Virtual Reality, Moving from Science Fiction to E-commerce

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för marknadsföring och strategi

Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) is growing and expected to disrupt the retail e-commerce market within a few years. Despite the bright forecasts, there is still a lack of academic research on what the effects would be of using VR within e-commerce product presentations and what that could imply for both business and consumers. The aim of this thesis is therefore to fill the research gap by investigating if VR product presentations within an e-commerce context will necessarily result in improved cognitive and conative effects on the consumer compared to only 2D pictures. Furthermore, this thesis investigates if different product types and consumer's level of involvement with technology will affect the results. A quantitative study was composed for four fictitious websites, in which either VR or only 2D pictures were used to show two different products within furniture. The study found that VR product presentations resulted in improved positive cognitive and conative effects on the consumer compared to only 2D presentations and that this can be explained by an increased sense of consumer's telepresence. The product type used did not work as a moderator and hence did not affect the product evaluation. However, consumer's level of involvement with technology affected if VR product presentations will have a spill-over effect in terms of favourable branding and website evaluations or not. Therefore, this thesis generates both important managerial - and consumer implications for the next digital era.

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