Give Virtual Reality in Retail a Look
Virtual reality in retail is here. The technology is more affordable than ever, and it offers retailers a unique opportunity to provide customers with immersive experiences. Two of the more popular devices, Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, are available at attractive price points — $99 and $20, respectively — and seem well positioned to rapidly become a regular part of shoppers tech gear.
Using a smartphone and virtual reality apps, viewing devices allow users to step into the world of VR. For example, viewers could explore outer space or sing onstage with favorite artists once tapped into the appropriate app.
The marketing applications are exciting. Brands in markets as different as hospitality and automotive, for example, can take advantage of immersive customer experiences. For instance, customers could explore the showroom floor of an appliance store, trying out various products and exploring different models. Likewise, a car shopper could not only visit a showroom and select a model, but take a virtual test drive as well.
A couple of years ago, British fashion retailer TopShop used VR technology to stir up excitement, engage customers and market its brand. Using a 360 panoramic video stream, TopShop offered a unique front-row view of their exclusive fashion runway show during London Fashion Week. The experience was part of a contest in which the winners experienced the show virtually, in a pop-up space at TopShop’s flagship London store.
From taking a test drive to viewing the cat walk to checking out a refrigerator, virtual reality in retail is one more tool retailers can use to entertain and engage customers. Some brands, have used it not only to amuse but to educate about the product. For a great example, check out Patron tequila‘s VR video. More than entertaining, the viewer learns the story of the product — from the agave field to the topped off bottle.
Omnichannel marketing is focused on providing immersive, personalized experiences. Virtual reality offers technology that does exactly that. It significantly increases the interaction between the brand and the shopper. Further, VR engages the shopper in such a way that motivates the shopper to share the experience, either face-to-face or on social networks. As a result, new customers are exposed to the product — and you have integrated your brand into a powerful marketing experience.
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