Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are changing many industries, including healthcare, training, education and manufacturing. A new report by data and analytics company GlobalData suggests that immersive technologies are now set to transform the retail sector.
According to GlobalData, AR can be used to guide customers around stores, provide information about products and support employees, while VR can be used for immersive product demonstrations.
The report notes that AR can help employees in stores and warehouses by providing practical information while keeping hands free by using equipment such as AR smartglasses. By contrast, VR can be used for immersive training scenarios.
Companies have already begun engaging with the technology, such as IKEA creating a high-definition showroom that uses 3D VR to showcase its products. In a similar way, L’Orreal have set up a Make Up Genius bar in its Paris store that lets woman can test out various make-up looks using AR technology.
Andreas Olah, Digital Retail Analyst at GlobalData, says: “AR and VR have been tested in retail for a while, but have only been implemented in a limited way so far. However, this is expected to change as major supermarkets, department stores, fashion retailers and DIY stores look to roll out them for various purposes, from in-store navigation and virtual apparel trials to product demonstrations, games and interaction with virtual shop assistants. Furniture retailers are also expected to compete more intensely on AR for projecting furniture into customers’ homes to encourage online purchases and reduce the rate of product returns.”
Other major retailers have also begun embracing VR and AR technologies, such as Tesco, Carrefour and Kroger, while Walmart has gone a step further by acquiring a small VR start-up firm called Spatialand to extend its efforts in VR to transform the shopping experience.