Shoptoberfest 2024

Spatial commerce: The next step in the evolution of shopping

Spatial commerce: The next step in the evolution of shopping

Offline and online retailers, but also ecommerce companies, face huge challenges. How can you stand out from the competition? How do you strengthen customer relations in the long term? And how do you keep attracting your customers’ attention so they stay excited about your brand? In the future, the answers will be found in personalized, interactive shopping experiences, hybrid shopping models, or shopping in the metaverse. Spatial commerce is much more than a short-lived trend. It’s the next step in the evolution of ecommerce – and will revolutionize the way your customers shop in the future.

Table of contents:

  1. What is Spatial Commerce?

  2. Which businesses is spatial commerce suitable for?

  3. How AR and VR blur the lines between the real and the virtual world

  4. What are the advantages of spatial commerce in ecommerce?

  5. How can you deploy spatial commerce strategically?

  6. From omnichannel commerce to spatial commerce

What is spatial commerce?

Imagine your customers going beyond simply viewing your products on-screen. What if they could experience them close-up and even “digitally touch” them in a three-dimensional space? Spatial commerce – also known as spatial retail or spatial shopping – removes the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds. 3D visualization allows users to view products almost as if they were in a bricks-and-mortar store. They can zoom in, rotate, or look at them from different angles. And in B2B, for example, you can display machines in detail to practice with them in the virtual space.

Spatial commerce uses gamification to turn shopping into a compelling experience.

Equipped with just a webcam or smartphone camera, users can view items in different colors and sizes. Customers can try on clothes in a virtual fitting room, for example, without having to leave their own home. Or they can get creative with furniture and décor. Virtual room planning can help them pick a new sofa, for instance, by using a tablet camera to position a digitalized version in their own living room.

Spatial computing uses 3D product visualization to create a spatial environment.

How does spatial commerce work? First, technologies are used to create a spatial environment and also visualize products and articles in 3D. 3D product visualizations are integrated into the purchasing process using virtual and/or augmented reality. The new dimension of online shopping is a seamless experience. After configuring items virtually, your customers can add them straight to their 3D shopping cart and complete their online purchase. This integration between human and computer is supported by spatial computing technology.

Which businesses is spatial commerce suitable for?

Experience-rich virtual offers are not only good for online commerce. They also help traditional retailers draw more customers into their bricks-and-mortar stores.

Online stores with a strong internet presence in particular can use a 3D set-up to present products in their very best light. Customers can experience products virtually before they buy, which increases the appeal of online stores. Traditional retail benefits, too, as spatial commerce with its innovative offers has the potential to entice customers back into physical stores. By using AR to integrate virtual elements into the real environment, for example, you can create a unique shopping experience and increase the appeal of the physical store. If you add digital location data to the products on offer, potential customers can use their smartphones to find out which ones are available nearby.

Spatial commerce is suitable for sectors where visitor and shopping experience play an important role.

Whether it’s about sneakers, glasses, clothes, furniture, or jewelry, in a great many cases, purchasing decisions are greatly influenced by how products are visually presented and experienced. And an innovative visitor experience can turn virtual tours of museums, exhibitions, or digitalized tradeshow booths and showrooms into something quite unique.

How AR and VR blur the lines between the real and the virtual world

Spatial commerce is based on immersive environments where customers can enjoy customized experiences. The prerequisite is technology that generates an augmented and virtual world, enabling the real and the virtual to merge.

Augmented reality (AR): Users still move through their real world, which is simply augmented by virtual elements. If you look at the real environment through a camera lens, for instance, you can superimpose images or text.

Virtual reality (VR): Virtual reality, on the other hand, is a completely new, computer-generated reality. Users can move around in the virtual environment using VR glasses, data gloves and a 3D mouse, diving completely into a digitally created world.

Mixed reality (MR): Mixed reality is a combination of AR and VR. Here, natural perception is enhanced by computer-generated elements, resulting in a fascinating mix of a purely virtual extension of the real world and a completely virtually generated environment. Customers experience digital content integrated realistically into their physical environment.

What are the advantages of spatial commerce in ecommerce?

Five ways a customized shopping experience will benefit your online shop:

  1. Improved perception of your company and brand In traditional retail, price and product availability are often the most important purchasing criteria for customers. However, customized recommendations, offers, and a broader selection increase the appreciation of your products and brands. They help you make your ecommerce business more attractive and stand out from the competition.

  2. More conversions Spatial commerce intensifies pre-purchase interactions with products, making them more entertaining. Trying things on – or trying them out – virtually is fun and increases the enjoyment of augmented reality shopping. Allow your customers to discover your products virtually and increase conversions and revenue.

  3. Lower return rate A typical problem with online stores is that a lot of time and money is spent on returns. Virtual configuration options allow customers to find the perfect size, fit, and color. If the products they order fit well and match expectations, the return rate will be lower. So your returns management is not only more efficient, but also more cost-effective.

  4. Increased sustainability and transparency If fewer articles are returned that cannot be resold, there is less waste. And fewer returns generate lower CO2 emissions. This allows online merchants to be more sustainable and contributes significantly to waste reduction. In addition, if you provide more information on production and manufacture, for instance, in the form of superimposed text, you’re offering your ecologically-minded customers more transparency at the same time.

  5. New target groups and higher revenue Browse and shop virtually from anywhere in the world? Spatial commerce makes it a reality for your customers. And at the same time you gain new target groups, increase sales, and boost overall revenue.

How can you deploy spatial commerce strategically?

Implementing spatial commerce successfully requires a well-functioning ecosystem of developers, online merchants and customers. But how can you create optimum conditions for a metaverse shopping experience? And what’s the best strategy?

Ideally, you should first decide which of your products and target groups are a good fit for spatial commerce. Not all merchandise is equally suited to product visualization, so it’s important to choose carefully. Then, you should think about the required technology and data collection method. A successful implementation depends on technological and financial aspects and on coordinating your data streams effectively.

  • What customer data do you want to save and process and what do data-protection laws allow? The information required for spatial commerce includes your customers’ preferences or purchase history.

  • Which technical devices do your customers need for the metaverse shopping experience? Depending on the application area, these can be VR or AR glasses/smartphones, cameras, GPS transmitters for the location, IoT sensors, etc.

  • Which ecommerce platform and which shop system do you use and are they compatible with spatial commerce? Shopware, for instance, is a spatial commerce pioneer. Shopware works with technology partners such as Rooom to ensure that products can be displayed from all perspectives or in a real environment.

From omnichannel commerce to spatial commerce

Spatial commerce may sound like science fiction to some, but it’s already common to link multiple online and offline sales channels (omnichannel commerce) – so your customers’ expectations are already changing. They use Click&Collect to order products online and pick them up at the physical store. A virtual shopping portal can make a bricks-and-mortar store more well known and encourage customers to rediscover the physical location. Spatial commerce is simply the next logical and technological step.