Virtual Reality Shopping Experience

Posted by : at

Category : Virtual Reality

Executive Summary

Virtual reality (VR) has become more and more popular among people. So how can merchants use this emerging technology to attract more people to go to the actual store and make their purchase there? After conducting user research, the design team found that many people prefer shopping to be fun and social experience. So the design ideas were focused more on fun and social aspect of the experience. We also found that shopping experience also differs by type of product. To narrow our focus, we focused on building experience for shopping clothes. Initial design of system largely based on using VR as a platform to solve breakdowns and attract users to physical store. After the mid-evaluation feedback, we found that other making experience fun we should also concentrate on making experience smooth. Thus, our previous design was re-iterated to make transition as smooth as possible. This involves avoiding typing in VR, irregular hand movements etc. After conducting the think-aloud user test, design team found that users prefer interactions options on top than on bottom of 3D screen. Also we noticed that users were strained when they were asked to move their heads again and again. Using these observations and feedback, user interface was redesigned to fit in VR friendly field of view and final design is demonstrated as an interactive prototype.


With the development of internet, an increasing number of people are shopping online. Thus physical stores are facing great crisis than never before. VR is thought to be a technology that will change people’s life greatly. To use this newly created technology to attract more people to go out of their room, visit the physical stores and increase the sales volume of shops has become a big and challenging problem. Team was focused to design a shopping journey in VR such that it can enhance the possibility of visiting and successfully purchasing in the physical store. The design team first conducted a user research to understand what motivates users to go to physical store and to identify the shortcomings and advantages provided by the real store compared with other shopping options. Based on the data from the focus group, user personas were created, which gave the design team a solid base for brainstorming the design ideas. Based on these ideas, the scenarios and storyboards were created to address the breakdown and opportunities. Task flows and wireframes were designed to best represent the shopping journey using VR. While getting feedback from the client, an improved version was presented after numerous iteration and user tests.

Context / Focus Setting

Our goal is to design a shopping experience that starts users’ purchase journey in VR and motivate them to visit real stores at the end of journey. Also, address the user needs along with merchant needs by identifying the shortcomings and advantages in experience provided by retail stores when compared to other shopping options.

Discovery: User Research

One focus group was conducted with graduate students at UF. A total of 7 students participated with 4 females and 3 males. The focus group was conducted about an hour long. Among these 7 students, 2 explicitly said that they would not use VR to shopping since there is no difference between VR shopping and shop online.

Data Analysis: Walk the Data

After conducting the user research, the responses the researchers gave have been transcribed into post-its. Similar responses are organized and then the affinity diagram was used to analyze the results. 6 user needs were summarized based on priorities (high to low) from the affinity diagram and are listed below:

  1. I want to shopping for fun/social experience.
  2. I like to find/buy things easily.
  3. I need proper details of product.
  4. I need haptic feedback/measurement.
  5. I need personalized experience;
  6. I don’t want to waste a lot of time in shopping.


Based on the personas the design team created, brainstorming was conducted to come up with design ideas. Since the final purpose of this VR project is to attract user to go to the actual store, most of our ideas focus on this and the top 6 user needs, especially the first one - shop for social experience. These ideas were ranked according to the frequency mentioned in the focus group and importance, from 1-3 (the highest is 3). By combining these ideas, the final design focus more on the following aspects: 1) can socialize and interact with friends 2) can have fun in VR by exploring the virtual world and earn points there. These earned points can be spent while buying clothes or to unlock VR premium content. 3) can try all the clothes in VR on his/her own avatar 4) can design clothes and share it. Here user can even earn money if his/her design idea is popular among people. In the next section, we will show how the design ideas were combined and what functions this VR has by scenarios and storyboards.

Based on the personas, user needs and design ideas, scenarios were created to illustrate how personas would use our system and solve their problems. Each scenario covers a different sets of design concept.


The design team was intended to design a better shopping experience with VR such that the shopper can begin their purchase journey in a virtual store and finish their customer journey in a physical store. To accomplish this task, the group conducted the focus group to do a research and determine what the user needs in their shopping experience. Affinity diagram was used to find the top 6 user needs. 3 different user personas were created with each one particularly emphasizing on 2 user needs. Various design ideas came out through brainstorming and the scenarios and corresponding storyboards help build a bridge between the user needs and the design ideas. Wireframes of the design were created to illustrate the actual flow of shopping experience. After the midterm, feedback was received to improve the wireframes and make the scenarios highlighted on the wireframe. User tests were conducted to evaluate the prototype that is build based on the wireframe. After iteration, final prototype was finished and the corresponding video sketch was created to show how this application is used to improve the shopping experience and encourage people to purchase at the real store.