Blog | 15 March, 2018

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How VR and AR will change the way you shop

The shopping experience is about to be transformed. The use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will virtually transport customers from their living rooms into retail outlets, to engage with the outlet, its products and its promotions on a whole new level.

There is a growing number of companies using VR or AR to enhance online experiences. VR technology creates a completely immersive alternate reality via a headset. AR, on the other hand, overlays virtual elements visually into physical space – you can watch a virtual robot roll across your real life coffee table, for example.

Sounds futuristic? Many retailers, in fact, have been using this technology for a few years – IKEA incorporated AR into its digital catalogues, so consumers can see what the furniture will look like in the home. EBay launched its own VR department store in Australia. Gap piloted an app, DressingRoom, which uses AR to enable users to try on clothes virtually. LEGO uses AR-powered kiosks in its stores—consumers scan a LEGO set and get a 3D look at the finished kit.

By leveraging VR and AR technologies, consumers are able to get a true feel for a place or item before making a commitment – taking ‘try before you buy’ to a whole new level. And consumers don’t have to do this on their own, the experience can be transformed into a social event.

Sitting at the computer to make purchases tends to be a solitary endeavour, but VR and AR has the potential to make online shopping a social event. Consumers will be able to shop with friends who are in different physical locations, or visit locations that are in different cities – or even countries.

These technologies allow people to explore products, have fun, access promotions and, most importantly for the retailers, provide that extra prompt for the customer to take the next step and complete the transaction.