It’s estimated that by 2023 there could be as many as eight billion digital voice assistants in use around the world. That’s more than the human population of our planet, which stands at around 7.53 billion.

This explosive growth prediction means that marketing heads need to address how they plan to utilise and capitalise on the burgeoning v-commerce sector, which includes voice based digital assistants as well as virtual and augmented reality technology.

There’s a lot at stake. US research group Juniper Research predicts that voice-based commerce alone will reach $80 billion over the next five years.

So here’s five things marketing leaders may need to think about when addressing the great v-commerce revolution:


If you think the e-commerce and social media revolutions happened quickly, v-commerce is set to grow even quicker.

Marketing professionals are already starting to look at how they can develop strategies that ensure they keep pace with developments in the new technology.

Strategic pull: Marketing in the v-commerce age will require collaboration
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They’ll almost certainly need to work more closely with IT departments than ever as the ‘customer experience’ in a virtual space takes centre stage.

They’ll also need to work out how their brand is going to best engage with customers in the virtual space.

And they’ll need to plan how and where will be best to deploy their v-commerce strategies – mobile, home, in vehicles and public spaces.


If you think you’re dealing with a lot of data now, it’s about to get a whole lot bigger.

Last year, eBay introduced a virtual reality app that allowed shoppers to browse items and get a closer look at them as if they were in a shop.

Users are also able to use their gaze to scroll through the items.

This is gold for marketers as it allows them to see what their customers are searching for, track shopping patterns, and calibrate their sales strategies and tactics based on how v-shoppers behave while in the virtual space.

Forensic data analysis will become essential.

The World’s First Virtual Reality Department Store – brought to you by eBay and Myer

Virtual shopping: eBay launched the world’s first VR store in 2016

Unsurprisingly, shopping is the top service smartphone users want from virtual reality products.

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According to a study from Ericsson ConsumerLab, 64 percent of respondents consider it important to be able to see an item’s actual size and form when shopping virtually.

Immersive payments

There’s no point in creating an amazing v-commerce product if you don’t make it easy for potential customers to buy on the spot.

Marketing departments will need to work with payments providers to make sure people can buy or book items instantly, by making real world payments in a virtual world.

Fully loaded: Alibaba’s Buy+ claimed to be the world’s first complete VR shopping experience

In 2016, China-based retailer Alibaba launched Buy+, which it claimed at the time was the first ever complete VR shopping experience. UK electronic payments giant Worldpay, launched a prototype virtual reality payments system in 2017.

Creative 3D thinking
To succeed in the v-commerce space, marketers will need to think in three dimensional terms, too.

From shopping in a virtual store, to viewing your potential next home, and even having a flutter in a virtual casino, people will want to interact with friendly faces.

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What they look like, how they speak, smile and even how much they can help will all be part of the marketing need to know.

Celebrity help: BA’s inflight safety message for Comic Relief proved popular
For years, airlines, such as BA and Virgin Atlantic, have fielded celebrities to make in-flight video safety messages, designed to put passengers at ease.

But this form of celebrity expertise could reach a whole new level in the virtual space.

Imagine a virtual top model as your personal shopper, or Formula 1 champion talking you through the features of a new car.

Speaking their language: Marketing in virtual space will require multilingual approach

Did you know that the global market for voice assistants is currently dominated by the English language.

However, other languages will grow in dominance over the next five years, with Juniper Research predicting that China, and therefore its languages, will lead the way.

So multilingual efforts may be needed by global brands in order to engage meaningfully and comfortably with customers in their own language within a virtual environment.