Virtual reality is becoming so prevalent it’s threatening to overtake the real thing.
So the fact that it’s creeping into the retail environment should surprise no one.
Think people with their faces crammed into massive headsets loaded with increasingly sophisticated immersive software that’s transporting them to other places by the sights and sounds emanating therefrom.
A whack of different players — Microsoft, Samsung, Google and Sony prominent among them — are all fighting for a prominent berth in this new market. And why not? A recent study revealed that two thirds of consumers would be interested in so-called “virtual shopping.” No wonder Facebook recently coughed up $2 billion to buy Oculus VR, the company behind a prototype VR headset.
And lest brick-and-mortar stores fear this development is yet one more nail in the coffin of their traditional existence, virtual reality has something to offer them, too. Inside this environment, customers can try outfits on an avatar whose dimensions and proportions are exact reproductions of their own. They can find their size, pick their colour and even align their choices with what’s already in the online inventory of their current real-life closet.
Sephora has Pocket Contour, a virtual make-up artist app that lets consumers explore makeup tips on a mockup of their face.
And The North Face has recently introduced virtual reality software to some of its stores so that shoppers there can road-trip products they’re considering into the conditions for which they’re ultimately intended. In collaboration with cinematic virtual reality company Jaunt, stores in Chicago, San Francisco and New York now offer completely immersive 360-degree 3D video technology designed to transport consumers to Utah’s Moab desert and California’s Yosemite National Park, and to do so in the company of “North Face global athletes” Sam Elias and Cedar Wright.
Over the next stretch, the marriage between virtual reality and retail is destined to become more commonplace. Watch this space.