Executive Briefings

Macy's China Experiment Shows the Potential of Retail VR

Macy's this month made its debut appearance within Alibaba's Singles' Day in China. Well, sort of. It participated via a virtual reality shopping tour app featuring Macy's New York City flagship, which bills itself as the world's largest department store.

But making this Chinese entry with a virtual reality app is a decidedly odd move. Although virtual reality can help surgeons-in-training to safely explore a body or for pilots to learn the intricacies of flying a new aircraft, it may be hard to see how it's either an efficient means of shopping or an impressive way to experience a department store.

Virtual reality is a tool that delivers experiences. That's not what online shopping is, at least not in this app. Done properly, e-commerce allows a shopper to visit, get what they need and get out as quickly as possible. Retail experiences are one way for in-store merchants to flourish, but they depend on the smells of different perfumes, the touch of delicate fabrics, the taste of a hot appetizer, the ability to flip through the pages of a book at the shopper's speed.

Online, though, retailers need to focus on speed, accuracy and intuition. That's when a well-thought-through site analyzes shoppers' choices and correctly guesses what they really want and makes that pop up instantly for them.

Read Full Article

But making this Chinese entry with a virtual reality app is a decidedly odd move. Although virtual reality can help surgeons-in-training to safely explore a body or for pilots to learn the intricacies of flying a new aircraft, it may be hard to see how it's either an efficient means of shopping or an impressive way to experience a department store.

Virtual reality is a tool that delivers experiences. That's not what online shopping is, at least not in this app. Done properly, e-commerce allows a shopper to visit, get what they need and get out as quickly as possible. Retail experiences are one way for in-store merchants to flourish, but they depend on the smells of different perfumes, the touch of delicate fabrics, the taste of a hot appetizer, the ability to flip through the pages of a book at the shopper's speed.

Online, though, retailers need to focus on speed, accuracy and intuition. That's when a well-thought-through site analyzes shoppers' choices and correctly guesses what they really want and makes that pop up instantly for them.

Read Full Article