The Virtual Shopping Experience: using virtual presence to motivate online shopping
Keywords:virtual shopping, virtual presence, ecommerce
AbstractOnline shopping has thus far tended to be a niche business – highly successful in selling digital products such as shares, software and, increasingly, music and films, it has been less successful in persuading the purchasers of ‘traditional’ goods such as cars, clothes, toiletries, or household appliances to forsake their physical retailers and move into cyberspace. In this wide-ranging review paper we investigate the issue of the virtual experience – endeavouring to understand what is needed for a successful ‘shopping experience’ online and what the possible obstacles or pitfalls along the way might be. We initially introduce the concepts of virtual presence (the sense of ‘being there’) and virtual reality, discussing the possible roles both can play in providing a solution to the problem of effective online shopping. We then consider the Experience Economy, a concept which encapsulates many of the issues related to the problem of online shopping and which suggests ways in which online retailers can enhance the effectiveness of their sites by means of a virtual ‘experience’. Having set the scene for online shopping, we discuss eTailing today in terms of direct product experience and the opportunities which cyber-shopping offers to replicate this process. Finally, we identify some of the possibilities and problems of online shopping today, illustrating the current status of virtual presence in retailing with two micro-cases of success and failure.
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