“What role do you see VR playing in helping shape the retail experience? And can you name anyone who is doing it right?”
I think one clear opportunity is the virtualization of the product experience, particularly if the product is an experience unto itself. For example, being able to virtually experience the product in a positive and compelling way can be a deal-closer to drive greater sales conversion for many.
A key distinction is the difference between Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR). With VR, a person needs goggles or some similar apparatus that totally encloses your normal field of view, and renders a complete alternative ‘reality.’ With AR, you simply need a means by which to view the real world as it is, but with virtual elements superimposed upon, or integrated within, the actual reality.
It’s worth noting that from an economic POV, AR products and services are projected to grow to an estimated four times the size of the VR market. One interesting example of AR in the retail experience is IKEA. They have an AR application that allows customers to virtually view furniture options and arrangements within their actual home and living spaces, at approximate true scale. Think about the power of this to ensure happy customers, with confidence in making significant purchases. Think of it as a way to proactively reduce the risk of post-purchase cognitive dissonance, a common experience that many customers sometimes have with purchases of importance to them.
VR as a remedy for ‘Buyer’s Remorse’… We are truly venturing into in a brave new virtual world with actual possibilities and experiences that will rival the best of science fiction.