Will VR Save Retail?

With a unique customer experience becoming ever more important in retail, virtual reality could play a significant part in those efforts.

That’s the case made in a recent story from Forbes, which examines the growing trend of virtual reality (VR) in retail applications, paying particular focus to a number of Samsung’s offerings.

The outlet shares that Samsung debuted a VR experience at select AT&T stores last week, which includes a virtual Carnival cruise for users outfitted with Samsung Gear VR by Oculus, which is linked to a sweepstakes for a real-world cruise.

Samsung’s latest VR offering, the outlet explains, is in step with the company’s efforts to attract consumers with experiences instead of just products. It points out that Samsung’s flagship store in New York, Samsung 837, in fact, carries no products at all but hosts experience-centric events that rely on interactive screens, a kitchen theater and a multimedia studio — all of which are designed to showcase Samsung products (VR included).

The Forbes story finds potential value in VR-based offerings in the retail space, pointing out, for example, that home improvement stores could present tangible home remodels, sporting good stores could provide immersive VR experiences of “in-the-moment” applications of their athletic gear and video game stores could serve as centers where consumers can try out the latest and greatest technology.

There are still downsides to the nascent tech, as the Forbes story also mentions, with the author giving the example of a less-than-satisfying virtual shopping experience that she recently demoed. In that it would require the consumer to have a VR headset of his or her own, that particular offering — and others like it — leave something to be desired in terms of outside-the-store applications.


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