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Virtual Reality in Retail Industry

Virtual Reality in Retail Industry

The trend of Virtual reality (VR) is getting popular day-by-day and it has attained excellent response from users as well. In simple terms, virtual reality creates an environment identical to the real world, delivering an experience not feasible in normal physical reality. You can also understand it as a computer-generated scenario that functions to simulate experience by perception and senses. It is known that the Virtual reality technology may greatly influence the retail industry in near future; however, the technology needs to become more accessible with purpose to get off the ground and turn really scalable. There are various examples that depict that VR is an excellent solution for retailers whenever the matter comes to offer excellent shopping and brand experiences to customers.

In the present era where virtual and physical environments are quickly converging, retail industries are focusing to get useful touch point for marketing services and products to consumers.

New technology creates virtual brand experiences to be more accessible:

Virtual reality in retail industry is foreseen to be one of the next great things in the field of commerce, influencing the entire industry. The reason behind this is that it removes the restrictions of space and time, in order that retailers can envisage of different interior design and experience, even when they work against the law of physics. The concept of a ‘virtual store’ experience is extremely popular. It is entirely immersive as the virtual reality is only improving the real environment. It is certain that VR is much suitable for the brand experience and also retailers need to consider ways to build this within their shopping journey.

The drawback of the VR technology is that it needs hardware; therefore it is not straightforwardly scalable in any case until majority of customers don’t possess such devices in their house. This is not probable to happen any time soon. Though VR technology is not entirely new, many developers are now presenting hardware innovations almost every day.

The potential of VR technology in various retail categories:

One significant aspect to consider about the prospective of virtual reality technology in a particular retail sector is whether that definite category is sufficiently mature for it. For instance, the achievement in Automotive is because of the fact that the automotive industry has been directly related with technology and advancement. Some other categories like Beauty and Fashion and Accessories are popular for its ‘trend-setting’ accomplishments. The potential of VR in Furniture and Home Design sector is also great as virtual spaces can move imagination of customers and can be utilized in planning. There are some categories like Food and Grocery where VR does not fit well.

Try Before You Buy:

In addition to assisting retailers enhance their in-store experiences, VR is even assisting brands convey their stories to customers in a completely unique way and bring into line their products very explicitly through the environments they are made for. For instance, North Face smartly implemented VR to pose itself as a progressive firm which understood, and was entirely at home in classic environments. It is known that visitors to North Face stores were encouraged to put on VR headsets and travel California’s Yosemite National Park as well as the Moab desert together with climbing celebrities. Moreover, they are also requested to try winter gear in a severe cold environment.

Examples of virtual reality in retail industry:

Experts predict that in coming future, there would be prevalence of more virtual experiences like ‘weddings’, ‘holidays’ or ‘test drives’ to sponsor products and services. It is found that virtual reality has rapidly occupied Fashion and Automotive categories. For instance, Westfield mall used headsets to depict the recent fashion collection to customers. One of the greatest exciting examples was recently provided by outdoor apparel firm named North Face. By the help of virtual reality technology, the firm was capable to transport customers to Yosemite National Park as they were doing shopping at the shops. Moreover, they utilized footage shot with 360 degree i.e., stereoscopic 3D cameras. Also, the company asserted that it was an excellent way to improve their storytelling around a life of continuous exploration.

Benefits of virtual reality for online retailers:

Minimizes friction-
Frictionless transactions have constantly stayed on the top position of the goal list of the retailers, whether offline or online. Whereas in-app and invisible payments persistently improve the shopping experience, the perception for a complete frictionless shopping experience by the help of virtual reality presents an exciting future for the retail industry.

Valuable consumer feedback-
Comprehending the consumer journey, identifying drawbacks in your store, tracing hot spots for consumer navigation and inspecting the time spent for checking particular products – all these is quite possible with the help of virtual reality analytics. Irrespective of whether online or offline, store layout and product placement are significant for any retailer in the retail industry. Accurate analysis of the manner in which customers shop, right from navigational ways to line of sight when inspecting item options, allows retailers tailor the store layout. This is accomplished with the purpose to improve conversions, customer engagement, and facilitate retail mobility solutions.

Types of VR and anticipated costs to bring them to market:

Retailers turned curious through the arrival of VR. Moreover, they started discovering approaches to incorporate it into their business plan. However, before retailers get deep into it, it is significant to comprehend the role it would perform along with the costs involved. For affordable implementation of VR into retail industry, proper answers to below questions would help:

What are you attempting to do from an engagement perspective?
How does VR connect with prevailing marketing approaches?
In what ways does VR supplement or complement your marketing approach?

There also are two extensive approaches to VR: The first type of VR is 360º videos, recognized as excellent one for conveying real-life stories, travelling the places and rapidly transporting and diving people deep into a marketing message. It is found that the requirements and related costs for these assets comprise of:

The fundamental video production costs to develop the content.

Live action production, varying from approximately $30K to $50K for basic executions and approximately $50K to $200K for more complex effects.

Post-production costs break down after live action content gets confined, varying from $20K to $250K and even higher, based on the particular creative components of every production.

Tools to provide 360º videos comprises of the customer’s smartphone, VR headsets, and social channels, mostly all social channels presently supports 360º video content, and also they are well-known.

On the other hand, the second category i.e., Interactive VR productions, enable customers to completely interrelate with a product. In order to develop Interactive VR experiences, it is likely that you need to generate the entire world that you intend you users to immerse into along with designing and programming the interactions as well as workings of the experience. Depending on the creative direction as a whole, production scope, plan to develop it, platform as well as delivery info, you can anticipate more than software developers, animators and 3D artists, sound engineers and composers, level designers, Q/A Testers, writers, and production support functioning on one production. It is known that such kinds of productions can begin from $100K and can reach. Possibly, it can reach to more than $1M.”

What Virtual Reality allows retailers to do?

VR helps retailers to do following tasks:

Make macro-level changes instantly

Develop and visualize in-store retail concepts

Perceive how latest displays and signage would appear in absence of physical mock-ups

Identify what will entice the shopper’s attention, and produce sales prior presenting a new concept into the market

Facilitate fulfilment by conveying contemporary concepts as well as directives for in-store implementation through the help of immersive virtual simulations

Developing new retail concepts to optimize the shopper experience:

Retailing has become a tough game in present era. Right from grocery stores to office supply and specialty stores, it is known that the challenges are identical. Aspects like competition from online medium, contracting margins and a progressively informed customer base implies that you are putting great effort than ever to convey a shopping experience that lets shoppers come in and also helps them to continue coming back. The VR solutions are capable to provide you the flexibility to develop and iterate your concepts into a virtual world, removing time-intensive physical build-outs as well as configuration alterations. Through the help of cloud-based virtual reality simulations, you can develop and implement optimal store as well as aisle layouts in rapid and simple manner.

Facilitating the Customer Experience:

Virtual marketing as well as sales channels serve customers with a communicative and personalized experience that has inundated the online shopping’s sales conversion. Innovations in the application of virtual reality in the field of e-Commerce delivers the ‘try before you buy’ kind of experience for shoppers. It is known that this was earlier only accessible during brick-and-mortar shopping expedition.

Concluding Note:

In different categories of retail industry, Virtual Reality has by now benefited a lot. The technology is predicted to take over the entire retail industry in near future.

Stuti Dhruv

About The Author

My name is Stuti Dhruv & I am senior consultant at Aalpha, primarily working on pre sales, consulting with clients on latest technology trends.