The internet changed much about the world we live in, especially with regards to how we shop. As a result, many retailers have had to explore new ways of connecting with customers. Shopify is one of these companies, using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to create a new experience for consumers.
Shopify is a Canadian-based e-commerce platform that uses the latest technology to help consumers find what they want online. The company has embraced VR and AR as a means of presenting options to customers.
Customers can only make decisions based on the information they have available, and with online shopping this can be limited to static images, which doesn’t provide the same level of information as that gained from examining an object in person. This is where VR and AR come in, providing a method to bridge the gap between the consumer and the online store.
The VR and AR features have been built using Unreal Engine 4, expanding the scope of the engine beyond its original niche as being a videogame creation tool: “We strongly believe that virtual reality and augmented reality will fundamentally shift how we shop in the future,” says Daniel Beauchamp, AR/VR lead at Shopify, “Shopify chose to go with Unreal Engine because of the fact that it’s so easy to get up and started with,” he says. “The editor is easy enough to use for our artists, it’s great for our developers, and it allows us to build these prototypes really quickly.”
Jonathan Wade, VR/AR Developer at Shopify described one of its first experiments with VR/AR and Unreal Engine, the creation of Thread Studio. This tool allowed users to see what a t-shirt would look like when worn, using intuitive motion controls and a VR headset to move around a virtual mannequin.
“A lot of people thought that Shopify got into VR too early for this type of company,” says Wade. “We think it’s actually going to creep up on people. New devices are going to come out and things are going to change really quickly, and Unreal has been great about keeping up with all the innovations that are happening in the VR and AR space.”