Virtual Reality Is the Next Ecommerce Frontier, with Barry Hoffman of ZeroLight

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“The goosebumps you get from your first good VR experience is incredible.”


Key Insights


How can you actually use visualization technology to improve brand experiences? (10:00)

Brands that start to experiment with new, emerging technologies, need to allow for some user freedom to explore the technology as well. And they need to find ways to bring digital visualization technology into some of the more basic parts of their operations or collateral.

“People ask, ‘What’s the analog of a paper brochure? Well, let’s do a PDF.’ That’s missing the point a little bit of what digital can do. So we came up with much more digital interaction. The next stage is, for instance, manuals… Like for one brand, we’re showing how the coffee cup holder was working, super rudimentary. But if you then do the coffee cup holder, do you put a coffee cup in there, which is from Starbucks, from Peet’s, like from whom? So instead of having that discussion, which coffee cup it needs to be, it’s better to have a generic, almost translucent hologram of what looks like a thing. And then your own mind can make up what it has to look like. So that’s where you can actually have a lot more license of freedom.”

Why and how should brands challenge old ways of thinking? (16:00)

It’s tempting to buy all the shiny new technology and put it to use for your brand. But you need to have a good reason to bring something into your tech stack or experience and know what you want to get out of it. Those are the questions you need to ask before bringing anything new into your company.

“What we do is basically we send a stream of that car and that car looks absolutely bright and good. And then we allow them to look at the same car at the same time without putting them in that space themselves, because some people start putting avatars in there and then they put the avatar in front of the car. And I think, ‘Yeah, that’s all very nice, but what’s it about? Is this about the car or about the avatar?’ So there’s one way of underusing technology and there’s a way of overusing technology.”

What from video games can apply to ecommerce? (20:00)

A game has three things, it’s social, it’s immersive, and it has competition. These are the elements that you should consider when thinking about applying gaming ideas into an ecommerce landscape.

“What is a game? A game is social. A game has immersion and a game has competition. Those are the three things, social immersion and competition… So constantly you need to weave in those primary needs, social competition, immersion, and then look at each of those sub-branches to sort of like, see how do those needs fill in? 

What are the KPIs for creating usable VR? (30:00)

Virtual reality technology has been around for quite a while, but it’s never reached a point where it’s been widely adopted. One of the main reasons is that the technology — both the hardware and the software — wasn’t optimized with proper design principles. Your No. 1 KPI with VR should be that it is comfortable and designed in a way that the user is not out of sorts or feeling ill after the experience.

“The goosebumps you get from your first good VR experience is incredible. Because for the first time you are in a virtual world and you are taking part in it instead of like sitting back in it in playing mode… Comfortable technology is the first KPI to do it right… So if you use the right kind of design principles, you can create comfortable technology.”

About the Guest:

Barry Hoffman is the Chief Strategy Officer at ZeroLight. He is a full-stack executive with international experience in Telecommunications, Entertainment/Games and Automotive with a deep passion for all things Data Science, CRM and (Online) Media.

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Episode 194