Virtual reality (VR) in e-commerce

Virtual reality (VR) could be a key in bridging the gap between digital and real shopping experiences for online shops. A research team headed by Christine Vallaster from the business administration degree program supports companies on their way towards a virtual online store.

Online shopping is convenient, saves time, and is available around the clock. But shopping from the sofa has a catch: Customers want to be able to try out the products they buy. Virtual reality could offer a solution here. VR glasses are getting cheaper and cheaper, and will soon be found in many households. They can help customers virtually move through online shops, and rummage around in a real shop while trying out products. “While large companies are already using VR in marketing, the majority of SMEs have not had much experience with it. And it’s not yet clear whether the technology actually plays the far-reaching role that the hype is currently making us think” explains Arno Kinzinger from the degree program in business administration.

In an interdisciplinary research project with the study programs MultiMediaTechnology as well as wood technology and wood construction, the Salzburger investigates the possibilities of optimally integrating VR into the internet sales process. The project is aimed at entrepreneurs who ask themselves: Is the development of a VR shop worth it for my company? Are my products suitable for presentation in VR? And are my customers going to even be interested in a VR shop? The results of a first study with furniture and kitchen appliances are certainly promising. The surveyed test persons showed a clearly higher desire to buy in the VR shop compared to shops with product presentations in 2D or 3D.

The research project “Digitalization in SMEs: Optimization of Online Sales by Virtual Reality (VR)” is being funded by the Austrian state of Salzburg for a period of two years.