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How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Retail Industry

by Albert Smith (writer), , June 10, 2016

Nowadays, consumers are looking for a more enriched and convenient experience for their shopping requirements.

Nowadays, consumers are looking for a more enriched and convenient experience for their shopping requirements. The traditional methods have undergone major changes over the years and newer innovations in technologies are being implemented to make this experience more relevant and satisfactory.

Virtual reality is one such innovation that has been creating waves recently. Owing to its promising potential, its implementation has extended way beyond the video games and into various marketplaces. Retail is one of them.

Retailers are increasingly taking notice of the opportunities that virtual reality opens up. Brands are already making use of this technology to lure shoppers and increase sales. According to a report by the digital agency, SapientNitro, “Virtual reality is going to fundamentally transform the human experience of shopping.”

Following are a few ways virtual reality can transform shopping.

Visit the Mall from the Comfort of Your Home

The way we shop has changed radically owing to the various innovations in technology. We can now scroll through images of the things we wish to buy, select the ones we like and place the orders from anywhere. Virtual reality is all set to enrich this experience.

E-commerce giant eBay has partnered with Australian retailer, Myers to launch a virtual reality department store. Compatible with both, iOS and Android devices, this app allows shoppers to browse through Myers products right from the comfort of their homes. The experience is similar to walking through the departmental store to select the products.

This app will adapt according to your choices as you walk through the virtual store selecting and rejecting items. Steve Brennen, senior director of marketing and retail innovation at eBay said, “At the moment, we've got it to the point where you can select, add it your cart, and then you're thrown to the eBay app to check out.”

Virtual Reality Fitting Rooms

Virtual reality is revolutionising the concept of fitting rooms by bringing garment trial right at your fingertips.

At the University of Technology, Sydney, scientists are working on a mobile app that will allow shoppers to 'try on' the apparel before buying them. The app uses a composite form of virtual as well as true reality to generate an augmented reality image of a person which can be used to try the garments on.

Professor Jian Zhang, one of the scientists developing this app pointed out, “In the future, we hope a shopper will be able to use the application to identify items they're interested in and generate a shopping list”.

Once launched, this app will help you try the garments without having to wait in the long queues outside the trial rooms. This would also boost sales since customers will hardly have a reason to leave the store owing to the frustration of waiting.

Adds an Experiential Aspect to In-Store Shopping

Apart from buying products, customers also expect other conveniences during their shopping spree. This is where virtual reality comes in. It provides an opportunity to provide real-time entertainment to customers while they shop. Virtual reality ushers in sci-fi entertainment opportunities to the shoppers. This tantalising aspect cannot be replicated by a computer or a mobile screen.

According to Ron Friedman, a retail expert at Marcum, an accounting and advisory firm at Los Angeles, “Retailers have been down for so long, they have got to differentiate themselves to get people to shop”.

Toms started out as a shoe company before it spread it wings into the coffee and eyewear. This company has been utilising virtual reality to take its customers on a trip to Peru as a part of its one-for-one campaign which involves donating a pair of shoe for every sold pair. Using virtual reality, customers are shown panoramic views of the schoolyard where the shoes are handed out to students.

“It just touches more of your senses. It gives you a more immersive experience - you really get the feel of motion”, Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms pointed out, “There is so much e-commerce today, you have to come up with a new reason to go to stores”.

Toms is in the process of creating and launching another virtual reality video recently.

With these applications quickly catching on, virtual reality is all set to become the future of retail. Virtual reality companies are coming up with new and improved methods to make this experience more enriched.



About the Writer

Albert Smith is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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