Why shop online when you can take a brief trip to California’s Yosemite National Park or the Moab desert in Utah and trek the landscapes while shopping for a windbreaker? What sounds like a dream vacation was in fact a campaign hosted by the outdoor equipment retailer, North Face. The in-store experience was limited to select stores in Chicago, New York and San Francisco and allowed customers to virtually teleport to some of the most breathtaking views in North America.
North Face started the trend, but what other retailers are adopting the power of virtual reality to help drive in-store sales?
Lowe’s, the home improvement and appliances retailer, has advantageously taken a stab at the VR. In 19 stores across the U.S., Lowe’s has added a futuristic twist to the often frustrating process of renovation. Lowe’s Holoroom allows customers to see a 3D mock-up of their remodelling plans, which has the ability to personalize room size and decor. It’s essentially giving Lowe’s products a test run, minus the effort.
The Swedish furniture chain IKEA has also opted to provide this type of experience to its customers. The pilot virtual reality app, the IKEA VR Experience, takes window shopping to the next level. It allows customers to step inside a virtual kitchen and test out how the appliances will work for them. The virtual reality system, created by HTC and Valve, even allows viewers to adjust their height enabling them to see their future kitchen from their perspective. IKEA’s first swoop into VR is also intended to help improve the company’s application of immersive technology for the home.
Despite the fact that the virtual reality industry is still in the early stages, its annual revenue is expected to grow from less than $1 billion to $30 billion by 2020. Furthermore, annual sales of headsets could potentially hit half a billion by 2025.
The use of virtual reality to elevate the overall in-store experience across retail outlets is a wise move, as brick-and-mortar stores need to do what they can to stay relevant.