Virtual Reality, Retail & Customer Engagement
The evolution of Retail Industry is strong, steady, constant and is changing the way a customer is engaging with the entire model. The transition from a window display, corner outlet to large formats to use of virtual reality, augmented reality VR/AR to virtual stores has been extremely interesting. Today retail and technology are inseparable and are creating fabulous and exciting ways of engaging customers.
The retail industry is at yet another transition point, not related to options of fashion, choices, prices etc., but it’s the use of virtual reality commerce taking hold, brands looking to grow sales and increase brand loyalty in the future. VR commerce utilizes virtual reality, head-mounted displays (HMD), and smartphones/computers to both enhance and drive the shopping experience. It allows retailers to immerse consumers in custom-created worlds, marrying traditional online shopping elements with 3D experiences to increase consumer engagement. From home décor to apparel to lifestyle products, major brands have already taken note of this retail revolution and are offering VR commerce options alongside tried-and-tested techniques.
Not only the online retailers but even brick and mortar brands are also riding the VR/AR wave. A home goods giant recently unveiled its online virtual reality destination, which allows customers to experience in-store floor sets as if they were there, make purchases and have them delivered. Similarly, in some other part of the world, a home improvement brand is successfully experimenting the virtual commerce with holographic technology which enables customers to fill rooms set to their home’s dimensions with their products. Once customers put on HMD, they can shop to decorate each of their room, seeing first-hand what the finished product will look like.
It would be incomplete to discuss immersive retail trends without also mentioning the part augmented reality plays. While VR shopping experiences thrust consumers into new worlds, AR provides a stepping-stone of sorts by enhancing the world shoppers already live in. Utilizing the built-in cameras most smartphones are equipped with, AR allows shoppers to discover new products and learn more about ones they are already familiar with.
For the most part, when consumers walk into a retail establishment, they are faced with plentiful options, but not enough information to make informed purchasing decisions. Several brands have already recognized this issue and are implementing AR technologies to curb confusion and encourage sales. An outdoor recreation product company, for example, was one of the first retailers to blaze a trail in augmented reality assisted shopping. The company tasked sales associates in one of its stores to ask customers if they were looking for merchandise tied to a particular season — such as winter sports apparel — before offering them an HMD which would then place them in a snowy locale, with huskies!
By employing this sort of tactic, retailers that have implemented AR/VR technologies within overall sales strategies not only bolster consumer engagement and loyalty, but also increase the margins of the bottom line, by presenting shoppers with products they may have otherwise not considered.
In addition to many factors, the widespread adoption of smartphones has fueled immersive shopping trends. Majority of the customers use these mini-computers around on a daily basis, and with the AR/VR/360-degree support most modern mobile devices offer, it’s no wonder the eagerness to try out new retail experiences has grown. In fact, according to recent survey, over 75% of those surveyed, were strongly interested in virtual shopping.
While VR-commerce is still in its early days, it has already left a strong mark on the retail landscape. With early successes driving wider adoption among brands, it’s only a matter of time until shopping in a virtual environment becomes as ubiquitous as 1-click ordering. The companies who fail to adopt VR-commerce into future strategies, should prepare to face the fate of others that have fallen to the wayside as a result of failing to evolve. After all, profitable retailers always “give the people what they want,” and in this case, 70 percent of them want to use VR-commerce tools to try on new clothes and accessories – customized to their personal taste, of course.
I think the immersive technology or Digital Technology in Retail Store, Extended Reality XR, Mixed Reality MR, Augmented Reality AR, Virtual Reality VR, Holographs etc., are going to change the way we shop!
At Axon Networks we believe a part of this is already a reality and much more will change in no time, are you ready to leverage all of this to your advantage in many more ways?
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