Have you ever witnessed a virtual reality virgins’ reaction from trying VR for the first time? It usually consists of a ‘wow,’ (sometimes a squeal) or just pure delight. It is no wonder that Google, Nielsen and a whole host of researchers are finding conclusions from studies that Virtual Reality and 360 degree video have a direct, and significant impact on customer engagement. In comparison to standard 2D video, we are seeing not only a higher CTR, increased completed video views, but now also increased brand recall, and greater content recall.
This in itself is enough proof that VR is no longer a fad. However, VR is beginning to get even more interesting for brands… the technology is quickly maturing and is shaking up the way consumers shop and more importantly pay.
Taking payments one step further
Payments are constantly changing, and brands, merchants, and banks are having to respond quickly to rapid developments in technology and changes in consumers behaviour. Users are becoming familiar with one-click purchases online, and using NFC to pay in stores (whether this is their credit card, or Apple Pay) - transactions are no longer a chore, they are enjoyable and stress-free. When considering payments for a new medium, we need to think about a frictionless journey for the end user, making payments as seamless as possible. Less friction equals a higher likelihood that the user will transact more regularly. Virtual Reality has the opportunity to take payments one step further…imagine if you could pay for something by simply moving your head!
While VR payments are still very much in its infancy: the technology is quickly maturing, and there are a number of companies already trialing different methods - it will not be long until it is a widely accepted and used concept. It will be interesting to see who will own this payment space. Will it be the headset manufacturers, so that you have an account with Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, will it be the banks?
MasterCard made one of the first brave steps into VCommerce at PGA Tour, Golf event, at the beginning of 2016. Customers were able to identify items such as the shirt or shoes that Graeme McDowell was wearing, and buy it there and then.
Alibaba is already making headway in developing VR enabled mobile payment technology, that will allow users to pay bills in a 3D virtual world, by nodding their heads or making gestures to log into their accounts. This is promised to be launched in the next couple of months, so watch this space.
Elsewhere, payments processing giant Vantiv recently ran a hackathon, in which it opened its APIs to 800 developers to establish the practical application of payments in VR technology. The team that won the challenge, PayVR, built an Oculus Rift concept that transforms the typical in-store retail experience into an immersive 3D shopping world, where users can instantly purchase with a hand gesture or head nod.
VR as the happy medium for online shopping
85% of people have stressed the need to view and touch a product prior to purchasing it, and VR may be the solution to the main challenges from online shopping. People are time poor, and do not have time to shop in-store – virtual reality will be the happy medium. Virtual product displays have already proved to be popular with millennial customers, and with analytics such as eye tracking, we are open to a more easily personalised experience for customers.
The opportunity for immersive storytelling, the medium’s power to stir emotions in a new way, and now, more importantly, the ability to be able to view product demos and shop in a more entertaining way paves the way for a very powerful medium for brands. Gone are the days of trawling through boring flat 2D online catalogues – VR is going to fundamentally transform the shopping experience and in doing so lift sales for those retailers willing to get ahead of the curve.
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