Virtual stores: types, technologies,
examples & integrations

Virtual stores: types, technologies, examples & integrations

November 15, 2023

Itransition Editorial Team

by Itransition Editorial Team

A virtual store is a new type of ecommerce experience powered by virtual and augmented reality technologies. Instead of showing static product grids, they simulate real-life in-store environments, provide immersive shopping experiences, and enable product interactions via computers or phones.

Immersive technologies are becoming the new staples of ecommerce services. Itransition helps forward-thinking retailers incorporate extended reality into their shopping solutions to create memorable customer experiences and increase engagement, brand loyalty, and conversions.

Virtual stores in retail: a market overview

$5.5 bn

expected global virtual reality in retail market size by 2028

Valuates Reports


of VR users tested products/browsed stores via VR before making a purchase



are interested in immersive shopping experiences in the next 5 years


Key features

Virtual reality stores are equipped with essential AR/VR-specific features to enable enhanced customer experiences and better engagement.

Key features

The store editing tool enables users to modify virtual stores, from the entire shopping environment to placing new products on a particular shelf.

  • Editing with SKU catalogs, store layouts, and planogram templates
  • Changing in-store lighting, item placement, and product metadata

A retailer’s sales staff can proactively engage with shoppers during online store browsing, delivering the same level of personalized, one-on-one experiences and support that customers can enjoy in stores.

  • Live chats
  • AI-powered chatbots
  • Video calls
  • Social messaging channels
  • Co-browsing

Capitalizing on human competitiveness and a sense of accomplishment, ecommerce companies can incorporate game elements into their shopping ecosystem to stimulate more interactions, foster customer loyalty, and build trust.

  • Rewards, such as discount codes or free items
  • Progress bars
  • Challenges
  • Virtual environments
  • In-game currency

By tapping a product, customers can get detailed information about it and look over different product parameters.

  • Pop-up information about products, e.g., price, usage tips
  • Exploration by item configuration, e.g., color, size, pattern

With high-quality images and videos, retailers can showcase their products in detail so that customers can explore them before buying.

  • High-definition photos and videos
  • Rotatable 3D images
  • 360-degree videos

Retailers can track VR-specific metrics to better understand customers’ interests and behavior based on their interactions, movements, and vision.

  • User gaze analysis
  • Object engagement
  • Device performance
  • Data visualization

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Types of virtual stores & their services

Retailers use virtual reality to deliver different degrees of immersion and interaction with customers in their virtual stores.

By making online products “tangible,” brands enhance and improve buyer confidence and, in turn, reduce returns. Customers are more likely to click "add to cart," resulting in an increase in purchases.

Jay Soni

Jay Soni

Marketing Director at Yorkshire Fabric Shop

Virtual showrooms

Using a 360-degree viewer in a browser or mobile phone or VR headsets, customers can enter a virtual version of a real shop, move around it, interact with products on the shelves, and buy items.
Best for
offline retail chains seeking to build a strong emotional connection with customers

Virtual try-on

This type of store allows customers to try on products without physically touching them. This increases consumers’ confidence in their decision to purchase.
Best for
fashion, makeup

Virtual try-out

With a brand’s dedicated mobile app, consumers can virtually place items into real-world environments, check if they match the surroundings, and choose the right size and color.
Best for
furniture, home accessories

3D webstore

A 3D store website represents a 3-dimensional replica of a physical store. Users can navigate through the store using arrows, zoom in and out of the environment, and interact with 3D product models.
Best for
composite products, electronics

Live video consultations

Virtual stores can provide in-person video consultations with sales associates to accompany customers throughout their buying journey in the virtual context.
Best for
luxury segment across product verticals

AR user manuals

An augmented reality user manual provides interactive instructions with explanatory texts and images overlaying the user’s view of the real product in the app. It can be used as an installation or troubleshooting guide.
Best for
complex equipment, vehicles

3D product configurator

A 3D product configurator allows users to customize the product’s build, design, and functionality through various interactive options. A 3D model of the product displays changes the customer applies in real-time.
Best for
interior design, furniture

360-degree view catalogs

Similar to VR stores, 360-degree view catalogs offer realistic 3D models of products, which users can rotate and explore in detail from different angles.
Best for
retailers wanting to showcase their products better

Our services

Virtual store consulting

Our experts help businesses in the retail industry on their way to AR/VR adoption and provide ecommerce consulting services for existing virtual stores.

  • Business analysis
  • Technology recommendations
  • Investment estimate
  • Step-by-step project planning
  • Improvement opportunities

Virtual store implementation

We create virtual stores with realistic presentations of the product assortment and mechanisms to immerse customers into interactive shopping experiences.

