Though it might look a bit far-fetched now, there is no denying the fact that virtual reality and retail are like a wonderful match that has been decided in heaven. There are literally dozens of areas and applications where virtual reality and retail can work in close tandem. Though it is a relatively new occurrence, the growth of VR shopping has been quite impressive, to say the least. This is because of a number of obvious reasons. Just to cite an example, when you have VR glasses as a customer one can really experience a product and only after that, they can decide whether it is worthwhile making the purchase or not. It not only helps customers but even the retailers stand to benefit from it. This is because retailers will be in a much better position to improve and give a fillip to their physical stores. In fact, today’s latest VR stores are an extension of the various innovative and technologically advanced VR applications that are suited for this particular industry.
How Does It Work?
When we talk about VR or virtual reality, it makes uses of technology and helps create a virtual world. Through this interaction of a different kind is very much possible and it can happen quite often. The technology though advanced is user friendly. It could be in the form of a special VR headset and it could either be Oculus Rift or HTV Vive. It is also possible to use a smartphone with a combination of gadgets and it could be Google Cardboard or may even find it suitable to use a special VR-equipped room.
Difference Between Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality
There are many people who often confuse augmented reality with virtual reality. There is no doubt that there are some common meeting grounds between the two. However, at the same time, there also is an important and major difference. Augmented reality has an additional layer over the physical world. However, in the real world, it is not visible even when we use the best of virtual reality technologies. Having said that, there is no doubt that both are very much on the rise as far as retail is concerned. It would be pertinent to mention here that more numbers of retailers are making it a point to equip their stores either with AR or VR installations. This goes a long way in enriching the overall customer experience. Many of them also develop specialized applications that can be used by consumers at home. However, there are many big retailers who use VR Technology for business purposes. To cite an example, they use it for optimizing the overall layout and space that is used in their stores.
Hence when we look at the above, there are reasons to believe that there are obviously a number of advantages and benefits associated with the use of virtual reality in the retail space. However, the proof of the pudding often lies in eating. Hence, it would be a good idea to have a closer look at some of the real-life examples of VR applications as far as the retail sector is concerned. We are therefore happy to share a few examples of successful VR applications as far as the retail sector is concerned.
The use of virtual reality and/or augmented reality in interior design is becoming quite popular. This is because it could go a long way in making the home not only look better but it could also make the whole process of interior decoration interesting and filled with fun. There are many VR apps that allow you to try out certain brands of furniture and fittings before you buy them. One such name is IKEA. They offer the facility of using VR in their catalog and it could be tried out from the comfort of your home. You can then directly purchase it from the sofa or other furniture that you may have chosen. In fact, another big retail chain by the name Lowe has gone a step further. It has created what is referred to as holo rooms. These are available in a number of its branches. The customers have the facility of putting their dream room together piece by piece. They can design their bath or kitchen and view the same in VR with the help of Oculus Rift in stores. They also are allowed to take a free Google Cardboard viewer home. This will help them to have a closer look at their room design, wherever and whenever they choose. This certainly works well for retail stores and they are able to lure more people into their stores.
Buy The Dream Car
There are some car showrooms and retail outlets that are presenting their customers with VR experiences. This was done by a company by the name DS Automobiles. They presented a unique VR experience to commemorate their 87th edition of their Geneva Salon. They used a 3D experience platform along with Virtual Garage and were able to create an awesome immersive experience known as DS Virtual Vision. They made us of HTC Vive, and through this, they ensured that potential customers were allowed to go through a virtual trip and were also allowed to have a look at a brand new SUV there. This experience is unique because it allows the users to literally sit in a virtual car and also make adjustments to equipment, colors, and decorations. Hence, there are reasons to believe that it could be the car showroom as far as the future is concerned.
It Could Help Choose A New Dress
Clothing vendors are also making use of augmented and virtual reality quite a bit these days. It would be pertinent to mention here that mirrors and virtual fitting rooms have always existed for many years. But there are some online fashion platforms like Mark Moda who have taken VR a step further. They have a huge collection of ready-to-wear looks cutting across stylists, brands, and users. This could help potential customers to have a better idea of matching new dresses with various other outfits and other accessories. It will also help them to add some new items to enhance their overall looks and appearances. These virtual dressing rooms help the customer to find out as to what is ideal for him or her and how a particular item could fit better taking into account the physique of the person concerned.
It Helps Create The Perfect Store
Arranging the layout of a store is not easy and there is quite a bit of science involved in it. There are many things to take care of and it includes displays and packaging, intelligent use of promotional material, and much more. All these are useful because they help customers to become more focused and more oriented. They need to ensure that every detail is taken into account in a highly competitive retail environment. There are some names like Mark. Space who are making very effective and smart use of realistic 3D objects and other such things. There is something different about Mark. Space. It is because they use digitized and real products and do not depend on simulations. They also make high quality and totally real 3D graphics as is the case with IDEA. Hence, there are reasons to believe that vendors, businesses, manufacturers and other stakeholders can work in tandem and come out with a virtual test space or store.
Shopping With The Help of VR
Going by the above few examples and taking into account the inputs from experts in this field, there are a few things that fall in place. Virtual stores are no longer just imaginary fairy tales. The day is not far off when customers will be shopping to their hearts’ content making use of VR. The first few steps have already been taken. It would be pertinent to mention here that the famous Australian retailer Myer has already opened the first virtual department store in the world. They have done it in collaboration with eBay and it was done last year. However, there are many who feel that it may not be the most pleasant thing to see from the graphical standpoint. However, this indeed is a great move because somewhere down the line, a beginning has to be made. There are many other big names like Alibaba who are taking a cue from eBay plus Myer and are coming out with their won methods of customer-shopping facilities making full and unbridled use of VR.
Hence, it is quite obvious that the day is not far off when customers will be able to walk through VR glasses, have a look at the various items and then pay for them as and when they pick up one based on their specific needs and requirements. It is quite obvious that VR shopping is going to be a reality in the next few years. It will certainly be able to add a new dimension to shopping. It will make it an out of the world experience. The growth of VR and AR markets will continue to be robust in the next few years. But there is bound to be pitfalls and challenges along the way and many feel unsure about it. There reasons though not fully logical are quite expected because the whole world of VR and AR is still in its nascent stage. Time will be the best judge as to which in the retail sector will stand the test of time and which will just be another gimmick.