Guide to the Virtual (Digital) Showroom with Examples
Buying products offline and online are two completely different experiences. In the first case, you usually act emotionally and impulsively but you can ‘feel’ the product. In the second case, you are careful and deliberate in the decision-making process but you cannot try the product yourself.
Is there a way to combine the best practices from both in-store and online shopping, considering global tech trends and market demand?
Sure! Virtual showroom could become your go-to option in this case.
What is a Virtual Showroom?
Virtual showroom is a B2B solution for brands and retailers to create their own virtual experience using artificial intelligence (AI), ARQ, and other technologies and software, allowing customers to surf through the assortment in a new immersive way. Simply put, a virtual store is a VR staged environment with real size 3D models of products to purchase that allows you to show your products to multiple buyers simultaneously.
Types of Virtual Showrooms Based on Technology Used
Today, there are several digital technologies and software used for building virtual showroom. Immersive technologies, namely AR, VR, and WebAR are the most common ones as they allow immersive 360° and 3D imagery view from almost any spot. Depending on the selected technology, the virtual showroom can either let the user check all the objects in 3D or make them be a part of the walkthrough experience.
AR Virtual Showroom
AR is probably the most common tech choice for today’s virtual showrooms as it helps to augment your reality digitally without the need for special equipment. With AR, the information and objects about the products are overlaid in the real world. This is an ideal option for stores that actually exist and who want to let their visitors try their products and see whether they will fit their space (just recall the famous IKEA place app).
VR Virtual Showroom
Unlike AR, VR technology allows you to create a digital virtual showroom to shop remotely with the help of a VR headset or smart glasses. An immersive experience with dynamic video and audio helps your customers fully engage and experience your products in a branded new way without the need to travel anywhere.
Web Virtual Showroom
Web digital showroom is ideal for those who want to use AR but don’t want to create apps for that. WebAR technology allows you to experience the features of Augmented Reality without the need to download anything. You just need your browser, and that’s it. Web experiences won’t be suitable for you if you want your showroom to have advanced design and functionality. Besides, not all the mobile browsers function properly with WebAR technology.
How Does Virtual Showroom Work For A Brand?
The virtual showroom is a great tool that allows you to develop your brand on various levels:
- it increases the brand’s speed of entering the market
- plan the assortment you have in the store
- arrange your products however you like, depending on the buyer’s purchasing history, location, and other crucial factors that simplify the buying process for them
- manage and customize your app via the admin panel without involving developers
- gather and analyze data
- immerse customers effectively using a mobile device only
- create various fully custom 3D environments branded specifically for you
- plan the space inside the showroom and customize it
- create the hot spots and animations to interact with customers
- use special sales stands and customize them anytime
When a brand wants to stand out from the competitors, it might try lots of old-school methods. But how can you reach a different destination using the same paths?
Today, the brand needs to be insanely creative to be noticed, make the content go viral, and generate a real buzz around its name. And this is when a virtual showroom comes in handy.
What Can Customers Do In Virtual Showrooms?
Frankly speaking, a customer can do a LOT inside the virtual showroom:
- move physically around the virtual space integrated into the real world
- ‘try on’ products in real space or themselves (accessories, for example)
- use the virtual ruler to check the actual size of each product and whether it would fit in the real space
- discover product descriptions and characteristics
- view marketing and advertising information
- engage in sales, promotions, and seasonal activations
- buy products
Virtual showroom gives clients a sense of control over the process of purchase and reduces their stress level from buyer’s remorse. It allows customers to understand that they are not buying air, that there is still something tangible, something real, and thus it gives them the real Try Before You Buy feeling.
How to Use a Virtual Showroom?
Virtual showroom is amazingly easy to use. All you need is 5-10 square meters of free space and a device with a camera:
1. Download the application
2. Follow the instructions after launching the app
3. Use the camera to scan the surface and place a virtual store
4. Enter the store to choose, examine, try on, and buy products
In other words, just get out of your bed and click the phone. Simple as that.
How Can Different Industries Benefit from Virtual Showrooms
It is probably the first industry that comes to mind when speaking of virtual showrooms. Just like a real showroom, a virtual one can present buyers with an even more engaging experience – lightning, colors, and music (even integrated live voice and video communication) can be edited to set the right mood for browsing through virtual shelves.
The Tommy Hilfiger brand created its own virtual showroom in 2015 in Amsterdam. Its main aim was to fight against environmental issues, and climate changes, namely minimization of the carbon footprint due to the physical sample production. With the help of digital showroom, wholesale selling, and digital production, the brand fully transformed its buying journey together with the retail value chain. Thanks to this innovation, there was a 65% reduction of physical samples worldwide, and 80% in the Amsterdam virtual showroom.
Another well-famous fashion brand that opted for virtual showrooms is Diesel. Diesel, an Italian clothing brand, has created its own 360-degree showroom called Hyperoom. This digital store is aimed to let the fashion buyers immerse themselves into remote buying as well as to improve the whole ordering process. Hyperoom was created with the help of OTB, Diesel’s parent company, which also created its own showroom within Hyperoom later. Each of the virtual stores has its own design, values, and personality. Virtual showroom features 360° displays with 2D closeups, and lets buyers view the products just like in person.
