Meet Czech Republic-based iShowroom, the product visualisation partner using virtual and augmented reality to enhance the ecommerce experience
Filip Major, founder and chief executive officer of iShowroom, explains what’s lacking from online retail in the age of Covid-19 and how virtual and augmented reality can better connect customers and retailers
VRWT: What’s the story behind iShowroom?
Filip Major: iShowroom was established as the child of virtual reality developer studio 301, in response to suggestions from manufacturers and retailers affected by the impact of Covid-19. Many showrooms have been closed or their operations have been radically curtailed. Among other things, all exhibitions in which these companies regularly participate have been cancelled, so they have lost the opportunity to demonstrate the functionality of their machines and the power of their products to potential customers. In general, for example, the high-end segment and automotive (which we are focusing on as a priority) lost many billions of euro during the first half of last year, compared to previous years.
I realised that it was appropriate for us to use our knowledge of 3D and augmented and virtual reality technology to try to completely and interactively virtualise the showrooms and product portfolios of these affected clients and so preserve all the necessary elements (including ensuring real-time communication).
VRWT: How would you characterise ecommerce right now?
Filip Major: Ecommerce is logically going up significantly, but it still has many limitations. For example, a lack of understanding of the product, its dimensions, configuration options, functionality, placement in a specific environment, and context. At the same time, the customer lacks their own point of view on the product—not even high quality photos can trigger their imaginations.
All of this must change, and technologies that can do this have been around for many years. But now is the best time to utilise them.
VRWT: And what do we need to do to improve the online retail experience?
Filip Major: Appropriately combine the available technologies and give the client and their customers something that will create the most believable ‘digital bridge’ over the ‘abyss’ of today. At the same time, this solution must be unified and must be able to maintain most of the practical aspects of today’s ecommerce market. It must also be cross-platform to reach those who do not yet have a virtual reality headset at home. For this reason, in parallel with virtual reality, we will develop the same content solution for mobile devices and PCs. Furthermore, the comfort of the target customer is key for us.
VRWT: How are you working to make ecommerce more immersive?
Filip Major: First of all, we try to perfectly embrace our client and their brand, philosophy, and customers. Based on this, we will prepare an individual concept that should respond to this and together we will choose whether to create a completely unique design environment or make a faithful 1:1 digital copy of the client’s physical showroom. Subsequently, we digitise their portfolio and put it in the prepared showroom. We will set up a suitable user experience and interface, prepare interactivity, and add supporting elements, such as the ability to configure products, their explanations, product videos, communication tools, the ability to generate an order, and much more.
We have also created our own background analytics, which can evaluate the 3D movement and actions of the customer and then work effectively with this data. The whole solution is for virtual reality headsets, as well as for mobile devices and PCs, where we also like to use augmented reality, thanks to which the customer can project the selected product directly into their space and continue to configure or communicate with the dealer. Based on this, we can also automatically generate a summary of the order, which already contains specific views of the selected product, including its specification and accompanying information.
VRWT: What’s in store for the rest of 2021?
Filip Major: We are still working on the further development of a large client in the field of automotive, for which we will build another three showrooms and gradually also add new functionalities that we came up with during our research. One of them is the ‘revival’ of the entire real scene, including a realistic model of a person who will tell you about individual products and respond to your requirements. In addition, and other orders that we are now gradually preparing for new clients, we also want to gradually build our own showroom, as an aggregator or virtual reality department store, where we will show off the latest technologies and procedures.
VRWT: How can interested parties get in touch?
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