Virtual tours, shops and trade fairs: which is the best for you?

virtual booth cover

This post is also available in: Italiano

The COVID-19 emergency has disrupted the traditional systems of relations between brands and customers, turning online presence – which many considered only an alternative instead of an integrated experience – into a need.

Let’s shed some light on the different terminology that populates the virtual field, in order to outline the solution that may prove to be the most suitable in satisfying a specific business need. The scope is quite broad but it essentially boils down to virtual tours, shops and trade fairs, which we will examine in this overview.

Virtual Tour – the online digital experience

Available on the market for many years, virtual tours are the common thread of online experiences and are widespread in various business sectors. Conceptually inspired by video games which make any environment interactive and navigable, virtual tours immediately spread to those contexts where the main goal is to capture the attention of the public, with an online preview of what can be seen live. This is the case of virtual museums and tourism promotion projects.

From 360° images to real 3D environments explorable in real-time, the first virtualisations in the promotional field were a source of inspiration for many other sectors, where the virtual experience could generate involvement that served the marketing and sales strategies of companies.

Specifically, in the enterprise context (B2B and B2C), it would be very limiting to imagine a context in which the digital experience only reproduced the physical one without any added value. Digital tools can in fact add an extra layer of services which make traditional processes much more efficient. Here are some examples:

  • Photorealistic 3D environments, even fictional ones;
  • Products displayed in real-time 3D and augmented reality;
  • E-commerce and product wishlist;
  • Multi-presence and collaboration – human-to-human contacts (video chat) and online assistance (remote control);
  • Planner and appointments’ management;
  • Multi-device support for mobile and desktop browsers

Virtual Shop – the best solution for e-commerce

Among the various special cases of virtual tours, there are virtual shops, often presented as real flagship shops where new collections can be showcased and customers can customise the products before finalising the purchase.

Brand awareness and the ability to engage the audience are key elements in ensuring the success of e-commerce. This concept can be applied to very heterogeneous business models, both in terms of type and volume.

A virtual shop designed and built effectively can achieve two fundamental objectives:

  • Supporting the omnichannel strategies of companies with an online-to-offline connection which makes the brand-customer relation broader and more engaging;
  • Creating e-commerce solutions with a high-quality presentation of the product to reduce the perceptual gap between the virtual and the real product.

Virtual Booth – the best solution for online events, and beyond…

The virtual connection of multiple brands allows for the set-up of virtual trade fairs, very similar to physical events in purpose and organisation. Virtual spectators can attend them online, visit the stands, discover the most interesting products and interact with the exhibitors’ sales representatives to find more information and, eventually, place their orders.

If on the one hand, the online experience cannot fully replace the intangible aspects of the events that accompany trade shows – exclusive moments in which public relations express their inherent value –, on the other, digital tools can make the virtual visit in some ways more efficient than the physical one – as travel time is eliminated, it is possible to attend a broader programme, increasing the potential of scouting, whilst costs are significantly lower thanks to the absence of travels.

The Covid-19 emergency has substantially sparked an overall renewal process. Virtual trade fairs have revealed the potential of online multi-presence, a digital possibility that paves the way for a new generation of hybrid, decentralised events, without limits of time and space, which can reach a global audience and create new connections for the brands.

Virtual Interactive Showroom: Protocube Reply’s proposal

The secret for an effective virtual event consists in knowing how to involve and excite users, making their experience exclusive, regardless of whether it is an online or face-to-face setting. To achieve this goal, Protocube Reply has developed a dedicated 3D platform, the Virtual Interactive Showroom, which ensures a realistic and engaging experience with user interaction on multiple levels.

Through different applications, Protocube Reply’s Virtual Interactive Showroom can satisfy all the needs in the B2B and B2C fields for companies that intend to position themselves effectively and support their communication and sales needs.

Virtual Interactive Showroom integrates advanced functions such as augmented reality and video calls to assist the customers’ virtual visits (credit: Reply)

For further information on virtual events, we recommend reading the following articles:

This post is also available in: Italiano

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Francesco La Trofa

Francesco La Trofa

Architect and journalist with 20 years’ experience in 3D technologies.
Consultant to public entities and 3D businesses for aspects relating to design and communications.
Head of editorial content at Treddi.com and co-founder of Digital Drawing Days, the only event of its kind in Italy.
Actively involved in research and teaching at Milan Polytechnic.
Edits 3D STORIES for Protocube Reply.