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Opinion

Go ahead, say VR is just a fad

Early adopters of any emerging technology always come under scrutiny, both within their own company and in the marketplace. They’re asked whether the investment will pay off long-term, and what (if any) impact the effort will actually have on sales numbers.

While sticking with what has always worked and expanding on proven platforms is still a great strategy, we, as leaders in our own markets, need to push the boundaries, experiment with technology and even fail if we have to, in order to integrate new solutions into existing platforms and customer journeys.

Asking whether VR is just a fad, or a more permanent shift, is a loaded question. And it can only be answered by referring to specific industries or applications. Simply trying to replicate a store experience in 3D or VR is questionable. Customers visit stores because they enjoy or need the physical benefits of the store experience.

Not many of us will virtually walk around a supermarket and select products from a shelf, if pulling out a mobile phone and using an app is easier and already works just fine. We must create experiences customers can’t have with current platforms or locations.

In the case of The Blue Space, walking around a bathroom or kitchen that customers have created online is a powerful way to visualise the purchase, one that a physical store just cannot provide.

But sadly for us retailers, the success of new consumer technologies such as 3D and VR is often not dependent on our industry at all. We simply jump on the bandwagon and benefit from technology that is used by our customers in other ways.

The gaming industry is driving VR with much larger investments and almost instant revenue generation. It will determine whether this immersive technology becomes a household item or a fad that just passes us by.

Josh Mammoliti is managing director of The Blue Space, an online showroom that uses 3D and VR technology to help customers visualise new bathroom, kitchen and laundry products in their own home.

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