Retail VR: A Potential Perfect Fit for Location-Based VR

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In order for location-based virtual reality experiences (LBVREs) to be successful, they need a combo of factors. The area must have high foot traffic with a population open to trying new experiences. It also helps if this foot traffic is made up of consumers with high disposable incomes. Therefore, in many cases, physical retail stores are the perfect venue to provide VR experiences to the general public.

LBVRE is an exciting channel for virtual reality hardware, software and service providers. LBVRE as a market sector has grown rapidly in China and Japan, and are now taking off in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. On the high end, experiences like The Void dominate the news, as was the case this week when the Utah-based company announced a new location in Toronto, Canada. Yet for every new Void location, dozens of smaller establishments open up across the world every week. Most are small operations - a single or small group of investors spending money to bring a few couple installations to a location. These places resemble slightly higher-tech versions of traditional arcades with game cabinets swapped out for VR headsets.

What It Takes For VR To Succeed In Retail Stores

The LBVRE locations that succeed are typically in large city centers or near fashion shopping centers -  areas that attract regular, high-income patronage. This presents an opportunity for retail spaces to capitalize on a growing consumer interest in VR and create or host their own experiences.

Retailers have a tradeoff when it comes to deciding which VR technology stack to choose. While VR headset system design is still evolving, there are certain spatial requirements that must be met. HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and other PC-tethered VR headsets require at least 6' by 5' open space in order to properly operate room-scale experiences. On the other hand, most smartphone-based VR headsets require less room, but are less advanced and usually offer a lower, fidelity experience.

For higher scale VR experiences, companies like Nomadic are already moving in on the retail space. Nomadic promises an experience on par with The Void and Zero Latency, two leaders in the early LBVRE space. Unlike those two companies, however, Nomadic does not strive to have dedicated locations. Instead, the company plans to partner with retail and cinema users to turn existing open space into venues offering high-end VR experiences. Nomadic's custom technology solution includes a headset, a PC backpack, and a peripheral controller.

Nomadic takes an open space and physically modifies it to fit the VR experience.

Transforming the Retail Experience with VR

VR is set to permeate many aspects of culture, including education and exercise. Retail locations can be enhanced by LBVREs. Companies like IKEA have already created VR showrooms for new products - without having to physically ship them to stores.

Shopping for a car in VR.

With technology changing, expect shopping to change along with - much in the same way the internet revolutionized shopping with online marketplaces like Amazon. Transforming the consumer retail experience is next step for the current technological revolution.

Everything You Need To Know In One Report

For more information about how innovative companies are using virtual reality in the out-of-home, location-based entertainment space, please see Greenlight Insights' full report.

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