VR in ecommerce

As more and more businesses are adopting AR and VR, these emerging technologies have been making a lot of headlines recently. And rightly so. VR in e-commerce is a blessing for both the business and customers.   

In order to sell things online successfully, e-commerce businesses need to showcase products, describe them in detail, and build trust for sales and growth. This is most possible through AR and VR in e-commerce.  

How? Let’s discuss how in this blog.   

What is VR in e-commerce?  

Virtual Reality (VR) is a 3D projection or computer-generated simulation of a real environment where users interact with tools such as headsets, consoles, and gloves to experience the virtual world.  This virtual environment could be a 360-degree video, photo, or product demo that offers users an immersive experience.    

So, what role does VR play in the eCommerce industry?  

From 3D product visualization, virtual try-ons, showrooms, and tours to interactive advertising and marketing campaigns, VR in e-commerce facilitates better product understanding, user engagement, and an enhanced overall customer experience.  

The entire shopping experience is made more visual, personalized, immersive, and engaging through the use of VR. This improves the quality of business-customer interaction, enhances customer satisfaction, and learning, and reduces the return rates of products.  

We will learn more about the use cases of VR in e-commerce and the benefits arising out of them in the subsequent sections of this blog.  

The use of VR technology is not just limited to the e-commerce industry alone. Many other sectors have been improving and enhancing their services including healthcare, gaming, entertainment, digital marketing, aerospace, etc., through this immersive technology.    

Use cases of VR in e-commerce  

The various use cases of VR in e-commerce are:   

1. Virtual Store tour   

With traditional e-commerce practices, customers could not view the product well enough to make a confident purchase online. With one-dimensional or static product images and descriptions, customers often struggle to fully visualize and understand the products. As a result, they are unable to build trust around the product or the brand and abandon their carts.  

To overcome this, more and more businesses nowadays offer their customers the option to virtually tour their stores. The customers can explore products in a 3D environment from the comforts of their homes. They can even browse through the multiple clothing or product racks just as they do in the physical store.    

Ralph Lauren, a global clothing brand, allows its shoppers to virtually enter and walk through the brand’s most iconic retail spaces in New York, Beverly Hills, Paris, and Hong Kong.   

Another popular global beauty brand, Charlotte Tilbury, launched an entirely virtual storefront, allowing customers to experience beauty and shopping like never before.   

Virtual stores and showrooms are also being created by retail industry behemoths such as IKEA and Amazon to allow customers to explore and visualize products and experience shopping in a 3D environment. This further helps them to make more informed and conscious buying decisions.   

IKEA’s virtual reality app, IKEA Place, allows users to virtually tour the showroom and visualize how the furniture would look in their spaces or homes.  

Similarly, Amazon’s Sumerian platform facilitates virtual storefront development for businesses, allowing them to offer immersive experiences.   

In 2016, eBay also announced a partnership with Myer, an Australian retailer, to create the world’s first virtual reality department store.   

Walmart too offers a virtual showroom where customers can browse home decor products virtually from anywhere. The experience was built using the Unity engine and in partnership with Spatialand.  

Major automobile brands such as Audi, KIA, Renault, etc., offer virtual showrooms for customers to explore their dream vehicles.  

Customers are able to explore virtual environments, allowing them to better understand product scale, size, and details, especially for home furniture websites and automobiles.  

Also read: AR/VR in Automotive Industry 

The emerging technology of VR in e-commerce has also allowed businesses to engage their customers in games while shopping or otherwise. These VR–enabled games allow customers to have fun and also earn exclusive points, offers, and deals to be redeemed for present or future purchases.  

2. Product Configurator  

Since e-commerce websites without VR simulations are not able to offer customers a comprehensive view or details of a product, and extremely less interactivity with just text and images, the bounce and return rates are quite high for them. Moreover, these websites also allow for very limited customization options, more often with pre-set choices. 

