I've already written about the things I dislike about shopping: from long lines to poorly lit dressing rooms. With digital solutions now the norm and the growth of mobile devices, virtual and augmented reality are set to change the shopping experiences we're used to. The pain points are now replaced with interactive experiences that inform and entertain.
Virtual technology bridges the gap between e-commerce and physical stores.
Traditional shopping has long become time-consuming and inconvenient (just remember any pre-holiday fuss!). And, although online purchases are easily made from the sofa, they lack real-store “try-on” options. That`s why blurring time and space limitations is a trend shaking up the whole industry of retail. While AR enhances real environment via digital access, VR makes it completely immersive. AR/VR is about adding a new level of intrigue to online shopping. The “Future of Retail” survey by Walker Sands involved 1,400 customers questioned about the virtual reality element in retail. The results report:
The technology isn't new, yet developers are now coming up with the hardware solutions convenient for everyday use. After the introduction of Oculus Rift as a game-changer, Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR offered a more affordable way to convert any smartphone into a VR headset. This is a chance to transform any VR tool into the entrance to virtual showrooms and stores. Instead of a two-dimensional shopping, the new commerce could be optimized to combine convenience and personalized approach.
But why fill this gap? Digital commerce seems to be the most convenient way to shop.
Not exactly. The most recent research by Walker Sands reports there still some product categories having more opportunities for in-store sales.
Closing, healthcare goods, and groceries are the categories most frequently bought in physical stores last year. Yet time-safety remains valuable for a digital era user, so the combination of online and offline retail makes sense.
Virtual reality promotes.
With VR, any store gets its 3D version for the users to walk through space. Virtual test drives, weddings, honeymoons, vacations are the options Marxent predicted to be promoted via VR headsets in 2015. Sounds strange, who is the person requesting a virtual marriage?! The point is that VR is a powerful service and product advertising platform. It integrated well in fashion and the automotive industry demonstrating high consumer engagement.
- Westfield Mall introduced the Future Fashion installation with giant video walls showcasing key fashion trends of the season. The visitors were guided through space with the help of Oculus Rift, while the “Edit me” option helped to choose preferable outfits available at any of Westfield's retailers.
- Volvo utilized Google Cardboard created an exciting imaginary journey to get a feel of driving a car. The videos included a variety of landscapes to get a close-to-real car driving experience.
Virtual Reality to Boost Brand Voice.
Gucci, Audi, BMW are just some of the well-known brands that have made VR/AR a part of their marketing campaign. But if you think VR is a luxury-segment power, don't get tripped up with this assumption. Adidas and Zara implemented concept stores to virtually try clothing items on. Red Bull created a VR experience of the Red Bull Air Race. L'Oreal launched a VR makeup mirror app.
YuMe & Nielsen reported emotional attachment to a brand grew by 26% due to VR experiences offered. The same research found the participants viewed a VR-related branded content 34% longer.
The point is in the freedom to explore new worlds. Unlike video or article, VR environment implies a sense of mystery attracting consumers attention and, therefore, increasing ever-important engagement rates.
Augmented reality motto: “Try before you buy.”
The chance to ensure whether an item fits before actually purchase it is the offer many industrial giants have already tapped into their businesses. The novelty is introduced more in realms of AR.
Augmented reality overlaps video with some virtual elements added. By allowing consumers to see how certain items fit their preferences, AR provides close-to-real product visualization, be it clothes or interior design items. These are just a few examples demonstrating AR as a game-changer among the evolving e-commerce business trends.
If you're one of those picky aesthetes (like me), you know that feeling of frustration after a tiresome process of choosing the right furniture. To get my apartment close to “my castle,” a thorough interior design planning is just the thing I need. Yet when shopping at home, it is quite hard to visualize how that super place-consuming wardrobe would look in my bedroom. AR seems to bridge the gap.
Together with Phoenix Media, Magento introduced augmented reality 3D-model extension that enables users to bring furniture right to their homes. Customers move, rotate, examine the product from different angles choosing the best-fit for their interior design. An innovative way to support a confident purchase decision.
The same AR catalog app launched by IKEA places furniture items in your room. You simply set the catalog where you'd like the furniture piece to be, the app displays key parameters of the item, and that's it. Now you know that green sofa isn't the best choice of yours.
Shoe sampling by Wanna Kicks is an iOS app similar to the one Converse introduced in 2010. This is the option to try on different pairs of sneakers from the available 3D models.
As the app tracks your feet movements, you have a chance to see how cool you are while walking in the new shoes. Recently, the developers announced working on a new app feature for the users to try the shoes standing in front of the mirror. This is the approach to integrate the in-store behavior with the digital extension and, therefore, drive online sales.
Once upon a time, someone came up with the idea to have a digital guide in desperate tries to find a consultant in a giant store. And a local grocery has become the place where the potential of AR mobile app reveals. Dent Reality is the agency developing online indoor navigation with the help of virtual technologies. The vision technology localizes you within the store and, using the stock information, displays product details you need as well as plots the route to the right department.
VR/AR is a competitive area.
Statista expects the U.S. VR/AR market share to grow drastically, eclipsing to $160Bn by 2023.
Because of these numbers, I give you two reasons why should VR-solution providers pay much attention to software testing.
- User Experience. With the advances of VR/AR, even slight issues with usability spoil the fun. Negative impressions are powerful; usually, people avoid experiencing them again.
- Responsibility. VR tech is no more a just game industry driver. A wide range of industries brings about responsibility for the services delivered with the help of VR, especially those related to healthcare.
What areas of VR/AR software usually undergo testing?
The list of features to check always depends on project specifics & the requirements. The scenarios I provide here are standard, the whole strategy is likely to be modified:
Testing on real devices
Virtual reality testing usually involves traditional and mobile platforms to ensure the right performance of VR/AR application. The traditional require QA engineers to check if VR functions correctly on a high-end PC and console devices, typically PlayStation, Xbox. The case might involve testing if a VR-based app accurately displays on the headset. At times when motion controller device is added, QA engineers detect motion inconsistencies.
Mobile hardware testing includes checking memory leaks, network impact, battery, and power consumption issues when VR app is active. Google Cardboard, Google Daydream View, Samsung Gear are the devices used to test an app against the scenarios above.
Since 3D space goes beyond standard interface structure, it requires a different approach to test the basic design elements. Immersive technology is about a high-standard 36⁰ overview, correct video & audio performance, clear textual part, and non-glitchy graphics.
We've already agreed that comfort and engagement are the major features to characterize a high-quality VR product. Focus groups of end-users are gathered due to gender, age, experience with VR tech, and reflect the target demographics of a future product. Along with UX testing, QA engineers get subjective reviews on the product, including navigation convenience and overall content consistency.
The fuss over virtual tech is everywhere, and there are reasons for that. It seems to be a cutting-edge solution in the areas we didn't expect. So go ahead with more research monitoring the market and enjoy your success!