How Virtual Reality can change the game for Retailers

Big brands like Ikea, Lowe's, Topshop, Samsung and North Face are turning to VR to sell products,boost their brands and make shopping more fun.
How Virtual Reality can change the game for Retailers

What if you could do a tightrope walk, dissect a human heart, and jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet – all in one afternoon?

VR or Virtual Reality makes this possible.

When we think of the word VR, the first thingsthat come to mind are games and 3D movies. However,VR is much more. VR’s applications are now endless … As endless as the human mind’s imagination.

You experience anything in VR. You can swim with dolphins or walk on Mars or watch a Madonna concert, all without leaving your home.

Only training pilots, surgeons and scientists earlier used VR. However the smartphone (which has become the main VR engine), a cardboard box and easily available VR content has made it accessible to almost everyone for nearly everything.

Goldman Sachs predicts that VR will become a $80 billion (yes eighty billion) industry by 2025.

Retail’s Next Frontier:

VR is the next big thing in shopping. All types of retailers are adopting different aspects of “experiential retail”.

* Big brands like Ikea, Lowe's, Topshop, Samsung and North Face are turning to VR to sell products,boost their brands and make shopping more fun.There is more shopper engagement, which leads torepeat business and profitability.

* Samsung has even stepped it up a few notches with its New York flagship store that carries no products, but pushes experiences. The store—called Samsung 837, for its address—is created to host events. There are giant interactive screens, a kitchen, theater and a multimedia studio. It’s a facility set up to celebrate experiences, specifically the experiences created and viewed on Samsung products. VR is a big part of that.

* Home Improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s are set to benefit as customers get an opportunity to visualize home remodels in a tangible way while sporting goods stores will be able to let shoppers test out athletic gear is something very close to the actual environment its meant to be used in.

* eBay is trying to take your spending addiction to the next level. Say hello to the world’s first virtual reality department store, which allows customers to browse through collections like clothing, electronics, and home goods as though you they were actually in a store.The brand new VR store boasts more than 12,500 products from Myer, which buyers check out using eBay’s Sight Search technology.

Now, all that users have to do is put on their “shoptacles” and they start shopping. To select a product, the customer has to hold their gaze on an item for a few seconds to select it. Its then added to the shopping basket. In the meantime, Sight Seach learns what you like and shows you more products as per your preferences. 

* McDonald’s has been giving away HMDs in some of their Swedish restaurants. The HMD allows the customers to play a game called “Slope Stars” – a 360 degree ski experience which teaches you how to stay safe in ski slopes. The game is endorsed by the Swedish National Ski Team.

* Canadian Tire, the Canadian retailer which sells a wide range of automotive, sports/leisure and home products have opened a 140,000-square-foot in Edmonton which includes more than 100 digital screens including many interactive ones.The automotive department includes a car simulator, allowing customers to have the opportunity to test drive tyres in different weather conditions.

* Fashion retailers like Tommy Hilfiger, Topshop and River Island are using VRs to show their season catwalks. So you could watch supermodels from close range via ramp side seats while sitting at home. Backstage moments are included.

  To coincide with the launch of the new Audi TT, customers can use a HMD to test drive the new car on both highways and crowded streets.

Many retailers are using a combination of VR and AR (or augmented reality) – where data is displayed on a viewing screen as you travel through a space.

*Japanese retailer Ikebukuro have trialled a virtual dressing room, which uses a camera to scan the customer’s body and browse Urban Research clothes and try them on virtually in the store using augmented reality.The screen in the virtual fitting room responds to the user’s movements in real time and simulates how the clothing moves and fits.

* UK department store retailer House of Fraser have introduced a shoppable window. Launched on Black Friday, customers can  unlockshoppable content through it’s ‘Scan to Explore’ feature on the mobile app. It allows customers to shop the best Black Friday deals in just a few clicks, avoiding the queues inside the store. People want to look at product information such as sizes and product composition without actually going into the store.

Virtual Reality Is the Next Frontier for Retail. But will VR save retail? Perhaps not but at the very least, it could get consumers out of their homes and into stores.

The article has been pen down by Anshuman Bhargava, Director & Creative Head, 'The Blue Leaves Design Group’

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