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Deloitte: Immersive technology no longer in the future, it’s here now for retailers
3 May 2017: The integration of immersive technology, including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is about to become the new gold standard for omni-channel retail and brand experiences, according to Deloitte.
‘How much is that virtual doggie in the virtual window? VR and AR – a guide for Australian retailers’ is the second in a new series of papers which focus on trends within the Australian retail sector. It outlines what a retailer needs to know before taking the plunge, which mediums and technologies have gained traction in the market, and what VR and AR could deliver for a business, its brand and customers.
“While we’re still at the beginning of this journey into the virtual world, many retailers globally have experimented with immersive technology in some way to satisfy the increasing consumer demands for novel and emotionally engaging customer experiences,” says David White, national leader of Deloitte’s Retail, Wholesale & Distribution Group.
“It is becoming better, more affordable, more ubiquitous, and customers are interested in it. Smart retailers are paying attention to where their customers are looking in an effort to provide the best possible experience for them.”
As virtual and augmented reality technology rapidly improves, analysts predict the retail industry may be one of the biggest beneficiaries1. Brands are seeking to use VR and AR both for direct sales opportunities and to enrich the consumer’s experience of the brand.
“Technology is dramatically changing the retail landscape, but one thing remains the same: retail is about providing high-quality, engaging experiences for customers,” comments Robbie Robertson, Deloitte Spatial and Brand Experience Leader. “The most successful adopters of VR and AR will be retailers who use the technology to enhance their relationship with customers, rather than replace it.
“We know the omni-channel customer journey begins a long time before customers enter the store and extends way beyond the purchase experience. While the decision to purchase a product is often made before the customer even enters the store, the moments-of-truth within the customer journey are becoming more frequent, subtle and often go undiscovered by marketers, retailers and sales staff alike. Immersive technologies have the potential to transform these ‘blind spots’ into meaningful interactions, targeted conversations and data-driven decision making.”
According to the paper, there are numerous points when AR/VR can tap into the shopping journey as well as offering a range of backroom solutions. A handful of these include:
- Pre-planning shopping trips – helping customers make more informed purchases as they visit stores, increasing the buyer conversion rate, e.g. using VR to give shoppers a view into a signature bricks-and-mortar space from anywhere in the world
- In-store engagement – assisting customers to navigate a store, find or receive product information in-store and gain store incentives or rewards as they shop
- Product customisation – allowing customers to visualise what a product might look like in different scenarios, e.g. AR technology which enables users to visualise through their smartphone camera what a certain colour of paint would look like in their home
- Store, centre and warehouse planning – improving shop floor navigation as well as being used to improve retail zoning and the management of inventory and stock
- Training workshops – helping staff adapt to new processes, spaces or products by experiencing them in a virtual test scenario first.
Robertson adds: “Australian retailers often prefer to see how a new technology goes overseas before adopting here. However, there is an opportunity for interested and adventurous retailers in Australia to be first in providing a unique experience for their customers as part of their omni-channel approach to improving online offerings, integration and internal systems.”