Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - 61


HOW VR IS SHAPING
THE FUTURE OF RETAIL

Q&A

with Mark Hardy,
CEO, InContext Solutions

Talk about the challenges and opportunities in bringing
VR technology to the B2B space.
Virtual reality is in the headlines everywhere you look, and is making waves among tech
geeks and the general public alike. But back in 2009 when InContext Solutions was
just starting out, we were fortunate to have the foresight to think about how VR in the
gaming sense could actually be used to help retailers and manufacturers find new ways
of doing business. So the challenges come from being one of the only B2B virtual
reality companies at the front of this huge VR influx.
While much of the hype is around gaming and consumer-facing applications, it can be difficult to get
people to accept a new way of doing things in the B2B sector of retail, where things can be slower to
change. But at the same time that's also where the opportunities lie-we've blown the minds of retail
and CPG professionals by how we can help them save time and money and reduce risk using this
forward-thinking VR technology. It's been a game-changer for our clients.
As more and more shoppers embrace the convenience of omni-channel
commerce, what can virtual reality technology do for the retail
ecosystem in order to stay relevant and drive shopper loyalty?
The reason our virtual simulations are making such an impact in the space is because of this
very issue. There's no question that the convenience of online and mobile shopping and delivery
services are causing retailers and their partners to worry about the future. But the fact is, people
still want a store experience, and brick and mortar is a part of the "omni-channel" world we live in
today. In order to stay relevant, retailers and manufacturers need to look to the shopper-what do
they want for their in-store experience? What will make shopping enjoyable, rather than tiresome?
Getting the right experience in the right place at the right time takes ideation and iteration; and traditional methods of creating mock brick and mortar
centers, executive walk-throughs and physically changing products on the shelf is getting tired. VR technology takes all that and puts it in a virtual
simulation, online, so concepts can be viewed, changed, and collaborated on, all before anything is done in the physical world. It just makes sense to
use VR to make faster, smarter, more profitable business decisions in an industry that is seeing rapid change at the hands of technology.
How do VR devices fit into the industry right now?
While our virtual simulations do not require the use of VR headsets, these devices do allow a user to further individualize their experience. For instance,
Google Cardboard can be used to watch 360-degree videos that tell a story. Devices like GearVR support user interaction allowing the person to walk
where they want in a virtual environment and select items from a preplanned menu. For full immersion, the HTC Vive or Oculus can be used for the
development of concepts, where users are working within a fully interactive virtual space. VR devices like these create an impactful way for clients to share
their in-store ideas with retail partners and eventually gain buy-in.
Let's look further down the road. How will VR change the industry 5 years from now?
We are currently developing technology using devices like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift that will allow collaborators in completely different areas of the globe
to "meet" within a virtual room and simultaneously move products around on a virtual shelf. It will be just like being in the same room. Outside of what we're
working on here at InContext, however, I see virtual reality and augmented reality being commonplace in commerce. VR devices will change how people
shop on the web-they will be able to don a headset (or by then, put in a contact lens) and be able to see and interact with products like they would
in the real world, and create virtual shopping carts. Or they will use augmented reality to browse products and then learn more about the ones they are
interested in. The possibilities in the next five years are exciting, and they are coming at us faster than expected.

For more info visit www.incontextsolutions.com or call 312-462-4198


http://www.incontextsolutions.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shopper Marketing - July 2016

Contents
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - Intro
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - 1
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - 2
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - 3
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - Contents
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - 5
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - 6
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - 7
Shopper Marketing - July 2016 - 8
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