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What are Virtual Stores?

A hot new trend in the retail space is that of virtual stores and showrooms. Virtual stores and showrooms are a revolutionary concept that focus on the customer experience. They recreate the in-store experience integrated with end-to-end e-commerce on digital channels like websites and store apps.

Perhaps the best innovation to come out of the pandemic lockdowns is the virtual store. People all over the world did embrace online shopping during the pandemic, but to keep the retail experience relevant, some brands like Ralph Lauren invested in creating online replicas of their offline stores - even the background music. They believed this would bring them back to the stores once the pandemic was over.

There are a lot of features that virtual stores score high on compared to plain old e-commerce. It uses visual imagery for segmentation. For example, different floors would indicate different departments, just like you would in a typical store. Unlike a typical e-commerce site that has scores of categories and products that frankly have become difficult to sort through to find the right product, virtual stores take the visual route with store displays that can indicate at a glance to the seasoned shopper where (s)he would find what (s)he needs. It makes use of the decades’ of experience that the retailer has in perfecting the store display.

So, virtual stores with the use of visual segmentation increase the ease of use and convenience, increase discoverability, offer high interactivity, and make online shopping a delightful experience. To top it all off, they build on the in-store experience rather than cannibalize it.

Plain old e-commerce stores pale in comparison to virtual stores, just like a mail catalog would in comparison to an in-store experience. Virtual stores offer end-to-end e-commerce capabilities. Once the customer finds the product they want to buy, they can add it to cart, pay in a secure environment and ship it to their address or even choose to pick from the store. Basically, all that you can do in an e-commerce store is possible in a virtual store, but it is just more delightful.

Some users of virtual stores still miss the human element of interaction and engagement. We at ShopConnect offer all the capabilities of a virtual store and also provide live video calls within the virtual store environment. We are perhaps the only technological platform to do both.

Find out more about ShopConnect’s virtual stores, virtual showrooms, and live video calling features.


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