The rise of e-commerce has led to a proliferation of virtual stores, and retailers are finding it more and more challenging to get a share of online shoppers’ eyeballs – and wallets – in an increasingly crowded space. While static websites that feature boxy clickable pictures and offer a little product information have become the standard look of e-commerce channels, a virtual showroom that gamifies the online shopping experience has been gaining attention.
Wilcon Depot, the Philippines’ top home improvement retailer, has been reaping awards for its latest showcase, the VR Store Experience. Accessible on Wilcon’s official website (www.wilcon.com.ph), the one-year-old tool is stirring up internet retailing by providing an interactive and immersive shopping experience in a digital environment that is easily navigable.
The showroom lets visitors “walk” around the virtual replica of Wilcon Depot’s biggest outlet, Wilcon Depot Balintawak. At the click of the mouse in the comfort of their homes, they can get a panoramic view of the entire store area, browse products that are arranged to help customers envision how these would look in their houses, zoom in and out to inspect the materials of the products, and get detailed information on the items.
Like a brick and mortar store, the virtual showroom is sectioned according to product type and brand. Shoppers can head to areas allocated for DIY, home living, outdoor living, and tiles and sanitary ware, among others. Showrooms, meanwhile, display a selection of products under Wilcon’s house brands. An area called the “combined showroom” has vignettes that suggest different ways of setting up the products and fixtures in the home.
“We came up with this idea because we understand how virtual reality technology is becoming increasingly popular in the industry. It really improves customer engagement and transforms how customers shop,” Rosemarie Bosch-Ong, Wilcon chief operating officer, said in a video interview done in partnership with Retail Asia. The trade publication gave the VR Store Experience the Digital Initiative of the Year Award for the Philippines at the Retail Asia Awards 2023.
“We recognize that VR will help elevate the customer shopping journey and provide exceptional customer experience, allowing them to visualise and explore the different products that we have in a more personalised and realistic way,” Bosch-Ong added.