Though it’s still not a month old, 2016 is shaping up to be a big year for virtual reality. Not only is Oculus preparing to release one of the more anticipated consumer VR headsets, but retailers too have grown more assured of how they can use the tech and how it’ll get more consumers to open up their wallets more often.
CNET reported that VR’s impending coronation as retail’s newest and shiniest toy was a major theme of the recent National Retail Federation’s Big Show, with digital marketing firm SapientNitro and luxury home goods retailer The Line offering a poignant example of how VR might fit into the average consumer’s life. By donning a headset in their own homes, consumers can experience how that new sofa might look up against a wall or if different colored upholstery might help the design — all they need to do is click a button on the side of the headset and their items are added to digital baskets.
For Matt Lewis, manager of SapientNitro’s Second Story group, the name of the game with VR at this point is showing customers that while the tech might be strange and unfamiliar, its steep learning curve doesn’t outweigh the benefits of a new kind of shopping experience.
“It’s just the start,” Lewis told CNET. “We’re trying to tell our customers that this is the next wave of technology.”
While consumers might have a bit of legwork to do to get themselves up to speed with VR, using the tech in this way isn’t entirely alien to retail. Merchants have used showrooming for decades to get customers into a more agreeable frame of mind as they contemplate their purchases. VR just allows them to scale that at a massive rate, offering each individual customer their own unique showroom experience without paying for it every time.