The role of VR in eCommerce

Table of Contents
A woman using a VR headset

Nowadays, customers are already quite sophisticated in digital shopping. While vendors are seeking new ways to amuse, entertain their buyers, and give them something more. VR technology is capable of presenting fully new shopping paradigms. This article reveals the concept of VR in the eCommerce industry, its benefits, use cases, and challenges.

The global VR market size is projected to reach over $22 billion by 2025. A significant piece of the pie belongs to the eCommerce industry. The growth is driven by technology advancements, changes in purchasing behavior, and benefits that vendors may potentially obtain.

Understanding VR in eCommerce

Virtual reality in eCommerce is a technology that sets up an advanced shopping experience in digital environments. This innovative approach allows consumers to experience various goods more engagingly and realistically. Besides realistic simulation of the physical shop, VR can be part of interactive marketing campaigns, immersive product demonstrations, virtual activities, and other use cases.

Key components of VR in eCommerce

  • VR hardware comprises special headsets and controllers. They assist users in diving into virtual environments and taking action. Headsets have high-resolution screens and motion sensors to track the head movements. It creates a visual experience that feels realistic. Handheld controllers track hand gestures. Users can pick up, move, and manipulate virtual objects like in the actual world.

    A woman in a virtual reality glasses
  • VR software is the foundation of the VR experience. It is responsible for creating all virtual spaces that users see. Developers build 3D landscapes, entities, and characters using specialized tools and programming languages. The software renders elements in real time, constantly updating the visuals based on user interactions.

  • 3D assets are high-quality 3D models of items. Realistic visualization isn’t possible without them. The lifelike model combines the item characteristics and environment parameters. These are textures, colors, and materials accompanied by lighting, reflections, and shadows.

Full immersion would not be possible without VR hardware. However, vendors are facing some limitations in achieving this goal. Not all users can access headsets and controllers. Furthermore, the introduction of hardware requires heavy investments from the business. More accessible VR experiences can be delivered through standard web browsers and mobile apps using VR software. If vendors have such opportunities, consider a hybrid approach using both options.

Benefits of using VR in eCommerce

VR technology brings multiple advantages to eCommerce transitioning digital purchases to a new level. With its aid, vendors may offer a thrilling experience to visitors. Here is a breakdown of the major advantages of virtual reality in eCommerce:

Greater customer engagement

VR creates immersive environments that engage the customer's senses. The shopping experience becomes more captivating and enjoyable than a standard online one. Engrossed in virtual worlds, consumers are more likely to spend more time browsing digital stores and exploring items. They can deeply interact with items experiencing them in a simulated real-world context. And if available, a real-time customization option enables adjusting colors, sizes, and features and provides immediate results. These opportunities lead to a potential increase in the cost of the shopping cart.

Deeper product visualization

VR utilizes high-fidelity 3D visuals of goods that visitors can view and manipulate from all sides. It gives a comprehensive insight into dimensions, materials, and features. Moreover, they can virtually try on some types of items like clothes, accessories, and cosmetics. It helps to see how these items will look and suit them personally. Another option is in-situ placement when furniture or home decor can be located in a virtual room. It shows how items will integrate into customers' own space. All this increases confidence in shopping decisions.

A woman is looking at a virtual store

Greater confidence and higher sales

The significant pain points for all vendors are the abandonment of carts and returns of goods. Due to realistic simulation, “virtual try-before-you-buy” consumers can feel more confident and make more reasonable decisions. As they see products in all details, fit, and feel them. It’s a well-founded motivation to complete purchases. VR experience leads to fewer discrepancies between expectations and reality. Thereby reducing the rates of returns and exchanges and eventually increasing overall sales volumes.

Sustainable sales

Virtual try-ons and 3D product previews significantly reduce the need for physical samples and prototypes, thereby cutting down on waste and the environmental impact associated with production. Additionally, hosting virtual showrooms eliminates the necessity for physical retail space and materials. This shift contributes to more sustainable business practices by reducing the carbon footprint inherent in traditional retail operations. By embracing these virtual technologies, businesses can promote environmental sustainability. And at the same time also benefit from cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Real-life examples of virtual reality in digital shopping

VR offers several applications for the eCommerce industry. They have different functionality but are all unified by the same concept. It is the creation of immersive, interactive, and engaging experiences for all. Many well-known eCommerce brands have already successfully integrated the technology into their selling strategies.

