Virtual and Augmented Reality – are shoppers ready?

Quick links


Virtual and Augmented Reality – are shoppers ready?

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are buzz words at the moment, especially in the retail space. But do you know what they mean for retailers, and if shoppers are even ready for this new technology? Our latest blog investigates.

First of all lets look at the difference between VR and AR. We generally know the terms, but do you know how they differ?

Well VR is an artificial environment which has been created by software. It’s presented in a way that makes you believe it’s a real environment. VR is experienced by sight and sound, and by using a headset. Common VR devices currently on the market include: PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

AR, on the other hand, is a live, direct or indirect view of a real world environment. Aspects are augmented by computer-generated inputs such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.  It works in real-time using environmental elements. A good example of AR is Pokémon Go.

These concepts are being talked about more and more in the retail space. NRF in New York had a whole area dedicated to VR and it featured high on the agenda at Shop Talk. So we know it’s expected to be big, but are consumers ready to embrace this new technology? We’ve carried out research on the topic and here are some highlights from findings we gathered in 8 markets:

  • Shoppers are already using VR, maybe more than you might expect. 25% of global shoppers say they’ve used VR technology at some point either in a shop, at home, at a friend’s, or at an event.
  • Consumers are already buying VR devices. The most commonly owned device after a smartphone is the PlayStation VR (8%) followed by Google Glass (5%) and Oculus Rift (4%). Most of these devices are used at home.
  • The most popular use of VR is for gaming (50%), but live entertainment experiences also feature highly (23%). At the moment there aren’t many user cases in retail, but the potential is high. Where consumers aren’t using VR, the main reason is a lack of opportunity (39%) and a lack of need (33%).
  • Shoppers believe it’s here to stay. They don’t think it’s just a gimmick. Just 3% of those surveyed (approx. 480 people globally) believe that the tech will soon be out-of-date and not used anymore.
  • As we’ve seen previously with the adoption of new technology, China is leading the way. It’s the most advanced of all the markets we surveyed in terms of VR adoption, and Chinese consumers are open to the many possibilities it provides. A staggering 95% of shoppers have used the VR/AR technology in the last 3 months.
  • Germany on the other hand is most concerned about the impact that VR will have on real-world scenarios. And Japan and the UK are seen to be technology laggards.

So, there’s obviously lots of potential for both VR and AR.  And, if retailers don’t move quickly, there’s the risk they could miss out. Want to find out more about the potential application in retail? Take a look at our latest infographic: 

Written by:   ,  15 May 2017