To V, or not to V, that is the question.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, the news has been rather grim lately. Chain after chain has announced mass store closings as digital giants like Amazon have cornered the market share on low-cost-high-convenience purchases and home delivery. Business Insider recently reported that as many as 7,000 big-name stores will close this year.
For years e-commerce has taken the world by storm, re-writing everything we know about marketing. Nowadays you can’t go through two pages on the internet without stumbling across the option to buy something from a digital store. We’ve even come to depend on the presence of an omnipresent digital store to fulfill our daily needs (see Amazon’s grocery service).
It’s not so shocking, then, that the digital world of shopping has entered a new phase in its evolution: Virtual commerce.
Gone are the halcyon days of static product images next to a little shopping cart symbol. The internet wizards have cooked up another crazy idea – combine the experience of an actual store with the anywhere-accessibility of the internet.
Sometimes change can be scary. Don’t worry, though. We’re here to bring you four reasons you should become one with cyberspace and jump on the v-commerce train before it leaves the station – and two reasons you might want to sit this one out.
Go V Reason 1: Global Domination!
In all seriousness, though, v-commerce picked up where e-commerce left off when it comes to market reach. The internet is everywhere, all the time. If you’ve got products you want to sell and a large target market, v-commerce is a good idea. Not only are the storefronts more engaging (e.g., Alibaba’s Buy+) but seeing the product in a 3D space is a language that transcends all barriers. And now with the growth of mobile e-commerce, v-commerce is poised to make your reach nearly infinite.
Think you’re the next Steve Jobs? Have you created the new great invention that no one will be able to live without? V-commerce will help you get your product out there in a more interactive way.
Go V Reason 2: Your Imagination is Your Only Limit
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a freakin’ dragon attempt to sell you a new TV? What about if Taylor Swift appeared in your living room and told you some behind-the-scenes information as demos of her latest tracks played?
With v-commerce, all of this is possible.
The beauty of virtual reality is that you can program all sorts of cool things to show off your products. Set up live virtual demonstrations to help customers see how your product works. Give demos to show people how your product fits in the real world. As we discussed in an early blog post, IKEA has an app using augmented reality that does this perfectly.
With v-commerce, the possibilities are endless. We live in a world where you have all the tools at your fingertips to engage your consumers in a spectacular and memorable way. Whatever you can imagine, you can create.
Go V Reason 3: Personalize Marketing Like Never Before
The big thing now is data collection. From the moment you log on to the world wide web, companies are collecting information on your interests, likes and dislikes to create a marketing profile. This is used to serve you ads that better meet your needs and are more appealing to you. But until now, that’s where consumer targeting stopped.
With v-commerce, target marketing has been revolutionized once again. With the proliferation of personal assistants like Siri, Bixby, Google and Alexa, data can be collected well beyond the confines of cyberspace. In addition, initiating shopping has never been easier. People can search products, browse options, and make purchases all by issuing commands to integrated AI.
In the future, these digital helpers may even be able to pull up virtual storefronts. But if you don’t optimize your business for v-commerce, you miss your chance to become part of a growing trend – and the opportunity to snap up a share of the market.
Go V Reason 4: Automation
We mentioned how integrated AI is key to the operation of v-commerce markets. This is also a benefit to you.
V-commerce lets the algorithms and AI do the work for you. While it’s not entirely a set-it-and-forget it approach, v-commerce allows you to take it easy when it comes to selling your product.
V-commerce takes the window-shopping experience of a brick-and-mortar establishment and puts it online. However, there are very important differences between these virtual stores and actual stores. For starters, there’s no need for a store manager or sales associates or even call centers. The integrated AI handles all of those functions to deliver a sales experience that is flawless.
V-commerce is the ultimate route for cutting down on costs while maximizing profits.
No V Reason 1: Ceci n’est pas une pipe
If you’ve seen Rene Magritte’s famous “This is not a pipe” painting, you’re familiar with the idea that symbols or images are not the actual thing itself.
V-commerce is all well and good if you’re selling say, handbags or electronics. But the whole virtual store concept starts to fall apart when your business is predominantly service based.
While getting your haircut or having a suit tailored through the magic of virtual reality sounds super cool, we aren’t there yet. If you work in an industry that requires a more personal touch when dealing with customers, don’t be afraid to bow out of the v-commerce race.
While brick-and-mortar retail might be suffering, brick-and-mortar services are alive and well.
No V Reason 2: The Biggest of Ponds
It sucks being a little fish in a big pond. That’s why when you finally find your niche, you’re probably pretty reluctant to leave it.
Maybe you’re happy being a local business with a low geographic profile. Or maybe that’s really all you can afford to be right now.
If this is the case, v-commerce is not for you. As we mentioned before, v-commerce opens up the floodgates of global e-markets, and if you’re not prepared to handle them, you can quickly get overwhelmed.
Not every business needs to be a global superpower. Stick to your guns, and do what your business does best.
Still feeling a little out of your depth? No worries. Stealth Creative is at the forefront of marketing and advertising. If anyone knows whether it makes sense for you to go virtual, it’s us. Drop us a line today, and we’ll navigate the digital world together.
As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.