Management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting has compiled a report by speaking to over 1,000 early adopter customers regarding the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) regarding their preferences and desires in commerce and shopping.
The results of the report indicate that the best current approach is to integrate VR and Ar technologies alongside traditional brick and mortar stores. Seventy to eighty percent of early adopters were keen to test products using VR, or go on virtual ‘shopping trips’ with friends or relatives who might live in different cities, or even different countries. Some companies such as Lowe’s, The Gap and Alibaba have already begun to make strides with this approach, which the report dubs ‘V-commerce’.
“V-commerce brings the potential for entirely new shopping experiences and new kinds of added value,” says Dan McKone, Managing Director at L.E.K. “But there are risks for retailers — the initial investment is significant, and there are high costs for getting it wrong. Retailers need to do what they’ve always done — look to their consumers to point the way.”
The vast majority of customers surveyed indicated that they wished to use VR or AR technologies to ‘try on’ new clothing brands, or see what a new piece of furniture would look like in their house, similar to what is being developed by Ikea in partnership with Apple. There was also high demand for apps that would allow customisation options within VR, such as the Makeup Counter AR app by Meitu which allows customers to design the perfect make-up look before purchase.
“For retailers, the appeal is obvious,” says L.E.K. Managing Director Rob Haslehurst. “These technologies are a new way for retailers to do what customers want them to — create compelling shopping experiences and have rich communications with them.”
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