I just came across an interesting paper, Empirical analysis of consumer reaction to the virtual reality shopping mall , 24 Comp. Hum. Beh. 88, by Kun Chang Lee and Namho Chung. Here’s the abstract:
The Internet shopping mall has received wide attention from researchers and practitioners due to the fact that it is one of the most killing applications customers can find on the Internet. Though numerous studies have been performed on various issues of the Internet shopping mall, some research issues relating to the user interface of VR (virtual reality) shopping malls still await further empirical investigation. The objective of this study is to investigate whether the user interface of the VR shopping mall positively affects customer satisfaction in comparison with the ordinary shopping mall. For this purpose, we developed a prototype of the VR shopping mall for which the user interface consists of both 3D graphics and an avatar, using it as an experimental medium. 102 valid questionnaires were gathered from active student users of the ordinary shopping mall, and two research hypotheses were then tested to prove whether the three explanatory variables such as convenience, enjoyment, quality assurance improve in the VR shopping mall, and whether customer satisfaction is also significantly enhanced in the VR shopping mall in comparison with the ordinary shopping mall. Additionally, we conducted the PLS (partial least square) analysis to test whether the customer satisfaction is explained significantly by the three explanatory variables or not.
Not surprisingly, products in the VR malls were seen as better, and customers enjoyed shopping more. As the authors point out later in the paper, “VR is a medium capable of yielding immersion,” which should increase customers’ ability to evaluate brand quality, and thus increase sales. Indeed, the effect becomes more robust the more time you spend at the VR mall! Lee and Chung claim that their approach has “immediate managerial applications”: to me, it gives a sense of why and how we’d move toward an omni-persuasive consumer experience.