Researchers at both Maynooth University and Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Software, are leading the development of virtual online stores targeting older adults.
Virtual stores provide an alternative way to shop online, enabling walk-through shopping in a three-dimensional environment, to a large extent, replicating the shopping experience in a physical retail store. Post Covid-19, many retailers across the world are developing virtual stores. Some Irish retailers such as the Kilkenny Group have recently launched virtual stores.
The researchers outline the seven design principles they have formulated employing focus groups and semi-structured multi-lingual interviews.
Rehan Iftikhar, Research Fellow at School of Business, Maynooth University, said that while consumers show a growing preference for a memorable shopping experience in interactive environments such as virtual store environments, over acquiring products on a traditional website, older adults (OAs) can find virtual stores difficult to navigate and use.
Professor Markus Helfert, Professor in Digital Service Innovation at Maynooth University, said the requirements of OAs have not yet been sufficiently considered in the design of most VR and augmented reality (AR) applications, even though these types of applications may help overcome certain aspects of age-related challenges and limitations they experience.
Gültekin Cakir, a PhD candidate and a Research Fellow at the School of Business, Maynooth University, said the seven principles take account of age-impacted vision deterioration and cognitive abilities such as processing speed, attention span and the recognition of letters and numbers and reading skills in the paper published by the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2021.
This new innovation is expected to increase consumers’ annual online spend of €4.2 trillion ($4.9 trillion).
This project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 765395 and was supported, in part, by Science Foundation Ireland grant 13/RC/2094_2.