The retail shopping experience is incredibly dynamic and ever-changing. Technological innovations impact every facet of the shopping experience. When used effectively, cutting edge technology can be used to increase conversion rates and to further cement brand loyalty.
Imagine you are in a store that sells surfing apparel and equipment. The only issue is that it is below freezing outside. Welcome virtual reality, the apparatus to transport the shopper into the optimal buying mood. The in-store experience becomes that much more personalized and unique to the individual shopper.
GPShopper's latest research shows that virtual reality is high on the consumer consciousness scale (68%) but yet has not yet taken off in terms of retail adoption. A pain point for the adoption of VR is that it requires special headsets and hardware. There is, however, a catch-22 of the in-store retail experience. Retailers struggle to justify spending on in-store innovative technology because consumers are increasingly buying more online. At the same time, people have become more resistent to going to stores because the experience is subpar and non-differentiated.
VR, when done right, has the power to infuse excitement into the shopping experience again. Retailers like Ikea, Toms and North Face are already using VR to do just that, as pictured above at a Toms store in Venice, CA (photo cred LA Times). It's helping to turn browers into buyers as shoppers then look to purchase gear to continue the experience and feeling that VR is able to provide. Lifestyle retailers overseas are also testing it out. EE, a sport retailer in the UK, tested out virtual reality in four of their London stores last September. They partnered with BT Sport and allowed customers to view the Chelsea v. Arsenal match as it was happening live - with VR headsets and tablets - so they felt like they were part of the game.
Lifestyle retailers in the US should take a cue and test different methods out to see what consumers want from the VR experience here. With giants like Facebook investing and believing in the power of VR, the space is ripe for innovation.
Want to learn more on how tech is used best in retail? Download GPShopper's full Reality of Retail Tech report by clicking on the link below.