Virtual reality is all the rage right now. Researchers predict there will be almost 140 million VR headsets in use by 2025, of which, 90 percent will be mobile. Mastering the concept of virtual reality may seem daunting, but the truth is, entrepreneurs and startup founders are already implementing online marketing tactics that pave the way for an easy adoption of the technology.
Today, businesses online offer interesting content, engage on social media channels and reach customers through targeted marketing. Turns out the fundamentals of running a business successfully online in a world dominated by virtual reality will likely remain the same.
In our 2D world, companies brand themselves online with a name, logo, colors and fonts on a website or social media page. But in the near future, a consumer’s experience with an online business will be a fully immersive one. From the comfort of their home, consumers will be able to virtually test or try on products, communicate with store owners and order services by simply putting on a headset. Companies ahead of the curve are already jumping on this opportunity. In 2016, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced plans to incorporate VR technology into its online shopping experience. Its more than 400 million customers will soon be able to buy and test products while experiencing virtual simulations of physical storefronts.
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Highly-targeted marketing has blown up in recent years due to technological innovation. Today, businesses on Facebook can get as specific as targeting consumers via their life events, recent purchasing behavior, political affiliations and more. Stitch Fix, for example, is personalizing its customers’ experiences via constantly improving algorithms. With each purchase a Stitch Fix customer makes, the algorithm gets smarter about the individual, and combined with the work of a Stitch Fix stylist, the company ships articles of clothing according to the individual’s tastes. In a virtual reality-dominated world, consumers will be able to walk down aisles with products curated specifically for them. Online business storefronts will be presented differently depending on a customer’s likes and dislikes, color preferences and music tastes.
Immediacy of information
Developers are continuing to reduce the friction of information flow between consumers and startups. A business’s online presence started as a static website, showcasing images and information, but providing little in the way of direct communication. As time progressed, they became more dynamic, allowing consumers to contact and engage with business owners directly from the website. Presently, site visitors can communicate with store owners through a variety of means: live chat, SMS or even Facebook Messenger. Facebook, for example, is pushing chatbots to communicate with consumers even when the owner isn’t around. As virtual reality becomes universal, consumers will be able to put a headset on and immediately talk to the store owner, or a holographic chatbot who looks like an owner or an employee. Barriers to information are broken down, and consumers have immediate access to employees and customer service representatives, both real and virtual.
Why does this matter to entrepreneurs?
Although the virtual reality storefront may seem light years away, larger businesses are already testing the waters. Entrepreneurs and small business owners should consider whether becoming an early adopter of the technology may be a viable marketing solution for their business. Startups that successfully represent themselves online, and connect with customers through responsive customer service and visually engaging content, will be better equipped to succeed in the VR-dominated future coming down the tracks.