Immersive Technologies in Retail: Practices of Augmented and Virtual Reality

Costas Boletsis, Amela Karahasanovic

Abstract

In this work, we examine the value that immersive technologies can bring to retailing through the retail practices they facilitate. To that end, a literature review is conducted resulting in the documentation of 28 augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications from 38 publications. After analyzing the applications’ functionality and use in retail, the following AR/VR-enabled retail practices emerged: branding and marketing; sales channel; after-sale customer service; virtual try-on; customer-as-designer; virtual training; and workflow management. A principal observation from the analysis is that current AR/VR applications are used mainly for customer-related innovation, with “branding and marketing” being a dominant practice. Simultaneously, some practices are available to serve organization-related and support-related innovation. Finally, it was observed that AR is a popular technology in the retail environment and of high practical value, being an ideal fit for the purchase journey and workflow management. However, VR is more difficult to implement in retail, as it can be more expensive and complicated to integrate with the sales channel. However, it can create strong emotional engagement due to high immersion and act as a useful tool for branding and training. Therefore, these two technologies in retail and their strengths can supplement each other, thereby creating promising innovation strategies when combined.

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