We are living in a virtual world. Well, almost. As the digital world continues to evolve, we’re able to interact with consumer innovations that would have been unfathomable even a decade or so ago.
In the modern age, things are getting ultra-techy. And, without a doubt, one of the most disruptive of all recent trends is immersive technology.
The likes of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming regular fixtures of our everyday lives, changing the way we interact with the world around us.
Immersive technology is on the rise. In fact, by the end of 2020, experts predict that the AR and VR market will be worth a whopping $15.6 billion. Plus, last year alone, around six million consumer VR headsets were sold worldwide (yes, you read that right).
Of all of the industries that immersive technology has transformed in recent times, brick-and-mortar retail is perhaps the most notable (particularly if you’re a tech-hungry gadget hunter).
In this blog, we’ll look at how the likes of VR and AR are changing the traditional brick-and-mortar store as we know it.
Buckle up, because things are about to get futuristic…
1. Omnichannel experiences
Omni what, you say? Immersive technology has reached a stage where the gap between the digital and physical world has been well and truly bridged.
Rather than creating separate shopping experiences on separate channels or touchpoints (in-store, in-app, social media, etc.), many of today’s brands have mapped their customer journeys to connect everything up.
The result? A cohesive and immersive consumer journey that makes the brick-and-mortar shopping experience all the more rewarding. The next time you’re in a store, look around you. Are there screens to browse? Does your mobile app deliver exclusive content to your phone as you browse the store? You’re in the middle of an omnichannel adventure, my friend.
2. Immersive technology apps
After you’ve browsed the aisles of your favourite brick-and-mortar store, you might find that there’s an immersive app on offer. A mobile application that places you at the very heart the heart of the shopping experience.
Take IKEA Place, for example. Not too long ago, the Swedish flatpack giant launched its very own AR-powered app—an innovation that proved to be a roaring success.
The intuitive app encourages users to immerse themselves in the brand by allowing them to place items of furniture, virtually, in a particular room in their home. A tech-powered ‘try before you buy’ kind of deal.
An inspiring feat of immersive creativity and an app that according to IKEA’s head honcho, marked an exciting new chapter in IKEA’s digital transformation journey.
3. In-store VR
Yes, in-store VR experiences do exist, and you should try as many as you can.
Virtual reality experiences thrust the customer into the heart of the action, empowering them to get up close and personal with a brand and everything they have to offer.
This year, we expect an increasing number of high street players to jump on the VR bandwagon. In the meantime, here is an unlikely example from traditional retailer, Marks & Spencer…
In collaboration with Mindshare, M&S created a pop-up VR experience that uses Oculus Rift and Leap Motion technology, thus allowing shoppers to create their ideal living space through physical interaction. A concept that was not only well-received but offers a glimpse into an exciting new future in retail.
4. Enhanced customization
In addition to the mind-blowing sci-fi-like consumer experiences immersive technology offers, the ability to interact with an increasing number of gadgets, gizmos, and touchpoints also offer another bonafide brick-and-mortar benefit.
As you engage with VR tech and AR-powered apps, you will essentially build a profile that helps your favourite brands to customise your shopping experience completely to you.
A devoted shopper, you deserve to have personalised deals, discounts, and in-store product recommendations delivered direct to your smartphone. You deserve content that answers your burning consumer issues head-on and inspires you in more ways than you ever thought possible. And, with immersive tech, you will.
By engaging with immersive technology, you will find that your shopping experiences will become increasingly tailored to you. Welcome to the new age of retail.
We are living in exciting times. This year, immersive technology will continue to transform the brick-and-mortar retail experience even further, and as a tech-savvy consumer, you have everything to gain. So, get out there and start interacting.
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