While working in retail you might see virtual reality as an amazing opportunity, but wouldn’t necessarily know how to turn your ideas into a profitable part of your process. The technology can nowadays be applied to different points of the Value Chain, from store design to product showcasing: the uses are numerous.
Although virtual reality has been used in retail for years, the range of companies using the technology is growing. Companies such as eBay, IKEA, Alibaba and LEGO are gradually implementing virtual reality in their processes to support their retail activities. Many different virtual reality equipment are suited for retail related use cases, from helmets to immersive rooms (commonly called CAVE standing for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment). Helmets are ideal for use cases requiring little to no interaction outside of the virtual environment (design, single user testing through eye tracking tools, and so on…) and use cases for which the rendering quality is not fundamental. On the other hand immersive rooms are ideal for live customer testing (with or without eye tracking), collaborative design sessions, simulations, evaluation of customer reactions and behavior, and more. As a side note, beyond the equipment itself a suitable software is required too, such as Perfect Shelf by Dassault Système or the Kantar Retail software range.
Today, retailers already use virtual reality to facilitate the success of campaigns and product launches, to create new store concepts, to improve the effectiveness of everyday merchandising, and many more. The goal being to optimize customer shopping experience, and through this profit.
For example, the equipment pictured hereabove and available on the platform vr-bnb is an excellent illustration of such use cases. Through this immersive room professionals are able to design, test, simulate, evaluate merchandising tactics, storefront concept art, test any contact point with its customers and even revamp their shop as a whole.
On top of those use cases, any virtual environment allows you to immerse yourself in larger or more complex sales environments, such as airports, shopping centers or even city centers. Depending on the use case, as outlined in this article, the tool you’ll want to select is different.
Virtual Reality is not a future technology for retail, it is present and has been for a while, even students in retail related fields are being trained to use the technology. While the use is dominated by the major players on the market, it should be clear to professionals that the technology is now accessible to any retailer. Most are simply not aware of that opportunity yet.
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