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What is a Virtual Store?

Ecommerce is growing at a rapid pace and shows no signs of slowing down. With almost every brand now offering online shopping, consumers are switching to a more convenient and accessible way of purchasing products. 

Research has predicted that by 2023, ecommerce will make up 22% of global retail sales. This figure is expected to rise further as the latest technological developments make online shopping harder to resist and more convenient than ever.

Recent advances in the world of ecommerce are already blowing traditional online stores out of the water. One such example is the phenomenon of the virtual store: a high-tech, digital answer to the personal experience consumers enjoy from a physical retail location.

The Virtual Store: How does it work?

A virtual store takes the full browsing experience you’d expect from a real shop and makes it digital. The result is an online store that consumers can explore just as they would in real life but from the comfort of their own homes.

Virtual stores can be set up for brands across a range of industries and there are a number of different ways brands choose to implement them.

Some may opt for a virtual reality store in which consumers can immerse themselves using their own VR headsets.

Outside of using VR, brands can provide access to virtual stores through their mobile app or website. In some cases, brands design a 3D store that looks exactly like their flagship retail store but that can be accessed from an app. In other cases, brands take their physical retail experience and make them virtual, bringing personalization and real-time interaction with associates to the customer.

With solutions such as HERO®, brands can create more personal virtual store experiences by allowing customers to connect with in-store associates instantly. Customers can browse the catalog of products directly through a retailer’s ecommerce website and use video, text, and chat to see the products as they actually are on store shelves through real-time access to in-store associates.

What is the point of a Virtual Store?

A virtual store seeks to enhance the customer experience offered by typical ecommerce sites and can be highly effective for retailers looking to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Having a virtual store lets shoppers recreate the in-store experience in their own home, by allowing them to interact with products and sales advisors in real time, ask any questions they might have, and gather tailored recommendations and advice.

HERO® is behind today’s most effective virtual stores, powering a seamless virtual shopping experience. With HERO®, brands are ultimately benefiting from an all-in-one solution to bring their virtual store to life. HERO® gives ecommerce customers the chance to experience the same level of service, engagement, and personalization as an in-person interaction by providing online customers with instant connection to their favorite physical stores. 

With the chance to connect with sales advisors at the touch of a button, customers are no longer left on hold waiting to ask a question. This is incredibly important if a store is seeking to maximize sales.

A virtual store offers something different, and the most impressive examples will quickly inspire consumers and get them talking. Word of mouth remains a hugely powerful sales tool. Recent estimates suggest that word of mouth recommendations account for $6 trillion of annual consumer spending and 13% of all consumer sales.

The Benefits of a Virtual Store over Traditional Ecommerce:

Convenience

A virtual store offers convenience. Consumers sometimes feel that a traditional ecommerce store doesn’t quite provide everything they’re looking for. In these cases, they ordinarily have no option but to visit a real store. But with HERO®-powered virtual stores, consumers save the time and hassle, and can digitally access an in-store experience from the comfort of home. 

Interactivity

The interactive nature of virtual stores helps to keep consumers’ attention with a fully immersive online shopping experience. Brands can add live video and chat features to their apps and ecommerce sites and give customers a direct connection to in-store associates, allowing them to ask questions, learn more about services on offer, and be inspired by product recommendations that are tailored to their exact needs. 

Engagement

Virtual stores provide endless opportunities for engagement and this engagement helps drive conversions. Using virtual store features on apps or ecommerce websites, consumers can see products in-person using live video links and then discuss them with retail assistants via live chat options. Brands also have new opportunities to impress by offering first-rate customer service. Consumers respond to this by boosting sales.

Next-Level Customer Experience

Customer experience is crucial for ecommerce brands. With competition growing fiercer by the day, companies are having to do more to secure their position as their customers’ go-to company. With HERO® clienteling and virtual store features, customers are given a highly-personalized experience in real-time through online channels. In this way, virtual stores offer a golden opportunity for brands wanting to improve the experience they offer and enhance their reputation.

Virtual stores are the next big thing in ecommerce. Offering endless new opportunities for brands to present their goods to customers—the digital take on a real shopping experience is set to be huge. Virtual stores offer brands the chance to rapidly improve engagement and enhance the experience customers enjoy while shopping.

About HERO®

HERO® is the #1 virtual shopping app for stores, powering Nike, Levi’s, Deciem, rag & bone, UNTUCKit, and more. Our technology makes it effortless to text, chat, and video call with customers—growing ecommerce sales while converting online visitors into offline customers.

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