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Extended Reality takes on Retail

Aug 5, 2021 | Business News

With retail largely put on hold for the past year, its recent re-emergence has raised questions about how it will compete next to the newly streamlined e-commerce platforms that have enjoyed centre stage for so long now. Now that you can shop from any device and any location, the retail industry will have to step up its game if it wants to keep enticing consumers to visit physical stores and enjoy an in-person experience.

Extended reality technologies have been on the rise for several years now and we have seen some hugely successful products launch as a result of this – PokemonGo deserves a mention for its captivating engineering of augmented reality that actually got people to leave their houses and explore their local areas with their phones. But how can retail achieve this?

Imagine you visit a modestly-sized IKEA branch in a busy high street – these usually function as places for consumers to collect pre-paid items – except this time, you are invited to visit the entire IKEA showroom … using virtual reality. You could visit it with your partner or friend and perhaps access metatags and buttons to select different furniture types and sizes so you can see with your own eyes and in perfect proportions any combination of product across the entire store. 

But before we assume that extended reality might only improve our in-store experience, have you thought about this; the possibility that the same technology might improve e-commerce? At the moment, e-commerce’s limited ability to show you a few angles of a product makes up for the fact that the digital store is in the palm of your hand. But if you could see before your eyes the product in its real proportions using either augmented or virtual reality, you open up the opportunity for e-commerce to once and for all end the need for physical retail stores. 

Consumers want to see products in real time and space – physical stores have the space but take too much time, and e-commerce solutions are time-friendly but lack the space. Virtual reality could be the innovation to close this gap and continue to change the way we shop forever. 

Arcstream has already delivered some interactive retail experiences that have sought to maximise the consumer journey, experimenting with augmented reality to do so. For example, we worked with Accessorize and Kite to create in-store “mirrors” that allowed consumers to try on products using augmented reality. This fun and immersive way of allowing consumers to try on products was hugely successful in improving the quality of the retail experience and in allowing Arcstream to explore the sphere of ‘interactive retail’.

Retailers must continue adopting experiential solutions to keep consumers engaged with physical shopping experiences; extended reality tools are fantastic in augmenting physical experiences but there is certainly scope for this to also influence e-commerce platforms with more realistic product previews. Extended reality has the power to transport an individual from wherever they are, be this in-store or at home, so it’s now a race to see which side of retail shopping will achieve improving the customer experience first.

 

[Image credit: https://www.bernardmarr.com/default.asp?contentID=1942]

 

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