  • 3D content creation
  • Product configurator setup
  • AI-powered chatbot integration
  • Augmented reality app development

Virtual store examples

AiBUY, the owner of a shoppable video platform, teamed up with Itransition to make their solution more interactive. The platform enables buyers to purchase items right from the videos they are watching and lets sellers embed links to their store or products into any video or image. Driven by machine learning algorithms, the solution automatically recognizes items among 1.5 million images and recommends the closest matching products, delivering exclusive omnichannel experiences for customers and increasing visibility and conversion rates for brands.

The Nike Fit app allows users to accurately determine their shoe size by pointing a smartphone camera at their feet. The app scans the feet, maps the dimensions of each foot individually using a 13-point measuring system, and matches the size to the internal volume of their shoes. Nike reveals that this AR feature significantly increases the likelihood of a purchase because consumers are confident they’ve selected the correct size.

In 2022, Bloomingdale’s introduced a virtual store designed in partnership with Emperia to celebrate the department store’s 150th anniversary. The virtual retail space features collections from several brands placed in three unique rooms and offers 360-degree views of exclusive luxury products. In addition, customers can take a subway tour around the virtual store, watch a video of Bloomingdale’s brand evolution to date, play games, and unlock special surprises. The store creates a new, innovative online shopping experience, putting customers front and center.

IKEA has launched an AR-powered IKEA Place app that allows customers to virtually try out furniture and decorations in real-life settings. Users can scan their rooms and digitally place 3D items from the IKEA catalog into their living spaces while the app accurately scales items based on the room’s dimensions. The solution attracted new, younger audiences and significantly increased IKEA's store traffic.

Dyson, a British technology company, allows customers to interact with its products in virtual reality. For example, customers can virtually clean the floor with Dyson’s newest cordless vacuum or see what hairstyle they can get using their hairdryer. Moreover, in their virtual store, Dyson uses actual design data, making sure that virtual representations accurately reflect actual product dimensions.

Sephora, a global beauty brand, has released an AR app that allows users to virtually try on makeup products before buying. An AI tool accurately detects and tracks face elements and lets shoppers see how skin foundations, eyeliners, and lipsticks will look on their faces. The app can also analyze facial features to recommend matching products and offer customized virtual step-by-step makeup tutorials. Eight weeks after its launch, the app saw 1.6 million visits with 45 million try-ons.

Valuable virtual store integrations

Key integrations
Ecommerce platform
Predictive analytics
Video calling app
Pay-by-link technology

By integrating virtual stores with their ecommerce sites, businesses can synchronize product catalogs, prices, and item availability information between the two systems and automatically add 3D images to corresponding SKUs.

Predictive analytics tools help retailers obtain valuable insights to deliver unique experiences for every customer, predict demand, and understand future shopping trends when planning merchandising to better reach the target audience.


Retailers can integrate AI-powered chatbots into their virtual stores to provide customers with virtual assistants that can give accurate, human-like answers to text or voice questions, recommend relevant products, and support customers during virtual shopping.

Video calling app

To make customers feel truly connected to the brand, virtual stores can be equipped with video calling apps for real-time video chats with sales associates during shopping. Customers can revisit those call recordings to get tips shared during the consultation.

Pay-by-link technology

With remote payment solutions, retailers can send customers a secure link with the amount payable and the purchase description via the in-app chat, email, SMS, or messaging apps.

Virtual store technologies

Here is a rundown of technologies that make immersive shopping possible.

AR/VR technologies provide customers with an engaging and interactive experience, resulting in a memorable encounter, a happy sale, and increased possibilities of customers returning.

Bram Jansen

Bram Jansen

Chief Editor of vpnAlert

Augmented reality overlays real-time digital content on top of real-world environments and objects captured with the user’s mobile camera. The AR software uses depth tracking and computer vision to analyze the video stream as well as recognize and enhance objects.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality allows retailers to create computer-simulated shopping environments that replace users’ real-world spaces as they put on VR headsets. The technology can track users’ body motions to provide 360-degree immersive experiences.


WebAR delivers augmented shopping experiences via the mobile web browser and doesn’t require installing a dedicated application. Instead, users can access WebAR content simply by scanning a QR code or tapping on a web link, which makes the virtual buying journey easy and seamless.

3D modelling

Serving as the foundation of AR/VR experiences, three-dimensional digital models represent physical objects, such as products and customers’ bodies, that users can interact with virtually.

Self-learning ML algorithms can process vast amounts of customer data to provide relevant product recommendations, personalize buying experiences based on previous shopping behavior, and ensure realistic conversations with chatbots and virtual assistants.

Computer vision allows real-time recognition and tracking of real-world objects to adapt AR/VR store experiences to the user’s environments and movements.