To overcome this issue, a VR product configurator was introduced, and it changed the face of the retail industry. It allowed customers to view the products in virtual settings, tweak their looks, and customize them till they are fully satisfied with them. The experience and the product, both can be personalized using VR product configurators in e-commerce.   

VR product configurator

This VR product configurator is most used in the retail industry where changes and moderations to the products are possible to the customer’s liking.  

Businesses either integrate it into their e-commerce platform or website for customers to use while browsing. As a customer chooses customization options, the product gets rendered in real-time by the VR configurator, updating the product with the selected options. This immediate reflection of customization of selected choices in the product appearance helps customers to view the result of their choices instantly. 

Once customers feel satisfied with the customized product, the VR configurator integrates with the e-commerce check-out solution and allows users to seamlessly make a purchase. If a customer does not feel like making a purchase right away, he/she may also get the option to save as well as share their configured products for future reference or purchase.  

3. Live events  

The pandemic more or less restricted our ability to hold physical events. And since hard times call for inventions, businesses started virtually engaging their customers and bringing them closer.   

Virtual live events allow e-commerce businesses to offer an immersive shopping experience that goes way beyond traditional online shopping practices. Customers can navigate and explore virtual stores, virtually attend product launch events and seek demonstrations, interact with businesses in real-time, and much more.  

Furthermore, VR platforms also provide businesses with customer-related data analytics such as user behavior and attention during the live event, which products or features were they attracted to the most, etc. This data allows businesses to form more targeted and effective marketing strategies.  

Therefore, in comparison to traditional e-commerce practices, the practice of VR enables live events to offer more interactive, engaging, and personalized experiences. These events could be attended through VR headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR. In addition, users may also make use of VR-compatible smartphones along with devices such as Google Cardboard or standalone VR headsets.  

Some e-commerce businesses also develop or partner with VR platforms or applications to organize these events. These platforms act as virtual venues where users can participate in live streams and engage with the content and products.  

Live events, pop-up shops, etc., create fresh opportunities for businesses to connect and interact with customers and outdo their competitors.  

4. Interactive manuals  

With VR in e-commerce, businesses have started offering their customers immersive learning experiences. Interactive product manuals allow customers to virtually interact with the products, know more about their features, and understand their functionality in a 3D environment.  

This helps customers to ditch the traditional lengthy, text-filled manuals or videos. These manuals allow customers to understand product usage better and retain the information for longer. This is especially helpful if the product is complicated or delicate and needs a careful start or when the customer is not so confident with the unboxing.  

This entire learning experience could also be personalized using VR. Virtual reality technology allows for the creation of personalized tutorials, tailored according to the customer’s skill levels, and specific requirements. This further enhances the customer experience and understanding.  

These VR-based manuals also allow businesses to transcend language barriers in traditionally done customer service and reach global audiences by incorporating visual and interactive elements, instead of language-specific text. Customers are supposed to follow visual hints or cues and interact with the virtual elements instead of going through the text.  

Thus, VR interactive manuals offer a comprehensive view of the product, its features, and its usage.  Moreover, the option to virtually handle and operate a product before deciding whether to buy it or not, more or less reduces uncertainty around it. This further helps to decrease the chances of return and maximizes customer satisfaction.  

Additionally, these manuals boost the confidence of a customer while using the product. 

Lowe’s Holoroom, for example, leverages VR to allow shoppers to have an immersive experience of ‘how to use’ a particular tool or how to perform a complicated DIY project.   

5. VR-enabled 360-degree product views  

Traditional e-commerce shopping experiences lacked a comprehensive product view, and as a result, customers could not feel satisfied or confident enough to make a buy or the return rates of the products were generally higher.  

However, modern businesses, through VR in e-commerce, have started offering their customer 360-degree product views for a better look at the product and more informed decisions. 

Customers get the chance to evaluate the product from various angles, gaining a better understanding of the product’s design, and features. This allows them to feel comparatively more confident in their purchase.  

