Impact of virtual reality on Local businesses

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Virtual reality is having a huge impact on local businesses, especially since COVID-19 hit in 2020. Some of the biggest and most positive impacts in recent years have been:

  1. Increased customer engagement: Local businesses that incorporate VR into their operations can offer customers a more immersive and engaging experience, which can help attract and retain customers.
  2. Improved marketing and advertising: VR can be used to create unique and memorable marketing and advertising campaigns, which can help local businesses stand out from their competitors.
  3. Enhanced training and development: VR can be used to create realistic and interactive training programs, which can help local businesses train employees more effectively and efficiently.
  4. Cost savings: VR can be used to simulate real-world scenarios, which can help local businesses save on costs associated with physical prototypes and testing.
  5. New revenue streams: Local businesses can potentially generate new revenue streams by offering VR experiences, such as virtual tours or virtual events.

So what does this look like in real-life? What are the conversations and how does VR impact local business? We’ve suggested a few sectors where we’ve seen most change.

Medical and Dental Clinics

Typically, the outside of a clinic is not as aesthetically pleasing as the inside. This means potential clients viewing a practice on Google will see the outside street view but not inside with its clean finish and modern equipment.

Therefore, clinics that post a Google Virtual Tour of their clinic stand out clearly from their competition. Even if it is only because people love to have a look round 360 Virtual Tours of places they wish to visit.

For organisations like this, virtual tours are the next best thing to visiting in-person, as visitors can see the entrance, reception and clinic as well as any other rooms you may wish to display. Did you know, Google research has shown that among the people they surveyed, 67% want more business listings to have virtual tours?

Such tours help reassure nervous patients and children as it alleviates anxiety by providing a sense of familiarity. A virtual tour shows a comprehensive and transparent layout of the practice, aiding those with mobility, visual or anxiety concerns.

Attractions

For the attraction’s owner, a virtual tour has many benefits.  Firstly, Google research has shown that an attraction’s catchment area more than doubles when it has a virtual tour. 

Secondly, a virtual tour on Google increases a company’s ratings in two ways. First, it is more transparent and secondly it diverts traffic to your website which results in longer dwelling times. Local attractions have seen this is an invaluable marketing tool in the face of increasing competition. 

Long gone are the days where only leaflets put in hotels and local supermarkets were enough.  The digital age has meant that consumers are doing more of their research online either on the laptop or phone. Did you know, 90% of them are using Google as their main search engine? 

Properties

Covid has forced the property sector to embrace technology in an unprecedented way. And the advantages have become evident. This, alongside the demands of a tech-savvy millennial and GenZ generation – the property market’s most important client for years to come – means that virtual tools for buying and selling property will be here to stay, and will likely become ever more sophisticated.

Here are some fun facts about those buying properties in today’s society:

  • 85% of all prospective buyers start their property search online (Hastings Legal).
  • Listings with a 360 virtual tour tour sold, on average, 10% faster; were saved by buyers 32% more than homes without; and received, on average, 29% more views than listings without (Cision, 2021). 
  • Gen Z follows closely behind millennials as major adopters of this technology in the property world. More than one in three (36%) zoomers stated they’d be comfortable buying a home online, compared to 7% of baby boomers and 19% of Gen X (Cision, 2021).

Hotels

The world of glossy airbrushed idealised hotel rooms has long gone. Today’s travellers expect transparency. They want to know exactly what to expect when they check-in. They read reviews and comments, they browse user-generated photos and Google Images. Increasingly they are expecting a virtual tour and – when hotels with this option generate 48% more bookings than those without – it pays to give it to them. 

In case you hadn’t noticed, Google has changed the way its virtual tours work for hotels. Each area in the property is treated as a separate area with its own standalone tour. Lobbies, restaurants, bars, gyms, spas, bedrooms, suites and gardens can all be accessed and explored separately via a row of thumbnails at the bottom of the screen.

Shopping

Trends agency, Foresight Forecast have recently completed a report on the future of shopping for Snap Inc Technology. The report is based on a global survey of 20,000 shoppers. Instead of predicting the death of the high street, Foresight Forecast found the opposite. Shoppers are eager to return to bricks and mortar stores, but especially if the ease of shopping online can be blended with the richness of an in person shopping experience. Shoppers, particularly here in the UK, are looking for a more ‘connected’ shopping experience.

Did you know 40% of UK consumers use their mobile whilst in store to find out more information on a product, and that 80% of Gen Z shoppers say they will use augmented reality (AR) in shopping in the next 5 years?

It goes to show that when technology is built around human behaviour it can have a positive impact. We want the socially connected, tactile experience of physically going shopping with the advantages of technology. A home delivery service for example, or access to stock information whilst in store.

Jewellery

With the festive season closing in, retailers are beginning to consider which products to stock and how to showcase pieces in sparkling storefronts.

It’s the time of year when customer habits and consumer spending is widely tracked and considered by all those with a keen interest in retail. But understanding and capturing passing trade isn’t just confined to this period of trading now, as most retail jewellers can attest to.

So, how do bricks-and-mortar stores stay ahead of the curve by capitalising on passing trade and optimising the spend of regular and loyal customers? The answer: upgrade your store to the digital age.

And this doesn’t simply mean the ecommerce notion of bricks and clicks; what is really being referenced is consumer engagement with your store through the lens of technology. Adding to the allure of quality products artfully arranged with props and an attractive storefront, some retailers are now using technology solutions as a way of understanding customers and enticing them in store. Offering potential customers an insight into your store before they even get there is becoming increasingly vital, as the number of visitors engaging online continues to grow – something Google’s Business View program has sought to serve.

Pubs

In today’s world full of artisan cafes and trendy popups, the pub remains culturally rooted as the place where we meet. Be it for a casual get-together, a first date or an epic party, a really good pub can be much more than simply ‘the local’.

These are the times when a virtual tour sets a pub apart from the crowd. It’s about growing the catchment area for people who don’t live round the corner. Or reassuring someone making a group booking or organising a party from a distance.

We’ve had great feedback from off-high-street places like The Garden Shed Pub, who wanted to attract customers from further afield and show off their new look. And from pubs who are keen to promote their other services, such as The Truscott Arms who offer fine-dining upstairs and function rooms for weddings and corporate events.

In all cases, with virtual tours on Google Maps allowing anyone anywhere in the world to visit anytime, ‘the local’ has got a lot less local. world to visit anytime, ‘the local’ has got a lot less local.

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