Virtual reality, and its supersized version, the metaverse, are beginning to play a vital role in retailing. Rian Beckham, director of communications with Kingsgate Logistics, explains how.
In a post-pandemic world, virtual reality puts shoppers into a retail space, where they’re able to explore the aisles, try on items and compare styles and colors. “It’s an accurate representation of when an item comes to your home,” says Beckham.
VR, long an essential element of video games, is now moving into the business world, especially retail. At the same time, the concept is morphing into the “metaverse,” a term that’s still unfamiliar to many. Beckham describes it as an extension of VR, to the point where people from all over the world can not only visit a store, but interact with one another in that virtual environment.
An entire shopping mall can be contained within a metaverse, allowing shoppers to “walk” from virtual store to store. Product expos are yet another possible application, with attendees being able to visit booths without having to leave their homes and offices. The days of doing that in the real world, Beckham believes, “are going to be something of the past.”
“Modeling the store in real time is super important,” says Beckham. “It creates an experience for consumers to connect, to feel like they’re part of the purchase.”
Virtual reality has been slow to catch on outside the gaming world because many are uncomfortable with wearing the cumbersome headsets. That’s becoming less of an issue as people become more familiar with the hardware, and less self-conscious about trying it. Moreover, the reliance on meeting platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams over the past two years has gone a long way toward familiarizing users with virtual environments — albeit ones that are far less immersive than what the metaverse offers.
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