We are on the brink of a virtual reality-filled future and it’s going to change everything – from the way we shop to the way we interact with one another. What was once an enigmatic market has suddenly exploded into an increasingly mainstream technological advancement, one that IDC experts are expecting to grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to nearly $162 billion by 2020 (a 181% compound annual growth rate). We have already seen glimpses of the widespread use of virtual and augmented reality with Pokémon GO – which currently has over 35 million players – and it appears that we have just broken the surface in terms of innovation.
As virtual reality becomes more prevalent in both a business and personal setting, less expensive equipment is becoming more obtainable. This increased accessibility provides a ripe opportunity for organizations to adopt the technology at a wider scale and to improve areas of operation like training, marketing and sales. From standard corporate offices to the real estate market, here are the industries that stand to experience the biggest impact from virtual reality:
Virtual reality serves as a cost effective solution to streamline a variety of outdated business operations. As businesses are becoming more global, communication amongst cross-office teams poses a real challenge. Issues such as video call quality, connection inefficiencies, or a lack in ability to provide an equally immersive demonstration can arise, and there always seems to be at least one missing element. Virtual reality has the capability to provide a more “real” experience, one where all participants can be seated around a virtual table where they’re able to interact “face-to-face”.
Virtual reality benefits don’t stop at communication. Inefficient, time-consuming tasks – like interviewing candidates and employee orientation – can be much more streamlined and significantly less expensive through the use of this technology. For example, multiple engineers from all over the globe can be trained at the same time about a new piece of equipment through an interactive, 3D tutorial.
When it comes to marketing strategies, companies are always looking for the next big thing to set themselves apart and get a leg up on the competition. Through virtual reality, businesses are now able to offer consumers and clients a completely unparalleled experience of their products – one that’s interactive and capable of modification in real-time.
When looking at virtual reality’s impact on the retail industry, the phrase “try before you buy” will now be a feasible concept under every circumstance. Whether shopping for a new dress or sofa, there is always a comprehensive visualization breakdown throughout each step of the buyer’s journey. Online retailers will be able to offer fully immersive, interactive shopping experiences for consumers with virtual reality headsets. Imagine running across a shirt online, being able to virtualize it, and see what it “actually” looks like on you before purchasing – realistically, we’d be much less likely to abandon our shopping carts if this was the case.
While the number of personal virtual reality users may currently seem like a small percentage, a recent report from Statista noted that the number of active users will reach 171 million by 2018, making this a very powerful resource for ecommerce in the near future. And in an ecommerce environment where just 4 percent of online shoppers lead to conversions, virtual reality could be the necessary spark for the retail industry. Through these innovations, buyer remorse could be a thing of the past, leading to happier brands and consumers.
The real estate industry possibly stands to see the biggest transformation from virtual reality. Going back to the visualization issue, when house hunters are shopping for a new home, it can be extremely difficult to picture what it would look like once they have moved in with their own furniture (instead of the perfectly staged show pieces). Virtual reality is already providing consumers with the ability to virtually stage a home with 3D-generated furniture. This allows users to put their own unique spin on the space and better understand what it would be like living there.
On the other end of the spectrum, real estate agents will be able to better market their properties and specifically stage homes to meet prospective buyers’ unique preferences. For example, if a college graduate and newly married couple are looking at the same one-bedroom apartment, the real estate agent can virtually stage the apartment with two completely different layouts to better appeal to each buyer. Additionally, instead of physically visiting 10-15 properties for each home shopper, they can bring each space up online and give virtual tours, providing the same immersive experience that would be experienced onsite.
Technological advancements have been constantly changing the way we operate since the beginning of time. In the case of virtual reality, this is a fast-moving train that’s bound to transform the way we navigate our personal and professional lives. Companies and industries that get onboard now, and have the foresight to adapt, are the ones most likely to succeed down the line. While change can be intimidating, getting outside of a comfort zone to test new, revolutionary products can, and will, reap positive results.
Pieter Aarts is the co-founder and CEO of roOomy, the world’s leading 3D VR/AR technology company in the interior decorating space. He has over 25 years of diverse industry experience in virtual reality, ecommerce, 3D, mobile, and SaaS.
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