The New Window Shopping…ith Virtual Reality
Window shopping is something that millions of Americans and people throughout the world do every day. But, the way they do it may be changing soon.
Looking at a retailer’s products online is cool, but it’s not virtual reality. The difference is that in virtual reality immerses the shopper into the store or car dealership or showroom for example.
For purchases such as clothing and food, virtual shopping could get rid of the need for people to leave their homes.
Victor Lee, Hasbro’s Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing, said, “You can go into the store, but you can do it from the comfort of your own bed. You can try [clothes] on. Want to go further? Take [an item] out of the box, and when you’re done, drag it into this cart and you’ve bought it. And you didn’t have to put your hands on it. That’s what VR is going to do. It’s going to change retail.”
Retailers across the country are getting prepared as well. SapientNitro showed their virtual shopping experience at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show this past January. SapientNitro’s experience puts people in a nicely furnished SoHo apartment and they’re able to obtain the pricing and additional information about the furniture pieces by simply staring at them. They can then tap to add the furniture to their cart for purchase.
SapientNitro partnered with Sixense’s vRetail, a platform that’s combining brick and mortar shopping with online shopping.
Here’s another example… People using vRetail are in a women’s shoe store with lots of shoes to view. They can virtually “pick up” any of the shoes to look at them from any angle and then “toss” the shoes on a mannequin so that they can see what the shoes look like with different outfits.
Lowes has a different approach as for virtual reality shopping. They see it as customers walking virtual aisles of a store the size of a warehouse as they search for a wrench, for example. Lowes calls it a “Holoroom” which they now have at 19 locations across the United States. Customers at those Lowes locations are able to design the kitchen or bathroom of their dreams and then order it fast and easy to make that vision real.
Kyle Nel, the Executive Director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, said, “Home improvement can be complex, and we know customers are looking for solutions that help simplify the process and allow them to experience the end result during their decision-making process.”
There are also companies that aren’t in the retail business, but are still looking to integrate shopping with virtual reality. Retale has an experience that enables people to find stores close by and then go through their products that are shown via 3D rendering in a virtual store. Shoppers are able to walk around the area, look at products and find out more information about the products. Retale doesn’t enable them to purchase items directly, however it can put them on a shopping list on the company’s app which then points them to the store where they can purchase the products.
However, currently, the majority of retail companies that are utilizing virtual reality are doing so to gain awareness more than grow sales. for example, The North Face company is using VR to showcase the lifestyle they represent as people are able to put on a VR headset and be transported to beautiful hiking and climbing areas such as Yosemite National Park.
North Face’s Director of Digital Marketing, Eric Oliver, said, “In our retail environment, you can get a sense as to what the sport is like and be in the film along with the athletes,” says Eric Oliver, director of digital marketing at The North Face. “We just wanted to have the watcher participate in those sports … and get that gasp moment of staring over the edge.” He added, “I think [virtual reality] is like social media in 2008,” he says. “For us, I want our brand to be in your consideration set when you buy a jacket next time. I want to be in your consideration set because we’re offering some entertainment at home. … We want to elevate your experienced overall and virtual reality is one part of the way we’re doing that.”