Feb 1, 2023

The Future of Virtual Reality in Retail

Virtual reality was formerly an afterthought in retail technology. Customer-oriented and back-office VR deployments in retail were irregular, but largely successful, despite being perceived as too gimmicky to resonate with the ordinary consumer and hampered by cumbersome and expensive technology. The events of 2020,however, altered the trajectory of both the industry and the technology.

Initially, consumers have become much more VR-savvy. Due to the 2020 lockdown limitations, individuals throughout the world were compelled to seek out new kinds of at-home entertainment, and many opted for virtual reality, accelerating headset sales and VR adoption. In addition, as a result of the rapid response of the main IT firms to the demand, the market is currently flooded with high-resolution, six-degrees-of-freedom VR hardware that is more user-friendly.

Moreover, in the past year, customers have become more open to unique and interesting purchasing techniques, so long as they are safe and hygienic. In addition, the implementation of low-latency, high-speed 5G is gaining momentum, assuring the availability of uninterrupted, high-quality immersive experiences across the board.

Together, these variables facilitate the creation of retail-specific virtual reality applications and the enhancement of current VR software. Studies have also shown that consumers who've experienced VR shopping tend to increase their purchases of products more than those who shop without it. And as the technology improves, there will likely be a lot more retail applications for virtual reality. As such, retailers can't ignore this trend if they want to stay relevant in the digital age.

VR offers an immersive place in which users can engage with the digital worlds surrounding them, which means that you could have complete stores in VR, embed 3D copies of items in VR surroundings, and enable purchasers to change the design before purchasing, among other possibilities. According to a 2021 report by Analytics Insights, the prospects in AR/VR retail will be valued $17.86 billion by 2028.

How does VR work in retail?

As with the majority of VR applications, retail VR will utilize virtual reality goggles. Using a headset, buyers may enter a three-dimensional virtual environment where they can participate in activities with a brand that is impossible in the actual world.

For example, an AI-enabled digital person may guide the client through an immersive narrative experience explaining the brand's journey in virtual reality. They might also view and interact with anything before making a purchase, which is especially true for heavy consumer products like furniture and appliances. A consumer might assemble a piece of furniture virtually before attempting it in person. Customers should ideally be able to choose a product within VR and immediately begin a transaction.

Examples of VR being implemented by Top Retailers
Examples of VR in Retail

How VR is Transforming Retail:

Customers may try on clothing without physical contact. In the retail industry, contactless trials are considered one of the most important use cases for VR since the technology solves existing business difficulties. Customers are typically hesitant to try on previously used items due to cleanliness concerns. Purchasing clothing without a trial might potentially increase the number of returns and refunds, placing additional strain on merchant logistical systems. Customers may easily select and try on items from various retailers, brands, and price points within a VR environment.

Ultimate Customization through VR

In retail, customization is a primary driver of client pleasure, and in industries such as autos, personalization may make or break purchasing choices.

Customizing a product to a customer's exact specifications may be a hard undertaking that requires a great deal of back-and-forth communication, slowing the conversion process.

VR gives users easy, non-technical tools for refining the design of a product. They may easily display the product's 3D picture in virtual reality (VR) and add appropriate embellishments, color changes, and other elements without needing to master a specific design user interface (UI).

Increase product sales

It is a smart idea to introduce AR and VR to customers within a physical store as most customers have not yet used the technologies in their buying experience.

When clients visit a brand's shop, they may experience the brand in an altogether new manner using virtual reality thanks to a kiosk equipped with a headset and a content stream.

A retailer operating out of a very small location, for instance, may showcase its whole product catalog via virtual reality, and this app increases the likelihood that the customer will connect with the company via virtual reality in the future.

Stores that utilize virtual reality technology will increase revenue and drive foot traffic. Virtual reality enables an immersive 3D experience, immersing customers into different environments and allowing them to manipulate products they are interested in purchasing. This interaction before purchase is likely to facilitate impulse buying from consumers due to the increased sense of presence and realism virtual reality brings to the table.

Employee Training via VR

Virtual reality makes training for soft skills far more effective because retail performance depends substantially on shop employees' skill sets.

By simulating real-world circumstances in a virtual reality setting, retailers may train personnel to handle difficult client interactions and potential disputes.

Other areas that might benefit from VR include sensitivity training and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE & I) training, which could dramatically improve the customer experience in retail.

In the future, Virtual Reality will surely impact retail in two ways. Firstly, VR will be used as a sales-rep tool within stores themselves, to provide customers with a more efficient sales experience. From this perspective, it seems likely that VR training regimens could play a role in the retail industry's transition to becoming more "digitized".

The second way VR will affect retail is through ancillary applications. In other words, apps and games that allow users to experience virtual reality even when they're not at their local shopping center.

These would likely include some elements of social networking, allowing users to interact with each other in a virtual environment or even create their own experiences for others to enjoy. As you can see, there are multiple potential uses for virtual reality technology in the retail industry.

At Uncut Lab, we help businesses to be more efficient by improving their workflows. Our Custom Apps allow Retailers to monitor their businesses real-time. So book a discovery call today and set your retail business on the right track. 

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