When will AR and VR become “realities” at retail?
Despite a ton of hype, applications for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) remain hard to spot at retail.
One challenge is making sure any the sci-fi element complements rather than disrupts the current shopping experience.
“Retailers need to consider how and why they’re using virtual reality and be confident any experience they create complements their marketing and communications and in-store strategies,” Gill Worby at Virgin Media recently told the U.K.’s Retail Week.
In a column for Harvard Business Review, Dan McKone, a managing director at L.E.K. Consulting, advises retailers looking to develop a virtual commerce strategy to identify the customers who would like an AR or VR solution and then establish a value proposition to justify the investment.
“Explain how the application solves the consumer’s problems and naturally extends the brand’s connection to the consumer,” Mr. McKone wrote. “A sporting goods store can focus on virtual tryouts of a new tennis racquet, for example, creating a point of differentiation from a mass retailer at which sporting equipment is an afterthought.”
The costs of any tech investment are always an issue and the many hardware choices out there can overwhelm retailers.
”Even smartphones and iPads can be used for AR and VR experiences,” Beck Besecker, CEO of virtual and augmented reality firm Marxent, recently told Stores Magazine.” Some of these will stick around, some will fall by the wayside — and all of them will evolve over the next three to five years.”
Indeed, a panel at NRF’s 2016 Big Show appeared to agree that many existing technologies, including smartphones, could go a long way in blending the online and in-store experience.
According to Sourcing Journal, Chris Riegel, CEO of Stratacache, told the audience, “Show me a chain retailer that’s going to roll out VR and I’ll show you a CIO that’s going to be out of a job in two weeks.”
- Retail surgery: How can virtual reality enhance the in-store experience? – Retail Week
- Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Reshape Retail – Harvard Business Review
- 5 Trends That Are Radically Reshaping Shopper Marketing Brands take retail real-time with VR, beacons and other tactics – Adweek
- How retail stores are using virtual reality to make shopping more fun – Los Angeles Times
- The Future Is Now – Stores Magazine
- NRF: Forget Virtual Reality, Use Technology That’s Available and Proven – Sourcing Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice would you have for retailers looking to develop an AR and/or VR strategy? Do you agree with those who think AR and VR will transform the shopping experience?