LSA16: The Local Angle of Virtual & Augmented Reality

At LSA16 today, Christine Cline of Retale and Nathan Pettyjohn of Aisle411 gave an interesting look into the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) space and how it applies to brick-and-mortar stores. The technology is here and some studies say that virtual reality in particular will be a $30 billion market by 2020.

Christine gave a sense of some industries that are already embracing VR in a meaningful way. In the retail space, Merrell allows customers to try hiking boots on a virtual hike. In real estate, potential buyers are taking virtual tour of properties. And some automotive dealers are offering virtual experiences of new products.

From the AR perspective, Nathan started by providing the demo below:

He shared a Best Buy case study for finding a product while in-store using an AR experience. He went on to say that he sees four primary ways AR is ready for usage:

  • Pre-Planning: Consumers could plan a shopping trip, be able to take an actual furniture item and place it in a home to see how it will look. All of this creates a more educated shopper.
  • Marketing: AR allows brands to immerse consumers into a brand via a live event experience.
  • Virtual Store Planning: Some brands and major retailers are able to test layouts of new store before making the actual investment of doing so.
  • In-store Engagement: AR could allow more social engagement with products in a store based on other consumer data and sharing purchases with friends.

For Christine and Retale, they are still assessing the long-term potential vs. the immediate ROI with VR and will continue to test, learn and iterate. But both agreed, these technologies are inherently local, even hyperlocal, by providing experiences of actual places or things.

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