Are virtual reality and augmented reality the next step for CMS?
In a fitting conclusion to a year many hailed as the “year of virtual reality” (VR), in December 2016, WordPress made it possible for users to create and publish VR content on any WordPress site. The change meant that users could publish 360-degree photos on their sites, and regular photos and panoramas could be viewed in VR.
As it is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), powering more than 25% of all websites, it’s worth keeping an eye on WordPress’ developments, and this move into VR is a firm indication of the medium’s growing importance in online experiences. For marketers, virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) present the opportunity to create unique customer experiences, and establish themselves as innovators.
In this post, we’ll look at the rise of VR and AR, examine how content management systems are embracing virtual reality, and consider what these developments mean for marketers and the online customer experience.
2016 2017: The year of VR?
Over the last few years, interest in VR/AR capabilities among organisations has increased significantly, as technological advancements improve the experience and lower the barrier to entry. Today, all you need to step into a virtual world is an inexpensive compatible headset such as the Google Cardboard and a smartphone.
In 2016, some of the leading tech players staked their largest claims in the VR market so far, with the Facebook-owned Oculus, and HTC and Sony PlayStation each launching their own virtual reality headsets. Although 2016 didn’t quite deliver on predictions that every household would have its own virtual reality headset by the year’s end, many businesses continue to explore VR’s applications.
According to market researcher IDC, by the end of 2017, worldwide spending on augmented and virtual reality could reach $13.9 billion and, by 2020, this figure could increase more than tenfold, with $143.3 billion predicted to be spent in 2020. The expectation is that the sectors investing the most into the technology would be retail showcasing, product development and industrial maintenance.
How can VR create great customer experiences?
For retailers, building virtual showrooms makes perfect sense, as it reduces the need to build real, costly showrooms in multiple locations.
For customers, it offers greater convenience. They can browse realistic renderings of every available product without leaving the house, thanks to augmented reality, see how pieces of furniture would look in their own homes, and even create and download room designs for viewing with their Google Cardboard when they get home.
A study by Adobe found that VR and the internet-of-things technologies should help organisations provide consistent experiences across all channels, and noted how particularly important this was in the retail sector. It added that the technologies had great potential to discover new and unexpected things, and could contribute to personal well-being.
What is enabling these experiences? The content management system.
How can a CMS help businesses create VR/AR experiences?
They are emerging – content management systems that specialise in enabling virtual reality experiences – particularly to serve those in the retail, hospitality, and leisure and real estate sectors. These let marketers create and manipulate VR content without any coding skills, in the same way they would any other media on their CMS.
For retailers and manufacturers, features such as 3D modelling services digitally render real objects into simulations that look and feel as they would in real life, and homebuilders can show multiple model homes with a range of different finishes and options, all on a single screen.
Furthermore, some systems have integrated analytics capabilities, which, by using heat maps, let marketers see exactly what viewers are looking at when watching VR videos and what parts of the video have attracted the most attention.
Above all, these virtual and augmented reality capabilities serve as great differentiators for your brand, creating immersive, personalised experiences for the customer.
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