3D and AR content. Head over to our website to build an immersive AR experience today.

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