Much has been made of the increasingly prominent role of e-commerce within retail — and rightfully so. A number of big-name retailers have dedicated both time and money attempting to challenge Amazon.com's market dominance. When it comes to keeping their brick-and-mortar locations around despite a flurry of e-commerce growth, retailers need to get creative.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology provides an opportunity to do just that.
In its latest study, “360 Consumer: How VR is reshaping the buying experience,” Worldpay surveyed over 16,000 consumers around the world on their feelings and experiences with VR/AR. Here’s a look at how this technology can help brick-and-mortar stores keep up with the competition, along with what retailers should consider before implementing it.
Boosting Boots On the Ground
VR/AR technology has grabbed plenty of headlines over the years, and shoppers are curious to see what all the fuss is about. Nearly three-out-of-four Americans surveyed would be interested in using VR/AR during their next shopping experience. Perhaps even more importantly, 54 percent of respondents want to use VR/AR technology in physical stores.
By following in the footsteps of retailers such as The North Face, brick-and-mortar store owners can attract more shoppers than ever before. The outdoor apparel chain gives shoppers the chance to test its winter apparel by strapping on an Oculus Rift headset and embarking on a virtual adventure. To generate similar excitement among consumers, Tommy Hilfiger introduced Samsung Gear headsets in many of its flagship locations. On top of browsing through the in-store selection, shoppers were able to take a virtual trip to the label’s fall fashion show in New York.
While the convenience of e-commerce is certainly enticing, VR/AR technology offers shoppers an immersive experience they won’t soon forget. From sled rides through wintry mountains to an up-close look at the season’s top fashion trends, retailers should consider how VR/AR technology can help transform their stores into go-to destinations for shoppers.
Showing, Not Telling
Seeing is believing — at least when it comes to retail.
Nearly 60 percent of consumers surveyed say the ability to visualize and experience a product in VR/AR would make them more likely to pull the trigger on a purchase. To help create an improved shopping experience that will ultimately lead to more sales, retailers are getting creative with VR/AR technology.
Lowe’s put this to the test by introducing the Holoroom, a VR home improvement design and visualization tool that lets homeowners create and experience the room of their dreams. Instead of wondering how certain products might fit together, shoppers can mix and match designs before ever spending a single dollar. In the same way Lowe’s uses VR/AR to give customers a peek at the finished product, retailers can use the technology to offer a personalized, intuitive experience that satisfies shopper demands.
Protecting Payments Data
A steady stream of data breaches — think Target or CVS — has caused many consumers to be wary of making payments with VR/AR technology. Only a quarter of consumers surveyed agree storing payment details in VR or AR is safe, while 37 percent of respondents agree purchasing items this way is not secure.
To help ease security concerns, retailers must work with payment processors to incorporate security measures that protect consumers — regardless of whether they make a virtual, online or in-person purchase. However, keep in mind that while new biometric technologies like retinal scanning may beef up security, it can also take time before consumers are comfortable using such measures.
Whether it’s increasing in-store traffic or enhancing the consumer shopping experience, virtual and augmented technologies are poised to leave their mark across the retail industry. By embracing VR/AR and identifying ways to improve virtual payments security, brick-and-mortar retailers can stay one step ahead of the competition — now and in the future.
Casey Bullock is general manager, North America, global e-commerce at Worldpay, a provider of secure payment services.