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Virtual shopping in the metaverse

Defined as “the envisioned future iteration of the internet made up of 3D virtual spaces linked within a perceived virtual universe” by McKinsey, the metaverse will provide retailers with additional customer touchpoints along the buying journey and new, previously inaccessible ways to engage with customers, drive conversions, and increase customer loyalty.


of US adults have joined or are considering joining the metaverse



of global executives believe interacting with customers in the metaverse will become commonplace


$65.5 bn

the global metaverse market size in 2022, set to grow at a CAGR of 41.6% to 2030

Grand View Research

Opportunities for virtual retail in the metaverse

  • Enhanced personalized retail experiences beyond space and time with complete virtual accessibility to products
  • Virtual shopping with friends or sales assistants facilitated by the use of customizable 3D digital avatars representing customers
  • AI-powered outfit recommendations based on users’ existing clothes stored in virtual wardrobes
  • Generation of new digital clothes to be worn virtually by avatars in VR environments

Our data indicates that the majority of younger consumers want to be able to shop their favorite brands anywhere they go online, including on metaverse platforms. These shoppers have grown up with online videogames, esports and social media and many of them see the emerging metaverse as a modern-day mall—a connected virtual world where they can hang out, shop and socialize. For retail brands, these survey findings highlight the importance of creating sound metaverse commerce strategies today that will resonate with consumers over the coming years.

Neha Singh

Neha Singh

CEO of Obsess

by generation, hours per day

Scheme title: Expectations of time spent in metaverse in 5 years
Data source: — Probing reality and myth in the metaverse, 2022

Benefits of virtual stores

By creating virtual stores, retailers can gain a competitive advantage and future-proof their brand while unlocking multiple business benefits.

Increased sales

By enabling customers to see how products look on them or in their homes, companies can drive more sales.

Improved customer engagement

With captivating hands-on experiences provided by virtual stores, retailers can increase engagement and establish meaningful emotional connections with their customers.

Streamlined marketing research

Virtual stores enable companies to conduct marketing research and test different store layouts and concepts using significantly fewer resources.

Personalized experiences

Virtual stores enable retailers to analyze customer shopping behavior in detail and create highly personalized interactive experiences.

Lower return rates

Since customers can explore and visualize products in almost natural settings, they feel more confident in their purchase decisions and are less likely to return items.

Stronger brand awareness

Still being a novel concept, virtual stores and the catchy user experiences they create generate word-of-mouth marketing for a brand and differentiate it from competitors.

Faster employee training

Retailers can train new hires in a safe environment of virtual stores, minimizing the risk of costly mistakes and speeding up onboarding.

Unbound accessibility

Virtual stores enable customers to shop anywhere by exploring virtual replicas of brick-and-mortar stores or branded virtual worlds.

Virtual store implementation barriers & possible solutions



Slow loading

Virtual stores can perform poorly if the internet connection is too weak.

Virtual stores can perform poorly if the internet connection is too weak.

Heavy 3D models should be optimized by reducing the number of model planes while presenting a realistic product illustration to ensure that extended reality stores load fast, particularly on mobile devices.

Unrealistic display

Virtual objects can look unrealistic in real-world settings on a mobile screen.

Virtual objects can look unrealistic in real-world settings on a mobile screen.

Developers should apply a depth-from-motion approach when building an AR app to create true-to-life occlusions for virtual objects. In this case, no additional sensors are required on mobile devices.

User adoption barriers

Since immersive technologies are still relatively new, some customers can have concerns about the new type of shopping or the lack of special equipment that can prevent them from visiting virtual stores.

Since immersive technologies are still relatively new, some customers can have concerns about the new type of shopping or the lack of special equipment that can prevent them from visiting virtual stores.

Businesses can initiate informational marketing campaigns to highlight all the possible benefits of shopping in the VR environment for customers. To handle the problem of costly head-mounted displays, brands can instruct customers on device rental opportunities. However, companies opting for AR experiences only need to raise awareness about their virtual shopping app because no additional hardware is required for it to function.

Engage customers with virtual shopping experiences

Engage customers with virtual shopping experiences

Whether with a partial AR or fully virtual VR immersion, virtual stores provide a more natural shopping experience and can significantly improve customer engagement and brand reputation, enable hyper-personalization, and allow for advanced marketing and research activities. While today some retailers may hesitate to invest in innovative technology, virtual shopping is highly likely to be the future of retail. At Itransition, we advise companies to start exploring virtual shopping opportunities as early as possible, and we can help retailers launch immersive virtual stores to delight customers and outperform competitors.

Engage customers with virtual shopping experiences

FAQs about virtual stores

What is the cost of a virtual store?

The final cost of a virtual store depends on the elements of virtual store experience you want to add, the number and complexity of 3D models, types of targeted devices, integrations, and the software development team's pay rate. The price of a simple VR app can start at $10,000, while complex solutions will cost up from $100,000.

How long can it take to launch a virtual store?

The duration of development is strongly affected by the app’s functionality and the complexity of its elements and can vary from several months to a year or more.

Can I make 360-degree product images myself?

You can create 360-degree product images using 3D product imaging software. However, such 3D models can be of subpar quality and without the required level of detail. That’s why we recommend hiring skilled 3D modeling specialists to let you showcase your products in the most appealing way.

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