When will virtual reality hit stores?

Only a few years ago, it was a technology curiosity. Today virtual reality is a hot global trend which has changed many areas of our lives. Also commerce.

“Virtual reality is going to change the way we live, work and communicate,” announced Mark Zuckerberg to the audience during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Facebook CEO and founder appeared at the largest technology event in the world during Samsung presentation – Zuckerberg’s company has recently started cooperating with Samsung. However, almost nobody saw him entering the stage. A photo capturing this moment will definitely go down in history. Thousands of guests in the audience (among them a lot of journalists and photographers) were watching virtual reality on Samsung GearVR headsets. When they took them off, Zuckerberg was already on stage talking about a revolution brought by virtual reality – probably the hottest technology trend right now.

Headset in every house?

First glasses making it possible to watch a virtual 3D world appeared at the beginning of 1990s. But the VR technology had to wait until now to finally start gathering pace. 2016 may be a groundbreaking year because Oculus Rift and HTC Wive headsets are to be premiered. Also other companies, such as Sony, LG and Microsoft, work on their own solutions.  They all plan to sell VR headsets as another item from the consumer electronics category. So far, it’s not that cheap – Oculus Rift is available for pre-order at $599 and it also requires a powerful computer – but it is soon to appear in our houses.

No wonder that store owners and online sellers are looking for ways to seize this opportunity.

3D fashion show

There are plenty of theories on what the future shopping process and stores will look like. In their forecasts, experts emphasize that virtual reality can drastically change global trade. Above all – perception of a customer visiting a store, searching and trying on items.

To prepare for that, some companies have conducted tests and pilot programs. Tommy Hilfiger brand has introduced Samsung GearVR headsets to its stores. Customers can watch a catwalk show in virtual reality – as if they were part of an audience. Authors of the idea had used 3D cameras to film a real fashion show. Equipment, which they used, had 14 special lenses which allowed them to capture a 360-degree video. Not only could customers watch the clothes presentation but they also could try on and buy the presented sets.

Daniel Grieder, chief executive of Tommy Hilfiger, explains for New York Times that it is vital for brick-and-mortar stores to use VR technology in order to face competition in an increasingly digital world. “These days, you can’t just wait for people to come into the store and try on your jackets. You have to provide entertainment,” said Daniel Grieder.

Gogle do wirtualnej rzeczywistości zupełnie zmieniają doświadczenia zakupowe klientów (fot. Tommy Hilfiger).

Virtual reality headsets completely change customers’ shopping experience (photo: Tommy Hilfiger).

W salonach Tommy'ego Hilfigera wykorzystuje się gogle Samsung GearVR (fot. Tommy Hilfiger).

Tommy Hilfiger stores have used Samsung GearVR headsets (photo: Tommy Hilfiger).

W salonach Tommy'ego Hilfigera wykorzystuje się gogle Samsung GearVR (fot. Tommy Hilfiger).

If you can’t attend a fashion show, you can still watch it with the use of virtual reality (photo: Tommy Hilfiger).

Not only Hilfiger

Before Tommy Hilfiger showed how virtual reality can be used in a clothing store, the Westfield London shopping center had provided this new technology to its customers. In April 2015, the Future Fashion event was organized – customers could get to know collections during fashion shows presented in 3D virtual reality.

People visiting the mall could have played with an installation which consisted of three elements:

  • gigantic screen displaying the most fashionable collections (people could interact with it, change colors, sets, etc.)
  • 3D world which could be explored through Oculus Rift headsets
  • enormous touch screen allowing customers to search for any piece of clothing that could be found in Westfield stores – a bit like Tom Cruise in “Minority Report”, unforgettable blockbuster.

The purpose of Future Fashion was to show what VR technologies offer to customers and companies operating in the clothing industry.



Main photography: Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook