While e-commerce has revolutionised the way many goods are sold, offering customers greater level of convenience and forcing many bricks-and-mortar stores to completely change their business model, it is still far from the perfect experience. The fact is that e-commerce hasn’t been able to completely replace the physical store because there are some things that people just won’t buy online. Who would buy a brand new car, for example, or even a house online without ever having seen it in the real world? But thanks to advances in VR technology this will all change - and this future is closer than you might think. Most smartphones will have VR capabilities built in within the next couple of years, maybe even sooner, and VR headsets such as Oculus are becoming more affordable all the time.
This means forward-looking e-commerce players will be able to exploit VR to create completely new experiences, changing their relationship with customers and enabling the sale of goods never thought possible through online channels. While some retailers are beginning to experiment with in-store VR systems - with only limited success - the real potential for this technology lies outside of physical stores and in our own homes. Augmented reality systems are more suited to the inside of a store, while VR is very much something people can enjoy in their own homes and other safe spaces. And while it will be great to get a much more lifelike experience when shopping for goods online, getting a better feel for what a product looks like and its actual physical dimensions, there is so much more that VR can add to e-commerce than this.