/ Shopping, Technology

Could you see yourself as a virtual shopper?

VR shopping

Would you like to virtually try on clothes before you buy them? How about taking a virtual tour of a store to browse its wares without fighting the crowds? Well, virtual shopping could be coming to you sooner than you think…

Like many people, I’ve embraced online shopping for certain items – after all, it’s great to avoid the busy crowds if you can.

But now two new ‘virtual’ and ‘augmented’ kids have joined the retail scene and my thoughts on whether either of these experiences will take off have brought me back to the initial thoughts I had when online shopping first launched.

I remember thinking to myself at the time: ‘It’ll never catch on – you can’t check the quality of anything, returning items would be a pain and people will surely miss the experience of shopping itself.’ Well, I was wrong wasn’t I?

So, will the rise of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) shopping enjoy the same success?

Virtually shopping

Some retailers certainly seem to think so. In fact, the likes of Gap, Amazon, Ikea, Topshop and Converse are all continuing to invest in AR and VR shopping experiences.

The idea is that shoppers can ‘try out’ clothes from the comfort of their own home, visualise how a sofa would fit in their living room, or even take a virtual tour of a department store to browse and purchase the latest products.

But it doesn’t stop there. If WorldPay’s proof of concept takes off, we’ll also be able to pay virtually.

That’s right: in a few years from now, we may be paying at virtual card readers in our homes, tapping for lower price items and entering our Pins in a virtual room for higher price tag purchases.

Do you think VR and AR shopping will take off? Should a new set of shopping rights apply if they do?


This comment was removed at the request of the user

“Do you think VR and AR shopping will take off? Will a new set of online scams kick off if they do?”

…fixed that for ya, Meilissa 😉

I think I might anticipate Malcolm by saying that virtual payment might not be a good idea. Despite their entreaties I’ve never enabled Amazon’s ‘one click’ system, since I know all too well how easy it is to buy a helicopter instead of a meat cleaver (both choppers…). But more than that, it’s good to be given breathing space before committing to a purchase. Many a slip…

Interesting that the film shows Gap, which is one of those stores if you think you are a certain size and the garment doesn’t fit, try a few more in the same size and one of them probably will. So not somewhere I would want to buy clothes virtually.

I often ‘walk’ around stores in gogglemaps as it gives me a good idea if a trip to the store is worth the bother.

But buying virtually, I’m not sure. The film in the link showed your virtual assistant pick up your selected bag. Turning it around and seeing the size next to a person might give a better view than just seeing it on a screen, but you cannot feel it or look at the quality in VR, and that is something I would miss.

As to virtual paying? No way.

At least it takes the mystery put of whether one’s posterior will look big in those pants. To make this work properly, of course, it would be necessary for the shopper to upload actual images of themselves in various postures rather than use a stylised universal model image that is no better than an in-store mannequin.

One of the banes of on-line retailing is the number of customers who order the same garment in several sizes/colours etc and then take advantage of the free returns service to send back the unwanted ones. There are also the shoppers who buy an expensive garment, wear it once for an event, and then return it for a full refund. Retailers with a VR try-on facility would be able to say “what you see is what you get and you can’t change your mind”. Of course, many shoppers would be too embarrassed to upload an image of themselves so the secrets of the changing rooms will remain unrevealed.

I am always amused by the expression “try it on in the comfort of your own home”. How do they know how comfortable my home is? Some people like going shopping because it gets them out of the house in smart surroundings where everything is clean and well-arranged, the kids aren’t fighting, the neighbours aren’t arguing, the dogs next door aren’t barking, and the chap across the road isn’t panel-beating his old banger back into shape.

Quite like the idea of a virtual tour of a Department Store to browse products but clothing is another matter! Even those who wear the same size clothing still vary in body shape, neck-to-waist measurement, length of limbs etc so at best it would give you a slightly better idea of how something might look if you’re not 5’10” and size 10 and might reduce the number of returns a little. Only by trying clothing on and moving around can anyone really see if an item of clothing suits them, is comfortable etc and for some of us, the feel/weight of the material is also a consideration.

As for virtual payment, not at the moment thanks!