4 Ways VR Technology Can Improve Customer Relationships and Deliver Business Results

Thought Leadership

By Apply Digital Staff | February 14, 2020
Person wearing VR Glasses

Virtual Reality (VR) is rapidly creating entirely new and incredibly effective avenues for businesses to engage customers, train their teams, collect data and — ultimately — boost their real-world profits.

VR is already a staple for many major brands, and this trend shows no sign of stopping. So why are the smartest brands making the switch to VR?

#1: VR cultivates stronger brand connections

In this global marketplace, consumers have their pick of specialty brands for everything from household electronics to gourmet groceries. So how is a brand to stand out?

Oreo harnessed VR to launch a branded experience surrounding the release of a new cupcake flavored cookie. This self-directed 3D exploration floats users through a fictional world of delicious chocolate buildings surrounding a river of sweet frosting. It also highlights the way this new flavor of cookie is made by following its construction layer by layer.

This novel marketing strategy gives businesses an impactful storytelling tool that’s about much more than just creating a lasting impression. Once the viewer puts on a VR headset, they become completely immersed in the virtual world and the brand elements contained within. It’s a personal experience, and one that cultivates a deep and lasting connection between the viewer and the brand. Other examples include Boursin Cheese and Givaudan.

#2: VR gives online shoppers a major confidence boost

Many eCommerce businesses are familiar with digital shopping carts that never quite make it to the final check-out stage.

This is indicative of a bigger difference dividing the online and brick-and-mortar store. Many consumers report that being able to physically touch and examine objects makes them feel more confident about making a purchase. A VR marketplace is an opportunity to extend a digital hand and offer online shoppers a similar experience.

Buy+ is one such platform transforming online shopping into a tactile experience by creating a realistic VR experience. Using a simple consumer VR headset, Buy+ transports customers to a number of large department stores around the globe. Once there, they can ‘walk’ around the store as they would in real life, pick up items and examine them in 3D, and then purchase what suits them best. The brainchild of China’s Alibaba Group, Buy+ is breaking new ground with online giants like Amazon treading close behind.

Another benefit of creating a digital shopping experience that looks and feels real is that shoppers are more likely to be happy with the product that arrives on their doorstep. This cuts down on the number of products being returned, making consumers more confident about future purchases, and lowering overall shipping and operation costs. Other examples of this are initiatives by Amazon, Shopify, and Under Armour.

Girl Using VR

#3: VR creates better ways to train employees

Given the immersive nature of VR, it’s a natural fit for businesses looking to provide cost-effective quality training for their team.

VR drops employees directly into high-pressure moments, giving them endless chances to practice new skills to perfection without any risk of real-world crises. But it’s about more than just learning specific pieces of knowledge. When a learner is placed in real-world settings, they’re more likely to master skills and behaviors more quickly. This approach also lowers training costs, making it possible to fine-tune the skills of a large group of employees at the same time while limiting the need for in-person trainers.

Linde is one such business. This industrial gas company is harnessing immersive VR tutorials to educate and train their operators. By creating digital replicas of physical spaces, Linde walks operators through the nuances of the workspace layout, critical equipment usages, and safety features — all before the actual plant is built. Walmart and NYPD are also leveraging VR for this purpose.

#4: VR collects digital data for better real-world solutions

Success is synonymous with solid, usable data. The digital VR ecosystem offers unprecedented data collection tools. Because every user’s actions are tracked, VR can capture concise data about the way people observe, navigate and interact with these virtual spaces. This valuable feedback can then be used to fine-tune real-world customer and employee experiences.

Kellogs has already put the data capturing the power of VR to work. This company sent test groups into VR grocery store environments and tracked the way their eyes scanned its simulated shelves. Then, they used this information to make decisions about how to present their products in real-world retail settings, leading to an 18% boost in sales.

On the other hand, when it comes to training employees, digital data can quickly translate to workplace safety. Imagine an employee navigating a virtual safety tutorial who is repeatedly looking towards their next step before completing their current task — behavior that would put them in danger in the real world. The VR headset can track their eye movements and then flag this behavior to the employee so that they can correct it during their next practice run.

Women Using VR

We’re just getting started

VR may be an emerging technology, but it’s already set a new standard for the way businesses connect to customers, grow their skill base, and collect data. With the price of VR headsets coming down each day, these accessories are becoming more commonplace in homes, businesses, and workplaces. In 2019, the VR market was valued at $11.5 billion. This number is expected to soar to $87.9 billion by 2025.

Currently, VR is situated at the cusp of massive growth, offering businesses that adopt this technology the opportunity to establish themselves as influencers and trail-blazers in both the virtual and real worlds. And like technology revolutions before, the real danger for businesses is missing out on the massive slice of the consumer audience and the growth potential of the increasingly popular VR space.

With endless opportunities for creativity and innovation, there’s really no limit to what VR can do for your business. It’s not if VR can help you, but what you choose to do with this incredible technology. To learn more about VR and see how you can harness it to create a lasting impression, please reach out to us at hello@applydigital.com.