Virtual shopping time

Do you often shop online? Well, I don’t because I am still hesitant to buy clothes, shoes or jewelry online. I rather shop in the city where I can see, feel and try on the products. When shopping online, there is a high chance that the clothes or shoes will not fit, or even that the clothes or shoes are not that beautiful when you receive them. However, I know enough people who regularly shop online and there are millions other people who do like online shopping. Because of this,  the online shopping environment has been innovating and will continue doing this to attract even more consumers to this market.

However, there is a challenge for retailers to make online shopping a more enjoyable, effective and profitable. Like I mentioned earlier, the online shopping environment is different from traditional shopping because it is a virtual environment, where you cannot see or try on the garment in real life. Most consumers are hesitant to purchase garments online or are unsatisfied with their online shopping experience, which results into high return rates. The most important reason for this is because many online retail stores lack product information (Tokucin, 2013). Online retailers try their best and keep updating their tools to help consumers during their visit to make it more enjoyable for the consumers, and in turn profitable for the retailers. They even introduced a Virtual-Try-On. Virtual try-on applications have become popular because they allow users to watch themselves wearing different clothes. This helps users to make quick buying decisions and, thus, improves the sales efficiency of retailers (Hauswiesner et al, 2013: 1552). The purpose of a Virtual-Try-On is to serve consumers with better information that is similar to physical examination. As a result, the consumer will be more confident in their final purchasing decision and the probability of consumers returning clothing will decrease (Tokucin, 2013).  .

They are also applying this tool in other branches, such as the watch market. They even developed an application for your smartphone to try on watches. By adjusting a so called Mode in Motion bracelet to your wrist and pointing the camera to it, you can see the watch appear on your wrist as in real.

What do you think of the concept Virtual-Try-On? Does it come close enough to reality, and if you did not like online shopping, are you convinced now to buy more products online if this tool is provided?

Hauswiesner, S., Straka, M. & Reitmayr, G. (2013) ‘Virtual Try-On through Image-Based Rendering’, IEEE Transactions On Visualization And Computer Graphics, 19, 9: pp. 1552

Tokuçin, H. (2013) ‘Virtual Try-On Technology’, 16 August 2013



3 responses to “Virtual shopping time”

  1. bweur says :

    I believe that the distance-related problems that firms try to minimize through those virtual try-on applications that you mentioned really made a difference in the customer experience in the eCommerce market.
    However, there still remain other important factors that convince people to buy their products in a physical store rather than on the Internet. One factor that I would add because it highly influences whether or not people end up buying clothes or watches or anything else online is the fact that online shops show high delivery-related problems. While physical shops enable customers to immediately satisfy their needs since they have immediate access to the good or service, when buying things in a digital market place, the consumer already spends money, he does, however, not have access to the good until it is actually delivered to his home. This delay of need satisfaction can highly influence consumers in their decision to buy online. Closely related are also the costs, that may arise through the delivery process. Consumers are often faced with unexpected shipping cost when in the final steps of their order, often leading to consumers abandoning their order in the end. Those delivery-related problems account for 68% of people abandoning their digital shopping carts before finalization of the order (1).

    A lot of company’s have realized these delivery-related problems and are trying to cut costs and shorten the shipping time. Amazon, for example, introduced its Prime service a couple o years ago, where delivery is free of charge and delivery time is reduced to one day (or even same day delivery in certain areas) (2).

    Nevertheless, waiting times will continue to exist for customers in eCommerce and firms will need to find a way to further optimize their delivery processes so that customers will not perceive this as the biggest obstacle in eCommerce anymore.


  2. Martin A. K. says :

    Interesting article. I think the concept of ‘virtual-try-on’ will grow and dominate the online retail experience, especially for shoes, clothes and jewellery. Currently, I mostly buy electronics and small items online. Things where I know exactly what I am getting. It is the uncertainty that keeps many customers away, I think. Virtaul-try-on tools should overcome this fear. I am especially thinking about projects such as Google’s project Tango and the Microsoft HoloLens. I think these are revolutionary technologies that, once present in every household, can dramatically decrease the fear of shopping online. It might sound scary – but I think the future will play more on screens than outside on the streets!

    Whether I think this is good or not is another question. I think it is always good to set yourself ‘digital-limits’. Times where you step away from a digital alternative and go the analogue way. What do you think? Is it good that everything is moving digital (especially once the point in time comes where you won’t be able to set apart the ‘real’ world versus the ‘digital’ world)?

  3. 420914mp says :

    Interesting post. I myself sometimes shop online, but it is true that there is a high risk that the clothes will not fit or that the material isn’t what you expected it to be. Luckily most webshops offer that you can send the clothes back if you don’t like them and you will get your money back. this already somewhat decreases the risk. Creating a virtual shopping environment is a fun idea and it does gives more the feeling of real life shopping, but I doubt that it will significantly increase online sales. Not being able to see the items on you is only one of the reason why people don’t buy online. Virtually trying it might help, but you still don’t know for sure whether the garment or accessoire will really look good in real life. Reasons why people don’t shop online include fear to give credit card information or personal information, no help from a salesperson, the shipping might go wrong, if you don’t like it your stuck with it. Virtual shopping might create a fun experience, and can attract more people to your website, but things that can actually reduce the fears are safe payment system, good tracking order system, competitive return policy, good quality photo’s and video’s, customer reviews…

    What I do believe is that virtual shopping can be very useful for marketing research. The marketer can create the atmosphere of an actual retail store on a computer screen to test the behaviour of the customer and things like purchase intent, pick up rate, shelf stand out, etc. All these things a very useful when a company wants to enter a new market, create a new product, changes its packaging, and so on.

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