VR/AR is ‘here and ready to go’

VR ARVirtual and augmented reality is gearing up for widespread commercial implementation in the next six to 12 months, as retailers begin to recognise the business case underpinning the technology. 

That’s the message from Deloitte Australia’s latest report, which has analysed the fast growing VR/AR market, concluding that the technology has moved far beyond gaming applications and is now primed to engage customers in new and cost-effective ways. 

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Deloitte partner Robbie Robertson, co-author of the new report, says that VR/AR technology is “here and ready” and that Deloitte’s retail clients are already starting to tune in. 

“Clients are starting to add AR/VR to the briefs in a way that they weren’t six months ago,” he said. “The costs have dramatically reduced and the access to those who can deliver AR or VR products has increased exponentially over the last two to three years.”

Global data has forecasted the VR/AR market to grow from US$5.2 billion in 2016 to over $162 billion in 2020, a compounded annual growth rate of 181.3 per cent. 

Retailers in Australia are already starting to take the first steps into the VR/AR arena, Ikea has been a notable leader, but others including ANZ Bank and pureplay businesses Naked Wines and Red Balloon are also dipping their toes in. 

For Naked Wines, Google Cardboard will be shipped alongside wine cases to customers, allowing them to insert their phones to take a virtual journey through the vineyards their wines were produced in.

Red Balloon has flagged their intention to use VR in physical pop-ups, taking prospective customers from shop floor to holiday destination, providing them with an ability to visualise products before purchase.

Robertson believes the functionality represents a new and imminent type of narrative creation that has a variety of uses for retailers from all sides of the industry, whether it’s for big box retailers helping customers make considered purchases or fast fashion brands selling outfits rather than garments.

“We’re seeing the perception that AR/VR is futuristic change, brands are selling a dream, idea or concept that is multi-faceted, so they are really adopting the technology,” Robertson explained.

Deloitte says initial applications overseas have already included pre-planned shopping trips, brand differentiation through gamification and information delivery through things like virtual coupons.



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