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Virtual reality, largely touted as the future of retail is a phenomenon wherein brands create fully immersive, contextual experiences that reach beyond existing physical and digital channels. This new – and fantastically, almost real, and tailored – shopping experience has been dubbed v-commerce.
Retailers are venturing into v-commerce for the same reason that they are providing consumers with value-added services – to steal the show from online shopping. There is no concept of space and time and retailers can transport consumers into any reality that contains their product.
The global augmented reality application in retail and e-commerce is expected to reach $14.07 billion by 2020 growing at yearly rate of 96.9 per cent according to report by MarketsandMarkets, a global market research company headquartered in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Data from CCS Insight’s ‘Augmented and Virtual Reality Device Forecast, 2015-2019’ reveals that the market for mobile augmented reality and virtual reality devices will reach $4 billion by 2018.
Here are a few global retailers who are dabbling into virtual reality to provide convenience to their consumers.
JCPenney’s Virtual Reality is mostly about branding, highlighting the fact that the store carries popular brands like Nike and Kitchenaid. Christmas of 2015, the Plano, Texas-based retailer launched a VR experience that transported consumers to the North Pole, where they interacted with elves, reindeer and snowmen, all with the help of an Oculus headset.
In April 2016, IKEA announced the release of a pilot virtual reality app, the IKEA VR Experience, on Valve’s world leading game platform Steam. The test app brought the consumer into a virtual kitchen that was real world size. Using an HTC Vive headset, consumers used the app to explore one of three differently-styled kitchen room settings.
Home improvement chain Lowe’s has added a VR experience – Holoroom – in 19 stores to help customers remodel their kitchens and bathrooms. Shoppers can see a 3D mock-up of their renovation plans and personalize the space using individual equipment, and colors and finishing. The room with the aid of an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset can also be filled with Lowe products.
Toms, which started as a shoe company before branching into eyewear and coffee, installed Samsung VR headsets in more than 100 outlets to show non-believers that they were actually providing shoes to needy children in Peru. The video depicts a trip to Peru as part of the company’s popular one-for-one campaign, in which it donates a pair of shoes for every pair it sells; viewers can see a video with panoramic views of a schoolyard as children are handed boxes of shoes.
Outdoor recreation brand North Face rolled out a virtual reality video in 2015. Using Jaunt headsets, the company invited shoppers (and browsers) to go on a virtual rock-climbing expedition in Yosemite and the Moab Desert in Utah, along with global athletes Cedar Wright and Sam Elias.