Could Retailers Use AR And VR To Boost Sales?
The race for Christmas sales is on and the first of the big retailers have released their Christmas adverts, with plenty more to come in the next few weeks. But with our viewing habits changing and fewer people watching live TV while a growing number are paying for subscription services, is it time for retailers to mix things up?
There’s certainly a lot of exciting technology out there at the moment that forward-thinking retailers can take advantage of, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
An article in Forbes recently highlighted how John Lewis, who produce one of the most hotly anticipated Christmas adverts every year, have taken a step towards this kind of technology.
In fact, the retailer first used VR technology in its 2016 Christmas campaign, when it had in-store and at-home VR versions of its advert that allowed people to interact with the animals that appeared in its commercial.
Last year, John Lewis went down the AR route, creating an AR filter app for its Moz the Monster campaign. Using the app, people could turn themselves into the friendly monster featured in the ad, and share the results on social media.
But this year John Lewis is unlikely to be the only big brand that’s embracing this technology. Writing for Forbes, Sol Rogers, CEO and founder or REWIND, noted that Lego is expected to release its own AR filter app to coincide with the company’s first ever global Christmas campaign.
Adidas, meanwhile, was also highlighted for its use of AR earlier this year when it used the technology to help sell its limited edition trainers at ComplexCon in Long Beach, California.
Consumers are looking for greater engagement from brands and a chance to interact with them, which makes this kind of technology ideal.
However, Mr Rogers suggested that it’s VR that could make a real difference to the shopping experience. “With retailers looking to stand out and keep consumers in stores longer during the competitive shopping period, virtual reality offers something unique and memorable,” he stated.
One example given was a VR sleigh ride experience that’s being offered at a retail complex in Singapore, where shoppers were immersed in a Christmas-themed land. Far from being passive observers, they’re encouraged to interact with the environment and help Father Christmas collect presents.
There’s growing evidence that customers like stores that utilise AR and VR technology too. Fibre2Fashion recently shared the findings of a study by Incisiv, which found that almost half of consumers are more likely to shop in a store that offers VR or AR than one that doesn’t.
What’s more, the survey found that one-third of retailers plan to introduce this kind of technology to their stores within three years.
It’s clear, therefore, that there’s likely to be growing demand for commercial 360 VR and other VR content in the near future, and that it’s a trend consumers are already embracing.
In the US, Macy’s is one of the latest stores to announce its VR ambitions. It’s in the process of rolling out a VR experience across 70 of its locations in the States, as well as launching an AR app that can be used in people’s homes.