For those of us who like to touch before we buy, internet shopping has largely been a non-event. That reluctance to shop online is about to change into unbridled enthusiasm.
Companies like Trillenium are betting that virtual reality technology will help them lure shoppers into online stores. Trillenium, a start-up that creates virtual stores for brands, uses virtual reality technology to create a life-like shopping environment that allows users to touch and examine products just as if they were in a traditional street store. And they can take a friend with to share the experience.
The London-based startup sees itself as a key enabler of the next phase of online fashion retailing. The company’s founder and CEO, Hrvoje Prpic, is one of Europe's most successful retail entrepreneurs. His previous exit was one of the biggest domestic IPOs in Croatia and the Central Europe region. The Trillenium development headquarters is in Zagreb, Croatia.
Trillenium’s online shops are built on the Unity 3D (EA Games) engine work with advanced virtual reality simulators like Oculus Rift.
Virtual reality, the technology used mostly in gaming, is being adopted by retailers who want to bring the real-life shopping experience to online shoppers. In the virtual stores created by Trillenium online shoppers would enter online stores wearing devices such as Google’s Cardboard, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, or HTC’s Vive. Friends who own devices could go shopping together in a virtual store, sharing an immersive social experience.
Virtual reality is an environment generated by computer software that is so convincing that users feel themselves to be and act in the virtual setting. The technology has the potential to change how we experience shopping, gaming, sport, travel, post traumatic recovery and much more.
Trillenium has attracted high-profile interest and investment. One of Europe’s largest online stores, ASOS, through its venture capital arm, has joined forces with the startup to explore innovative 3D and virtual brand possibilities online. ASOS has 88 million unique visitors per month. The collaboration was announced back in January.
The startup has also attracted the interest of tennis star Andy Murray who has invested in Trillenium through equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Trillenium raised £260,000 ($392.000) on the Seedrs platform according to the company’s website.
A retail revolution seems eminent. Recent advances in virtual reality technology has made complete immersion in a virtual world possible. The ‘realness’ of the experience depends on the graphics power of modern computing systems, sophisticated motion-sensing and the high-resolution headsets used to enter and interact with the virtual world.
Whether the virtual shopping revolution will actually take off will to a large extent depend on the quality and functionality of the virtual reality headsets produced by Samsung, Google, HTC and Facebook. Should they deliver on their promise, they may very well be the catalyst that turn ecommerce into “immerse commerce”.