But how do 360-degree product views work or are offered to the customers?  

So, as the first step, high-quality images of the products covering all the angles for a 360-degree view are captured or 3D digital product models are developed. Then, in the former case, the captured images are stitched together to create a clear 360-degree view of the product, ensuring smooth and natural transitions between different angles.   

Afterwards, the stitched content or the 3D digital models are integrated into a VR environment which could be an app, a web solution with virtual reality compatibility, or a virtual showroom.  

These VR-enabled 360-degree product views are then integrated into the e-commerce platforms, allowing customers to access them directly through the product pages on a website or application.  

Navigation and interaction with the VR-enabled 360-degree product views can be done through controls provided by the VR platform. Customers can rotate the product, zoom in/out, and in some cases also access additional product details or specifications within the VR environment.  

The usage of VR headsets is not compulsory for this process, but they do enhance the customer experience by offering a more realistic view of the product.  

Retailers who operate through online platforms such as eBay and ASOS, all have integrated 360-degree product views into their websites/apps for more product awareness as well as reduction in return rates.   

For example, Alibaba’s Buy+ VR shopping platform allows consumers to explore and make purchases in a virtual environment with 360-degree views using a VR headset and two handset controls.   

They can browse multiple products and their features, virtually present clothing and accessories on a catwalk, and add an item to their shopping carts.  

6. Virtual social shopping  

With the use of VR in e-commerce, businesses are transforming shopping into a virtual social experience. E-commerce businesses are integrating social features such as social media logins, chat functionalities, and user profiles directly into their websites or smartphone apps. These features allow customers to shop with friends and share feedback in real time.  

With the integration of social features into the VR shopping experiences, customers can create social profiles with details, social connections, and purchasing history, and interact with others in the form of chat, and comments. They can even share products and recommendations and shop with collective efforts.  

Customers can invite friends for a collaborative virtual shopping experience and ask for feedback and opinions on potential purchases in real-time. 

A social platform powered by VR technology, vTime, allows friends to come, discuss, and shop together in a virtual environment.   

Another social VR shopping platform called Squadded Shopping Party enabled shoppers to collectively shop online. Brands such as Charlotte Tilbury further encouraged the social shopping experience and have integrated group shopping features into their online platforms.   

Some e-commerce platforms also host virtual social events, offering live streaming, product demonstrations, and trials, or interactive sessions involving influencers or celebrities. Participants could ask questions and get a closer product look. 

7. VR-enhanced advertising and marketing campaigns 

Lastly, AR and VR in e-commerce are used for advertising and marketing purposes. The ads and campaigns created using AR and VR technologies in e-commerce are more engaging, and lucrative as opposed to traditional static image and text creatives.  

These creatives catch customers’ attention more quickly than the traditional ones and encourage active participation and longer user engagement.  

With virtual product visualization in 3D, 360-degree product views, and virtual showrooms incorporated in ads or marketing campaigns, customers could better understand the product’s scale, size, and features. This encourages them to get more information about it and engage further.  

A lot of big brands leverage VR to create the most interesting ads and marketing campaigns. Coca-Cola, for example, created a sleigh ride experience powered by VR to promote the holiday season and campaign.   

Similarly, a VR teleportation experience was created by Marriott Hotels that allowed users to virtually visit their properties, and explore and enjoy various destinations.  

Patrón Tequila, a global brand of tequila products, leveraged VR-enabled live-action video and 3D graphics to take their audience on a journey through their product’s evolution.   

Thus, VR-enabled ads and marketing campaigns may include virtual tours, games, or scenarios that catch the attention of users and engage them in a manner that traditional ads cannot.  

The Art of Patrón Virtual Reality Experience” at live events, retail locations, and on the Art of Patrón website took their audience on a virtual, immersive tour; telling the brand’s story and dedication towards their craft.   

Now that we have discussed the various use cases of VR in e-commerce, let’s now look at the various benefits that are gained out of these VR in e-commerce examples.   

