We are relentlessly interested in innovative brand experiences, and retail is appearing to be right in the centre of it. Retail in the sense of offline retail spaces is overdue for technological innovation. The ability to create immersive content by reimagining the physical retail store within a virtual space is boundless in potential for experiential marketing.
Virtual reality as a nascent platform for content creation means that retailers can deliver in-store customer experiences right at the heart of the customer’s living room. This can have various implications on brand experience through the synergy of offline and online channels: In short, the rising prevalence of VR innovations may usher in the age of obsolescence for the beloved physical retail store. A collaboration between MasterCard and Swarovski recently showcased VR’s potential through the use of a VR headset; customers were able to view chandeliers within multiple virtual environments. Convenience is then supplemented with a seamless experience as customers could directly make purchases through the headset with the aid of MasterCard’s Masterpass.
Its cultivation of brand experiences within virtual reality will mean that online shopping will level up towards virtual social shopping. Friends will be able to shop together in a shared virtual retail space without the necessity for physical proximity . As founder of ADVR My N. Tran surmised:
In an interactive VR experience, friends and family could also ‘travel’ and participate in a branded expedition together.
An intimate social experience is created, permeating the consumer’s consciousness in a meaningful way.
Consumers are positioned right at the forefront of the brands’ consciousness. The result is the exploration of the consumer’s subconscious desires – as seen with eBay’s daring foray into the first ever subconscious shopping experience. Guests are equipped with a headset device, which measures electrical activity in the brain. Inspiration is literally visualised by the headset as guests explore a gallery filled with artwork. The wearer’s electrical brain activity during moments of inspiration becomes apparent. This is ground breaking – as algorithms are then able to produce a personalised shopping cart based on the wearer’s inner subconscious desires. Seamlessness as a recurring theme in the future of retail is not amiss here; the personalised shopping cart is directly sourced from the billion items in eBay’s marketplace.
Ultimately, this will lead to brand experiences with absolute seamlessness throughout its omnichannels, minimising any interruptions through the intuitive integration of the shopping and purchasing experience of the customer. This is innovation in retail, where physical and locational barriers are severed from brand experience altogether, elevating retail to an intimate and social retail experience.