[Etude] Immersive technologies, an opportunity for the commerce of tomorrow

The Covid-19 has redistributed a number of cards in retail, and we note in particular a very significant amplification of the e-commerce trend with unprecedented peaks in online purchases. Closed when they are not considered essential, stores lose in this context their central role in the purchasing process, whereas until now they have concentrated the majority. Open stores, for their part, are being neglected by consumers who wish to limit their social interactions.

However, online shopping is not always satisfactory. “One of the key aspects of the in-store experience has yet to be replicated by e-commerce, analyzes a report published by Accenture Interactive. In-store, consumers can touch and try on products before purchasing them. These interactions help people check the quality, craftsmanship, dimensions and finishes to know if a product meets their needs and expectations. They provide the control, transparency and tangibility that builds trust and drives purchasing“.

Getting closer to the truth of the product

In this context, Accenture Interactive focused more particularly on immersive technologies, which can partially respond to these problems, admittedly not really new but which have accelerated following the health crisis. The consulting firm interviewed between March 23 and 30 more than 3,000 consumers (United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific) – including 200 in France. He wanted to know their feelings after a shopping experience in which an immersive technology took place (virtual reality or augmented reality, 360 ° video or 3D content).

First lesson of this report entitled “Try It. Trust It. Buy It.“, published this month of November: in the last 6 months, nearly half of French respondents had the opportunity to test one of these technologies for purchases in food, beverages, consumer products and electronics The first advantage cited by the people questioned is the possibility of seeing the product without going to the store, and thus getting closer to the truth of the product Other benefits: testing the capabilities of the product or even personalizing it.

Confidence and branding

There are many use cases, such as the possibility of viewing a piece of furniture or a household appliance in its environment., analysis Stéphanie Lafontaine, Managing Director of Accenture Interactive. This is offered for example by Ikea, Cdiscount or even Velux and its MyDaylight application, which allows you to visualize at home the installation of a Velux and simulate the effects, such as light, that it will provide.“.

Another limitation of online commerce is the lack of “physical and human connection“, pointed out by 32% of respondents in France. However, they are 39% to consider that the use of immersive technologies makes it possible to alleviate this feeling.”Augmented and virtual reality and 3D content can boost consumer confidence in shopping and increase online sales“, summarizes one at Accenture Intercative. Who says increase in purchases also says confidence and decrease in product returns.

By breaking down a number of barriers, immersive technologies can improve the impact of e-commerce. While 47% of respondents believe that the product purchased online in a standard way meets their expectations, satisfaction gains 3 points when an immersive experience is offered.

Another benefit pointed out by the study is the positive impact of this type of innovation in terms of brand image. 45% of respondents say they are likely to buy more from brands that offer interactions or reviews of products and services using immersive technologies. And 45% of them believe they think more about brands that communicate regularly thanks to these technologies. “We see that these technologies are necessary to engage the customer“, insists Stéphanie Lafontaine.

brakes on the customer side and on the brand side

The study is also an opportunity to give a brief update on today’s deployments. Because in view of the verdict given by those questioned, the margin is still large. If 64% of major consumer brands are starting to invest according to Accenture Interactive, we are still far from a large-scale deployment, and technological maturity is not yet there, especially in France, where the costs of certain solutions remain high.

The finding is reflected in the responses of the consumers questioned. In addition to certain points of friction raised such as download time, lack of user-friendliness or dysfunctions, respondents are only 43% to recommend a brand using these technologies. For 27% of respondents, it is no, and more than a third do not speak.

There is progress to be made in omnichannel and experience, which is not seamless for example when the user switches from a computer to a mobile phone“, notes Stéphanie Lafontaine, who also notes”generational brakes on the consumer side and organizational brakes on the part of companies. CIOs must work hand in hand with the marketing teams who master the experiential part“, she adds.

A definite competitive advantage

Despite this, nearly half of respondents (47%) say they would pay an additional cost for a product if they could personalize it using immersive technologies, and three in five consumers (61%) say they do. would be more inclined to buy from a brand that uses immersive technologies. “Both traditional players and e-commerce players must reinvent themselves and re-imagine the online shopping experience to increase consumer confidence and get a head start“, continues onn at Accenture Interactive. In other words, the integration of these technologies can now be perceived by the customers of a mark as a differentiating factor, in a universe which moreover is extremely competitive.

Last point addressed by the study and not least: the personal data implied by these innovations. More than half of French respondents say they are concerned about the use of their personal data, such as biometrics and eye analysis by immersive technologies when used to provide personalized recommendations. But paradoxically, 32% say they are ready to share certain data with brands in order to access personalized offers. “To build trust, the brand should only ask for what it really needs“, recommends Stéphanie Lafontaine.

Consumers in any case are convinced: for two thirds of them, immersive technologies will be important for the commerce of tomorrow. It’s up to brands to be convinced in their turn. “The pandemic is reinventing purchasing behavior and immersive technologies are maturing […], concludes the report. Now is the time to invest. Brands that wait will fall behind their competitors and vis-à-vis consumer expectations“.

Aude Chardenon


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