V-commerce set to take off

Virtual reality and augmented reality shopping tools are starting to gain traction among first adopters, with the technology poised to transform retail, according to a new study.

In virtual reality (VR), users don headsets to enter a fully digital world incorporating interactive and immersive elements, while augmented reality (AR) will typically see data and graphics overlaid on an image of the real world via a smart phone.

London’s L.E.K. Consulting surveyed 1,000 consumers who have used AR and VR technology. Of these, up to 80% are keen to enter virtual reality to sample products, such as clothes and eyewear, and to take shopping trips with friends physically located elsewhere.

Gap, Sephora and Alibaba are among the retailers already using these technologies.

"V-commerce brings the potential for entirely new shopping experiences and new kinds of added value," said Dan McKone, L.E.K managing director.

“But there are risks for retailers — the initial investment is significant, and there are high costs for getting it wrong. Retailers need to do what they’ve always done — look to their consumers to point the way.”