Virtual Commerce

The term virtual commerce (also v-commerce) is often used as a synonym for e-commerce. However, Virtual commerce goes far beyond that, however. In this way, purchases can take place in virtual rooms that have been specially created for this purpose. Thus, buyers find the purchase offer in a virtual reality (VR). Consumers are provided access to virtual commerce via the Internet. A prerequisite for virtual commerce is a functioning Internet connection.


When the Internet developed into a commercial platform, some people referred to it not just as E-Commerce, but virtual commerce. In an article from 1999 of the Harvard Business Review [1] “virtual commerce” is mentioned in the title, for example. The article itself lists Amazon as an example of virtual commerce and its consequences.

With the increasing possibilities of the Internet and the associated forms of representation, Virtual Commerce has developed from conventional e-commerce. Purchases no longer took place in a real environment, but could be handled in virtual rooms. A popular example of this development is the “Second Life.” This is a 3D world where users can live through an avatar. Second Life was released in 2003 and experienced great demand. In addition to just living in the virtual world, they were able to buy items or set up their home. Thus, Second Life was one of the first opportunities for virtual commerce.   Today it is possible in many online-based computer games to make purchases directly in the game. Thus, computer games are part of v-commerce. Virtual commerce gained a significant boost through the commercialization of Virtual Reality. Today almost every modern smartphone can be converted into VR glasses with the appropriate accessories. Thus, there is the possibility for users to visit “virtual stores.”

Classification into e-commerce[edit]

Virtual commerce can be viewed as part of e-commerce. By connecting to VR devices, V-commerce seems to be developing as part of mobile commerce.

Compared to traditional e-commerce, v-commerce has a lot more options. For example, online shops can present their products much better. The user can “enter” virtual rooms with the corresponding hardware.

In this sense, a shop in an inner city could only consist of 10 VR glasses, which customers put on at a certain place. The virtual reality is then generated at a fixed shopping location.  


In Germany, design students from the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences worked on a concept for a completely virtual shopping mall in 2014. A year earlier, Chinese entrepreneur Yihaodian developed an app, which was supposed to spice up the shopping experience virtually.[2] In 2016, a Chinese startup opened up a virtual shop in space to present its new smartphone. [3]

Benefits for online marketing[edit]

Nevertheless, “virtual stores” are still relatively rare and are hardly used by companies. With the further development of VR devices, however, it is to be expected that it won’t be long before you can try on clothes and pay for it in virtual shops with highly individualized sales processes, which are similar to those in the real world.  


  1. Getting Real about Virtual Commerce Accessed on 08/03/2016
  2. Virtual stores the next generation Accessed on 08/05/2016
  3. This Chinese Startup Set Up a Virtual Reality Store in Space to Sell Its Flagship Smartphone Accessed on 08/05/2016

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