Purchasing engineering products is not safe online, as it requires an all-round survey of its parts and products. Luckily, with a virtual showroom, you can present your potential buyers with 3D virtual tours, where they interact with the products and study all the details and features before making a purchase.
Balfour Beatty Rail is one of the first adopters of immersive technologies in their rail construction. The company uses it during almost all the stages of development – planning, prototyping, and presentation of their production.
Home Decor and Interior Design
Proper visualization, especially in real spaces, is one of the most important factors when it comes to interior design. Being able to correctly visualize the product and how it will fit in the space, as well as interact with products and alter them if needed – those are the features that virtual showroom is capable of.
Apart from its IKEA Place, the company has the IKEA Virtual Reality Showroom that allows customers to see the IKEA products and rooms in real life even before their packages arrive at their homes. This immersive experience also helps customers play with different colors, configure items and their features with hyper-realistic HD experiences.
Geberit is a famous bathroom designer and manufacturer located in the UK. Its virtual showroom is designed to offer the designers, clients, and end-users the detailed 3D view of numerous products from different ceramic collections, as well as behind-the-wall products.
A virtual showroom is an ideal option for building an intimate shopping experience by accentuating the intricacy of such small products like fine jewelry and various small accessories. To enhance the beauty and design of the products as well as make them more appealing to the customers, you can use sound effects and different lighting options.
Jimmy Choo, a world-known brand famous for its shoes collection and accessories, has got an interactive buyer’s showroom which is an ‘inner sanctum’ for their VIP clients.
Apart from launching smart glasses called Stories in collaboration with Meta (Facebook’s newly adopted name), Ray-Ban offers their clients virtual test-drive of their sunglasses using their smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
Virtual showrooms are a good option in the electronic sector as they help better showcase the electronic products along with their main features and details.
LG Electronics has launched their first showroom called LG HVAC Virtual Experience aimed to provide customers with a huge catalog of the brand’s products. It also makes it possible to study the behind-the-scenes details about the technologies they use in manufacturing (e.g., how the air travels in air conditioners).
Dyson uses a virtual showroom to present their hyped products and describe the technologies behind each of them, too.
Virtual showrooms can present the automotive industry with that extra push needed for buyers to make a purchase, no matter if it is a high-end brand with sleek and modern virtual showrooms or a simple and authentic dealership experience.
Mercedes Benz created its own virtual store to present its buyers with new and used 3D car models and their pricing, skipping the hassle of going to their dealer centers. By providing seamless and immersive experiences, digital showrooms can assist potential buyers in their car-buying journeys both online and offline.
Toyota is yet another vehicle manufacturer that opted for digitalization of the customer experience. Their virtual showroom aims to let customers view, spec, and directly book the selected car, get 360-degree of the vehicle’s interior and exterior design, and allow a potential buyer to see how the car will look in their garage.
Tesla offers its customers to experience their cars using virtual reality. They can easily customize the vehicle however they like – change the color of the car, its interior, or see what’s inside the car.
The Real Estate industry is one of the most visual ones, though it struggled a lot because of the Covid-19 impact. Virtual showrooms armed real estate agents and property managers with improved tools to better market their properties, no matter if it is a luxurious condo or small office. Using virtual stores, buyers won’t need to travel to the physical location and can review and react to any spaces they select anytime, from any part of the world.
Engel & Völkers showroom for Greece is a fully digital real estate shop that help the company preserve the personal contact with their customers with the help of immersive technologies, no matter their location or restrictions of social distancing.
Virtual Showroom Benefits
Virtual showroom marks the beginning of a new era. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to go beyond the limits of time and space and open as many shops as they can only imagine. Besides, due to the unlimited virtual environment, retailers can locate as many products as they want in virtual shops.
AR apps development is also profitable because it increases sales (more access to your goods at any time of the day) and reduces costs (no need to hire employees and to pay rent) at the same time. Besides, it reduces spending on manufacturing display samples and increases the average check due to the upsell of the related products.
But the benefits of virtual showroom doesn’t stop there:
- make people interact with your products
- extend the physical space with a virtual one
- reduce costs for showrooms maintenance
- present your products basically anywhere
- bring shopping assistance to a new level
- explain information in an engaging way
- provide access to the unlimited assortment
- transform shopping into entertainment
- make your virtual showroom and products accessible 24/7
With a virtual showroom, anyone who has a smartphone is your potential client. All the information inside the app is 100% visual, which means the customer can speak Japanese and still be able to assess the product you are selling.
Virtual showroom is a great example of developing your business by implying digital tools. It provides customers with the comfort they require: a personalized approach, experimentalism, wow factor, visualization, and the possibility to try things before buying. It takes the very best from both online stores and brick-and-mortar stores and creates an opportunity for a retailer to increase sales and reduce costs at the same time.
Alibaba, Amazon, Bentley, IKEA, L’Oreal, Porsche, Shopify, Tesla – these are just a few companies that decided to explore virtual and augmented reality as a tool to develop their business. Because they perfectly know that VR/AR is not a trend anymore. It is a necessity.
If you are thinking about joining them, now it’s about time to do that.