In-store retailers have been bullish on virtual reality for years, even if their plans for how to integrate it into their stores have been vague at best. However, one of the nation’s largest home improvement chains may have finally figured out a way to make it happen.
With the help of Microsoft’s new HoloLens virtual reality headset, Lowe’s is set to start a pilot program that will help in-store customers redesign their kitchens with new appliances, countertops and cabinets without ever having to compare paint swatches or lug heavy machinery to and from the store. Scott Erickson, general manager of Microsoft HoloLens, explained in a blog post that Lowe’s storefronts in Washington and North Carolina will be demonstrating the technology by the end of the month.
“Now, people can view, in lifelike realism, large items, like cabinets, appliances and countertops, in size and scale, with incredibly high-definition options and detailed finishes,” Erickson explained. “The holographic details are rich and allow users to even see the differences between shiny chrome appliances versus matte-brushed aluminum options. From within the nearly empty square frame of a showroom kitchen, customers can completely change the look and feel of that space — including adjusting the size and shape of an island and viewing virtual design options against physical counter stools.”
While customers will use the HoloLens headset to build out their dream kitchens on a generic showroom template, Erickson noted that his team wants to incorporate users’ at-home floor plans into the technology eventually. Depending on how fast Microsoft can roll out a more customizeable version of its HoloLens pilot program, Lowe’s and other retailers might start to see virtual reality as an integral part of their in-store selling strategies — or as just another gimmicky toy that just misses the mark in drawing consumers and encouraging sales.