Virtual Shopping: The Next Frontier of Ecommerce

Welcome to the virtual shopping revolution, where the convenience of shopping online meets the personal touch of shopping in-store. Discover why modern brands embracing this revolution are reaping the rewards.

People holding two iPhones and scanning a QR code

Happy New Year! Shook off the hangover yet? Good! It’s time to dive into virtual shopping technology.

That’s right: while most of us haven’t even taken down our Christmas decorations yet, the tech innovators are already hitting modern retailers with cutting-edge tools to supercharge today’s shopping experience. It’s already pretty clear that in 2024, virtual shopping will emerge as a significant game-changer, redefining the way consumers engage with brands and products.

So, What is Virtual Shopping?

At its core, virtual shopping is an immersive, interactive online shopping experience that transcends the limitations of traditional ecommerce. Unlike the conventional click-and-buy model, virtual shopping mimics the in-person experience through digital platforms, offering a more personalized and engaging way of exploring products. This approach leverages advanced technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and innovative uses of communication to create a simulated shopping environment that customers can navigate from the comfort of their homes.

The essence of virtual shopping lies in its ability to blend the convenience of online shopping with the tactile and personal experience of brick-and-mortar stores. In essence, it’s providing the clienteling experience that they would get in-store. Shoppers can virtually try on clothes, preview furniture in their homes, or receive tailored recommendations from live sales associates, all through their screens. This method not only enhances customer satisfaction but also significantly reduces the guesswork and uncertainty often associated with online shopping, leading to better purchase decisions and fewer returns.

The essence of virtual shopping lies in its ability to blend the convenience of online shopping with the tactile and personal experience of brick-and-mortar stores.

Why Virtual Shopping is Gaining Momentum in 2024

According to Polaris Market Research, the virtual shopping assistant market (which is just one segment of virtual shopping overall) is set to see a whopping 29.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2032. And according to Coresight Research (vai obsessar), “88% of U.S. brands and retailers that have invested in virtual stores have seen an increase in total sales.”

This means that not embracing virtual shopping in the near future means your brand will simply be leaving money on the table - which your competition will surely snatch up.

So why now? There are several factors propelling the growth of virtual shopping. First and foremost is the continuing surge in online shopping since the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdowns and social distancing norms, consumers rapidly shifted to online platforms, a trend that has persisted post-pandemic, too. This shift has fundamentally altered shopping behaviors, with more customers now preferring the convenience and safety of shopping from home.

Additionally, the rise in remote work has contributed to this trend. As more people spend time at home, they are increasingly turning to online shopping as a primary means of purchasing goods. This change in lifestyle has created a unique opportunity for virtual shopping platforms to integrate seamlessly into the daily routines of consumers who are less out-and-about – and thus infrequently near brick & mortar stores.

Lastly, the technology required for high-quality virtual shopping experiences is now more accessible and advanced. Innovations in virtual communication methods, along with improvements in AI for personalized recommendations, have made it possible for brands to offer virtual clienteling that rivals the in-person experience. These technological advancements have been crucial in making virtual shopping a viable and attractive option for both retailers and consumers.

So just what type of technology?

Why virtual shopping in 2024?

  1. Online shopping isn't going anywhere.
  2. Rise in remote work.
  3. Virtual shopping technology has gotten more efficient.

The Current Technology Enabling Virtual Clienteling

At the heart of virtual clienteling is a suite of technologies that collectively create a seamless and personalized shopping experience. For instance, AR apps allow users to visualize how a piece of furniture would look in their space or how a pair of glasses would fit their face. Similarly, VR can transport customers into a fully immersive digital store, where they can browse and interact with products as if they were physically present.

AI plays a significant role in enhancing the customer experience. Through machine learning algorithms and data analysis, AI provides personalized recommendations and styling advice, closely mimicking the expertise of in-store assistants. This level of customization ensures that each customer's shopping experience is unique and tailored to their preferences and needs.

And when AI just isn’t enough, tools like Endear’s own SalesChat have enabled real-time interactions between customers and product experts that can provide the virtual clienteling experience that turns online interactions into transactions. Technologies like SalesChat allow for immediate query resolution, personalized advice, and a human touch that was previously lacking in online shopping.

The integration of these technologies signifies a monumental shift in ecommerce, making virtual clienteling a compelling proposition for many retail brands. This is why virtual shopping represents the next frontier of ecommerce. As the line between online and offline continues to blur, virtual shopping stands out as a revolutionary approach that brings the best of both worlds to consumers and retailers alike.

And as the virtual shopping space continues to develop, Endear aims to be at the forefront with tools like SalesChat, Shoppable Stories, and more that enable clienteling from anywhere.

Tour Endear's suite of virtual shopping tools