Combining the best of both worlds for what can only be described as a dangerous outcome, software developers are looking into using virtual reality headsets to allow eager consumers to go shopping from the comfort of their own homes. For those of us who don’t want to brave the lines and chaos of boutiques and department stores, but still want to browse the offerings with a little more of a realistic feel, this latest application of VR could be the answer to all retail problems. SapientNitro, a marketing agency, teamed up with luxury boutique, The Line, and employed a Samsung Gear headset to pilot the entire experience.
Unlike traditional online shopping, this virtual reality setup allows buyers to actually explore the store, much as they would in a physical setting, and when an object catches the viewer’s attention, a clear description — as well as a price tag — appears atop the product. Adrian Slobin, SapientNitro’s head of innovation, explained the impetus behind the practice, saying, “This was about creating a vibe relevant to what the Apartment is doing. It’s a SoHo-based, heavily curated, high-end brand experience.”
SapientNitro has also previously collaborated with Sixsense to create a digital reality in which visitors could browse for shoes. While no retailers have yet announced the development of a virtual storefront, Slobin is confident that adoption will pick up once consumer headsets hit the market next year.
Sanjay Mistry, who serves as the director of architecture at Unity, which virtual reality developers employ to design experiences, is optimistic about the future of VR shopping, noting, “The adoption will be slow, but this is building the technology for the future.”
He continued, “People are still going to want to physically buy something in a store, but virtual reality is the experience where they can envisage [the item], and use it more as a planning tool than a purchasing tool. Retail does have to change, and virtual reality is a big part of it.”