Benefits of VR in e-commerce  

There are myriad benefits of VR in e-commerce. Some of the key advantages are:   

Creates an immersive, try-before-you-buy environment for the customers   

Through VR and AR in e-commerce, businesses can offer an immersive shopping experience to their customers. Online buyers can be fully satisfied with their buy once they can virtually try on products; almost like being and shopping in the physical store.   

Thus, e-commerce businesses could leverage VR technology to allow their target audience to buy products and feel confident in their purchase. Virtually trying on things is as good as trying them on in the offline stores; but with less effort and no fuel costs.   

This feature builds more customer trust for the brand and allows them to make informed purchasing decisions that are less likely to result in product returns.   

Facilitates product customization   

With VR technology, customers can view the product in 3D features and make customization suggestions/requests for it. This is not possible with the traditional shopping experience.   

VR in e-commerce allows customers to view the same product in different colors, models, etc., and create a suitable product by combining different available features or options.   

Some products that are not available in physical stores due to space constraints can be viewed online and all the product details can be viewed virtually, from home or on the go, with an immersive experience.   

This maximizes customization as well as satisfaction for the customer.   

Enhances overall customer experience  

AR and VR in e-commerce enhance the overall customer experience.   

Personally speaking, I used to not trust online shopping much. The simple reason was lack of compressive view and trial of the product. This resulted in the abandonment of carts a lot of times.  

However, with AR/VR features available on the e-commerce platforms, I have started trusting the products online. Virtually trying the product on almost feels like trying it on in the showroom or the brick-and-mortar.   

Additionally, the 360-degree product view allows one to look at the product from different angles, facilitating a better understanding of its scale and proportions. This enables me to rely more on the product reality than the limited description that is present online.   

As a result, I have started shopping online; saving my time and effort whilst receiving the same satisfaction as visiting the offline store.   

There are millions like me. In fact, a retail survey reported that 35% of the participants said that the VR feature would increase the chances of them shopping online.  

Furthermore, two-thirds of the participants wanted to shop using VR, while 63% expected VR experiences to become more available to them in the future.   

These are some staggering figures that highlight the bright future of VR in the retail and e-commerce industry.   

The AR/VR in e-commerce allows businesses to enhance customer experience, increase conversion rates, and reduce return rates.   

Increases your marketing capabilities  

VR technology combined with artificial intelligence helps with data analytics and offers customer insights relevant to business and marketing purposes. This data allows e-commerce companies to create more targeted marketing campaigns, made better with AR/VR interactive content.   

Businesses could add gamification and interactive elements to marketing campaigns and shopping experiences with AR/VR solutions. Virtual rewards, badges, exclusive points, challenges, contests, activities such as puzzles, interaction with virtual characters, etc., make the marketing campaigns and shopping experience more engaging and fun.  

These marketing campaigns are relatively more attractive and engaging. As a result, the business is able to attract more customers, and hence revenue.     


With the adoption of VR in e-commerce, businesses address as well as overcome some of the limitations of traditional industry practices and experiences.  

It is extremely beneficial for the simple reason that customers, when able to view and feel the product properly, are more likely to make the purchase online. The virtual tours, 360-degree product views, and interactive manuals, all work as impetuses for the customers to trust and shop. Customers get a more immersive, interactive, and personalized shopping experience, enhancing their satisfaction and driving business growth.  

The emerging technologies of AR and VR have their advantages and disadvantages but they, more or less, bring the physical stores to customers and nudge them to explore and shop more confidently.   

With an average conversion rate of 2.35% on websites, e-commerce businesses must embrace VR technology and aim for higher sales and revenue while reducing the return rates. Not just that, these businesses will also build a brand image, awareness, and trust, along the way.   

With the long list of positives crucial to an e-commerce company, there should not be any delay in adopting VR for your business growth.   

Contact a reliable VR partner like BigOhTech for guidance and development today!   

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