Virtual reality gives Aussie small businesses a new way to sell

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At today’s Xerocon South conference in Brisbane, attendees were given a glimpse into the future of shopping and retail experience.

Powered by Xero, Cloud St is a pop-up store exclusively for online only retailers with a different business popping up each day. Cloud St provides a bricks-and-mortar presence for those that don’t have one — a physical space and the ability to connect to their customers in person.

The pop-up store launched to more than 2000 accountants and bookkeepers from Australia, New Zealand and Asia at Xerocon South with an immersive virtual reality experience. Attendees at the store were given a VR headset to wear and explore a virtual retail storefront for small business innovators bellabox, Homely Creatures and Holy Funk.

They will see a pop-up store featuring products from all three retailers, as well as a virtual chat with bellabox founder Sarah Hamilton, and a makeup artist giving a makeover to a customer.

This is the second phase of Cloud St, with its initial appearance at the 2015 holiday shopping season in Melbourne’s CBD producing big results for small businesses:

Homely Creatures saw website visits up 34 per cent, online sales up 18 per cent, and overall sales doubled.

Holy Funk saw a significant boost in website traffic to their website during Cloud St, with traffic remaining higher for the rest of December, and increased on the same corresponding period the previous year. Sales increased 70 per cent from the same period one year earlier.

Revenue generated for beauty subscription leader bellabox through the pop-up store was three times their daily average revenue. Their offline brand activation successfully drove shoppers to their website to transact.

Sarah Hamilton, founder of bellabox, said: “Cloud St allowed us the chance to offer a full bellabox experience, by going offline to engage with customers in person. This included offering busy time poor locals the chance for ‘me time’ and discover new products through advice and therapies.”

Small businesses that are using Xero are able to enter the competition now via the Cloud St website. The Cloud St pop-up store will tour from Brisbane, where it launches in October and will travel down the east coast where it will finish up in Melbourne and will be supported by an advertising campaign.

Commenting on the initiative, Andy Lark, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer at Xero, said, “Technology has changed the retail landscape and Cloud St is great example of the fusion between the offline and online environment. We’re taking it a step further this year and incorporating a VR experience, showing small business customers from Richmond to Redfern a sneak peek into the future of retail.”

Chloe Potvin
Chloe Potvin is a contributing small business writer for Kochie's Business Builders.