Will VR Drive Retail Environments in 2017?

On a recent trip to Phoenix, I was stopped in the airport by a virtual reality demonstration that Facebook was putting on. I had never tried VR out before, so I decided to see what all the hype was about.

In a nutshell, the experience was incredible. I started out in space, looking down on the earth, then I was on a small fishing boat somewhere in China. From there, I had Lebron James deke me out in basketball only to be transported back in time and face-to-face with a brontosaurus. Unreal! The full 360-degree experience made all of these environments seem very real and afterwards I couldn’t help but think of all the different applications this technology will have.

Redefine the Retail Environment

Personally, I believe that in time, shoppers that aren’t crazy about the crowds will not have to leave their house in order to shop. You might be saying, Well I can already do that!”. OK, you got me, you can already do this, but I’m thinking of physically shopping somewhere as opposed to just viewing an item online and purchasing it from the comfort of your couch on a lazy Sunday.

I’m envisioning being able to try on that new shirt or those new pants prior to purchase. Or maybe you’re shopping for some new furniture and you’d like to see what that couch looks like within your very own home. These are very routine shopping experiences that we’ll all go through on a fairly regular basis, however, at this point, we cannot evaluate purchases like these from home until we physically have that item on hand

Create More Informed Business Decisions

As a business owner, there are other VR applications that can help with in-store decisions prior to solidifying a strategy. If you’re opening a new store, you could virtually create it and then test drive your layout prior to committing resources. Maybe you have a current location but would like to pilot a change that you think will help drive traffic to certain areas within your store. You could virtually create this change and then pilot it with your consumers.

I truly believe VR will reshape our lives in many ways, from gaming impacts that will fully immerse you within the gaming environment to altering our retail experience in life-changing ways. While the concept of VR isn’t new, I can’t help but have confidence in its ability to stick around for good this time.

Curious about how VR may fit into your retail strategy? Need a visual? Tour our NRF booth for an interactive VR experience that illustrates how customers can explore and customize products based on their own personal interests.