2018 will be the year of excellent customer experiences. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will, through immersive and high-value shopping experiences, play a large role in this new chapter. According to Gartner, the focus in the next five years will be on a mixed reality. Since the physical world and online world are beginning to merge, not only in private but at work too, a bridge between them makes a lot of sense.
Many products and services can only be, to a certain extent, translated into the digital world of the internet. Customers would like to touch, try on, smell, and feel before making a purchase decision. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality bring customers the shopping experience to their home, as well as in showrooms and physical stores.
There are already many devices with VR and AR features built in like head mounted displays and the iPhone X. A prerequisite for more of such devices to be accepted on the market is having these features built in more new mobile devices, which is expected to occur in 2018. In this context, new apps are being developed. In fact, Ikea has already launched its augmented reality app Places for iOS in the US, and other companies are sure to join in with similar products.
AirBnB: Immersive and connected thanks to AR and VR
The second prerequisite is the addition of immersive shopping experiences through powerful and meaningful stories and other content. AirBnB wants to use VR and AR technology to bring better experiences to travelers. Since, before and during vacations, problems could therefore be solved with this technology.
For example, 3D could give you a vivid and real feel of the potential accommodations before finalising a booking. In addition, AirBnB could provide a virtual reality platform that allows travelers to explore potential destinations and plan vacation travel remotely.
AirBnB has also stated that augmented reality can become a real-time translation tool. For example, users could open the app and see explanations of the objects around them, in their own language. Or it could help them retrieve information and historical information about the objects and places around them.
It is said that these technologies de-socialise and isolate people, but AirBnB’s idea is just the opposite: Getting the most out of VR and AR to connect people from all over the world and from different backgrounds more and more. Travel experiences become more immersive, deeper, and inspiring so that users can make better decisions remotely and get a real and valuable view of reality.
The fact is, if an innovative and disruptive company like AirBnB wants to bring the user experience up to date, we should keep an eye on it.
Ikea and Saturn are other companies that want to use VR or AR to enhance the omnichannel shopping experience.
The message is clear: In order to prevail in the competition, it requires excellent digital user experiences.
What is certain, however, is that technology alone is not enough. Innovation culture, work environment, and attitude are just as important to operate successfully in the digital business.