July 9, 2015

When people talk about their latest shopping spree, it’s likely they’ll refer back to whatever ecommerce site they perused for a little retail therapy. Brick and mortar retailers have been struggling to find ways to compete with their online-only counterparts. Thanks to the recent advancements in virtual reality, retailers may be able to catch their second wind.

According to a recent Reuters article, devices like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard hold the potential to transform offline shopping by inserting technology into the experience. Virtual reality offers retailers the opportunity to offer their clientele an interactive shopping experience that still captures the thrill of shopping offline, with the convenience offered by technology. Shoppers can browse real inventory and learn more about products, all thanks to a little innovation.

As retailers slowly explore virtual reality, they’ve moved much more quickly in evolving the technology used to tender payments. Instead of the typical “cash, check or charge?” question most store clerks are used to delivering, Apple Pay and Google Wallet have changed the landscape dramatically. No more digging for exact change, or anxiety over a misplaced credit card. Whether or not the future shopper will be wallet-free remains to be known, but mobile payments have been welcomed by many retailers, credit card companies and service providers. Even inherently tangible things like coupons and rewards cards have transition to mobile-only apps.

Shoppers aren’t the only tech-hungry beings in the brick and mortar shopping experience. In fact, retailers themselves can tap into technology for benefits of their own. Mobile network technology has made great strides, and when implemented in digital displays at stores and shopping malls, companies are able to gather insights about their shoppers to help them better market their products.

There’s no doubt that brick and mortar stores are not dead. The struggle for retailers remains real, but the future is still exciting, and loaded with potential innovations that blend mobile, virtual reality and more.


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