Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are gaining momentum. Even though we are still a long way from mass production, a broad range of potential applications for the technology has emerged in recent years. Especially in retail, immersive technologies can represent a quantum leap in the consumer experience. In an industry where the emotional brand experience is everything, AR and VR lead the customer even deeper into the brand world and help to place the dealer positively with the customer.
If you look at the various application examples on the market, you can quickly be amazed. But the fact is that very few people try on shoes or put furniture in their homes. Especially the classic “shopping” is still a process full of emotions. You want to walk through the shop and discover. But Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality can also help here and it is even expected. Almost 70% of consumers even expect retailers to launch an immersive application within the next six months.
If you look at the retail landscape, it quickly becomes clear that this goal is still a long way off.
AR and VR make brand experiences more accessible
“The North Face: Climb” 360 Video (Source: North Face)
Immersive technologies have already arrived in many areas. Be it in tourism, where couples are sent on a virtual honeymoon before signing a contract with a travel agency or in the real estate industry, where potential tenants can view the apartment virtually instead of actually. Especially with emotional products, such as automotive or fashion, immersive applications have meanwhile arrived.
In the Westfield Mall, for example, customers could view the latest fashion collections via headset. North Face, on the other hand, uses its customers’ love of nature and sends them via VR to Yosemite National Park while they are in business. This not only makes consumers want to go on their next trip, they can also buy the right outdoor equipment in the shop.
Whether it is the virtual test drives or the experience of a fashion show or an adventure trip, one thing becomes clear with these virtual reality examples. The technology is ideal for telling stories and catching people. The brand emotion can thus be transmitted in the best possible way. Be it relaxation, as hotel chains would provide for their tourism offers, or adventure, as North Face did. With VR, it’s right in the middle of it all!
Improvement of the in-store experience
Cisco StyleMe Virtual Fashion Mirror (Source: Cisco)
One of the biggest problems retailers face today is luring people into the store. Online shops like Amazon are now the standard way to shop in many categories, such as electronics. The store must therefore offer a unique experience that provides additional incentives to buy. According to current studies, augmented reality can offer this added value. It is said that 61% of customers prefer stores that offer AR experiences. 40% would even pay more for the products if they had the chance to experience it through AR.
But augmented reality at the point of sale has other advantages. This makes it easy to make products available to customers that are currently not even in stock. With the help of virtual or “magic” mirrors, customers can use a camera to see themselves and try on various products without searching the entire store for the right dress or suit.
If you like it, you can also take “screenshots” of some applications and take them home virtually to think about your decision to buy.
Store Design with Virtual Reality
Design a better instore experience with virtual reality and macro shelf planning (Source: Symphony RetailAI)
In a previous article I have already emphasized the advantages of VR for prototyping in the automotive industry. But it is also an extreme added value for retailers, especially in shop fitting. A lot of thoughts always flow into the shop design. Every product and every category must be strategically clever. From my media and marketing studies, I remember the detailed construction plans, why you place the fruit in the shop, as it stands and what psychological background there is. For the retailer, renovating the country is therefore not only very capital-intensive, but also very time consuming. With Virtual Reality you can avoid this cost trap by testing and testing every eventuality virtually beforehand. In this way, consumer acceptance can be tested in an innovative way without the need for continuous conversions during ongoing operation. After all, it is much cheaper to build a virtual shop than to design extensive test markets.
However, it will be a while before Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are firmly established in the stores of retailers. As already written in my book, it is necessary that retailers simply have the courage to try something new. The application examples shown are only a few that are currently available in the world. These experiments with the new technologies are necessary to help them achieve their breakthrough.
Post Picture: Cisco