If your conversations about reaching consumers wherever they happen to shop include a plan for virtual reality (VR), you may be onto something. VR is a relative newcomer to the so-called omnichannel experience for retail, marking a convergence between physical stores and e-commerce across multiple devices, but consumers have started to embrace it. VR’s reach is already surprising. A full one-third of the respondents in PwC’s new Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey report having used the technology in the past six months. And although half of that group used VR to play games or watch movies and TV shows, many also reported using the technology for a retail experience. One-third had joined a virtual world specifically to experience a retail environment, and one-third also reported purchasing products after testing them or browsing stores in VR. Perhaps most surprising: just shy of 20% of respondents said they used VR to purchase luxury goods. That’s right—even high-margin products for the least price-sensitive consumers are a hit in the metaverse.
We expect the appeal of VR to grow. The consumers who are empowered by technology are most likely to use comparison sites to seek product availability and shop with multiple retailers to meet their needs. A whopping 81% of survey respondents tell us they have shopped across at least three or four channels in the past six months, with more than half shopping daily or weekly. And although consumers switching from online to in-store shopping may be driven by unmet product delivery expectations and perceptions of lower product quality, neither in-store nor online channels have an advantage. Consumers are just as likely to switch between one and the other in either direction.
It may seem early in the game to embrace VR, but CMOs in every industry, particularly those in retail, should consider what role this technology could play in their customer journey and check in on their customer-experience team’s plan for VR and metaverse experimentation.