Just as magic mirrors, beacons and even mobile payments once seemed futuristic, VR at retail stores has progressed from science fiction to the next disruptive retail computing platform. Retailers bent on distinguishing themselves with immersive, wow-factor customer experiences ― and enhancing store operations by requiring less space to merchandise more products ― are charging ahead with this revolutionary shopping technology.

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Goldman Sachs envisions VR retail software becoming a $500 million revenue opportunity by 2020, and ballooning to $1.6 billion by 2025. In its recent report, the company says VR is one of the technologies “retailers will have to invest in to serve their customers and keep ahead of their competition.” The investment firm notes that it is “less focused on the software revenue opportunity [than] the disruption potentially caused in the retail markets the technology can serve.”

Shoppers equipped with a smartphone and a VR headset can fully immerse themselves in a cinematic virtual reality shopping environment. As they traverse store aisles and fixate on a product, more information about that item is delivered in panoramic 3D ― including related options such as cross-sells and up-sells not necessarily stocked in-store. Shoppers can learn more about how to use the product, which products it complements, how it might fit, where and how it was made, view demonstrations, conduct tests and then tap their headsets to place items in their virtual shopping carts.

As consumers interact with products and within shopping aisles, retailers can interpret shopping preferences and patterns to streamline their retail strategies. Retailers even can test displays and layouts, all in virtual reality, before physically building them out.

My 2 cents:

Goldman Sachs says it best as it pinpoints the current state of VR adoption: the bet is on VR’s disruptive potential than the actual sell-ability of each model. For VR players as Samsung, the big win will be getting retailers to envision the shopping experience that can be delivered to customers (an interactive space without sacrificing the fundamental sell space retailers are so bent over monetizing) or better yet, to envision not delivering this shopping experience while your competition does. VR for retail can increase sales, help push new category adoption, deliver a relatively cheaper customized shopping experience and generate crazy levels of individual shopping data. Of all the VR angles, enhancing customer understanding of and interaction with the product seems most ripe to go and Samsung is ready to be the go-to model to Minority Report, retail style.

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