From physical to virtual showrooms

Virtual showrooms mimic the experience of visiting a physical shop. Consumers browse and interact with items in 3D virtual environments. They may study the product in detail from all sides, its functions, and different configurations if available. In this case, technology pushes the boundaries. Anyone from all over the world can visit the showroom. Moreover, VR enables social shopping experiences where customers can shop with friends or family virtually, sharing their experiences in real-time. At the same time, all participants can be in different places.

To further extend the experience, vendors might add an option to customize and personalize items. It is when consumers tailor products to their preferences. IKEA has developed an interactive VR application. It allows users to design and explore their dream kitchen. They can choose different kitchen layouts, materials, and finishes and then see the kitchen in a fully immersive 3D environment.

A woman using a virtual reality headset to explore a house

Lowe’s has introduced a special space called “how-to”. It is a VR platform that helps users learn how to complete home improvement projects. Using VR headsets, they may participate in interactive tutorials on various DIY tasks, such as tiling a bathroom or installing a backsplash. Training helps them to complete tasks more efficiently in life.

Virtual “before-you-buy” try-ons

Virtual try-ons utilize VR technology to show products right on the consumers' bodies and faces. This solves an essential problem of digital shopping. When it is difficult for customers to imagine how the product will fit them without trying, this option applies well to sizes, colors, styles, and other parameters. And as a result more confidence and fewer returns.

Sephora has demonstrated the use case with their virtual artist app. Users can test any makeup virtually. Various remedies like lipstick, eyeshadow, and blush on their faces right at the moment. Consumers can try all the lines and choose the one that fits most to the type of look and style.

Nike has extended their app with a VR-powered feature. Users can scan their feet using a smartphone camera.

Immersive product demonstrations

VR can be used to create detailed product demonstrations, showing how products work, their features, and benefits in a virtual space. It provides a deeper experience than traditional videos. For example, demonstrating complex or high-tech goods during exhibitions or shows. Another use case is virtual tours of areas like real estate properties, hotels, or even industrial facilities. Visitors get a realistic sense of space and layout, without coming to the location physically. It saves time and travel costs for the audience.

Virtual events for brand engagement

Companies can hold virtual activities like new product presentations and fashion shows in a VR environment. This format enables consumers to attend the event from anywhere in the world, providing a wider coverage. Brands don’t bear costs for physical event venues, logistics, and travel. During such eventsIn addition visitors can also interact with each other. For example, Q&A sessions and communication in a community of like-minded people.

The virtual event also enables real-time interaction among visitors like Tommy Hilfiger, a fashion brand company, has implemented VR technology for creating virtual fashion shows. With VR headsets in-store or at home, consumers have the opportunity to watch runway shows in a fully immersive environment. It’s a unique way to showcase new collections and enhance brand involvement.

A woman trying on virtual clothes

Challenges of VR in eCommerce

While VR offers numerous benefits to eCommerce, its adoption and implementation come with several challenges. Understanding these challenges is crucial for businesses considering integrating VR into their digital transformation strategies.

  • High initial investment into software development, hardware, and necessary infrastructure to support VR content. But this is an investment with a return. Due to its capabilities, technology creates new opportunities for revenue growth and cost savings. For example, it is bringing to life complex and expensive products through VR demonstrations, using virtual showrooms instead of maintaining physical retail spaces, and training employees on new products, customer service protocols, and other important skills.
  • User adoption and accessibility fall under limitations. The number of consumers with their own headsets is low. Moreover, some users may feel uncomfortable and experience motion sickness while using VR. If we talk about the mobile VR experience, it may not work on all devices and require a reliable internet connection.
  • Content creation requires time and expertise. At least it's working on 3D models, animation, and UX designs. And do all this for a wide range of products. Moreover, maintaining and updating VR content is a considerable ongoing effort for vendors.

Strategic planning and thoughtful execution have the power to overcome these obstacles efficiently. You can always start small and test VR. For example, try out only one product line or use case. Existing VR platforms and tools help to reduce development costs. They offer robust development frameworks with reusable assets. The vendor may select to develop mobile VR setups and web-based VR, which require less powerful hardware and are accessible on a wide range of devices.


3D Source can craft lifelike and thorough 3D assets for various clients’ virtual environments empowering them to deliver a seamless immersion experience. With our 3D product configurator, each model meets the standards of top quality and realism. All models can be integrated into eCommerce platforms, staying accessible and interactive across multiple devices. 3D Source helps businesses build engaging and effective virtual spaces that drive growth and improve the consumers' journey. Drop us a line, and we prepare a demo for your interest.

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