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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : March 23, 2015

Could the future of retail be virtual?

Recent technology conferences have seen a lot of focus on virtual reality and, according to research from Walker Sands, its something that consumers would like to see play a role in the shopping experience.

by Helen Leggatt

According to Walker Sands' 'Future of Retail' study, which included a survey of 1,400 online consumers, two-thirds said they were interested in using virtual reality in their shopping experiences and 63% went so far as to say it would change the way they shop.

That's a big jump from the 37% who said the same last year when virtual reality ranked last among technologies of the future that consumers were interested in.

Furthermore, nearly half (49%) of those in this year's survey said they want to try out Oculus Rift and 32% are interested in purchasing the device.

A third (35%) of those participating in the survey said virtual reality will make online shopping easier by allowing them to experience a more "realistic feel" of a product, something that early on in ecommerce was deemed a barrier to online purchases. However, owners of physical stores may not be so enamored by the move to virtual reality shopping. Almost a quarter said that a virtual reality headset will make them less likely to visit shops in-person.

Oculus VR was bought by Facebook for $2 billion last year. An official release date of the headset is still forthcoming although some reports hint at April this year. Supporting its arrival, Facebook has indicated that it is adding virtual reality capabilities to its apps for social engagement.

Giuseppe Costantino /

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: ecommerce, retail, technology, trends, virtual reality

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