What if we could anticipate the future of retail? What if we could create engaging, immersive and easily accessible consumer experiences before the demand arrives? Both digitally and in real life?
At Store No 8, we’re incubating ideas that will transform the future of commerce. As futurists, we believe that virtual reality is the next frontier, but so much of that focus to date has been on gaming and entertainment. We’re curious to explore how the capabilities may be applied and transferred to retail. This Summer, we created Innov8: V-Commerce, an open call urging the global VR developer community to help us innovate this space. Last Wednesday, we celebrated the five winners at our Innov8 Gala — 8i, Obsess, Specular Theory, Nurulize and Fyusion — to showcase how millions of customers may shop in the future in virtual reality to leading brands and technology players including Chanel, Westfield, Parsons School of Design, Google Ventures, NEA, General Catalyst and Norwest Venture Partners.
Here are four ways VR is impacting the future of commerce today:
1. Reimagining merchandising
Today’s consumers deserve on-demand, immersive experiences of products. Through VR, they can realistically interact with the items from anywhere in the world, transforming merchandise into experiential content. At Innov8, 8i gave Bonobos consumers a realistic sense of shirt sizing and fabric movement by creating holograms of real models using volumetric video technology. While Obsess designed a virtual store with Rebecca Minkoff, and created a lifelike rendering of the brand’s fashion show allowing consumers to experience products as they would on the runway, IRL.
2. Enhancing the e-commerce experience
Traditionally, the e-commerce experience has been largely two-dimensional. Through VR, our team sees a future in which we can create dynamic, interactive, multidimensional e-commerce experiences that are unparalleled. This can be done through photorealistic 3D images of products, which Fyusion helped create with ModCloth, using on a smartphone, or experiences that provide meaningful social interactions — an element that’s absent from e-commerce today. Nurulize showcased Atom View technology which allows two people to explore virtual items with unprecedented detail and interaction, so they can make worthwhile connections even from different locations.
3. Allowing realistic product testing
With VR, consumers can “try before they buy” in the most realistic sense. Our Store No 8 team worked closely alongside Spatialand and Fishermen Labs to create two physical environments where consumers can actually test out the products they are buying. By allowing shoppers to pitch a tent at a campsite in Yosemite National Park, or cast fishing rods in the lakes and ocean environments they are designed for, VR gives consumers specialized situational experiences with the products so they have the utmost confidence in their purchase.
4. Anticipating consumer needs and establishing trust
Imagine a platform that prioritized consumers’ needs and found them trusted solutions — all while educating them in the process. Specular Theory created the previously unimaginable with FAB (short for Families and Babies): an immersive technology that educates parents about potential child safety hazards at home, then provides relevant product recommendations. It’s the first v-commerce platform to provide useful product experiences and lifestyle education while using VR, AR and Ai to build trusted relationships.
Innov8: V-Commerce was the first step in our journey, and we’re just getting started. Store No 8 will continue to push new frontiers and incubate, invest in, and partner with entrepreneurs, early stage start-ups, VCs and academics to innovate across other technologies. For now, with V-Commerce, we know the future is limitless.