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Delivering
a personalized
shopping
experience
with immersive
technology

Author: Nick Reese

Immersive technology has the potential to change so many aspects of life, from education, public safety and entertainment. Retailers can also leverage this innovative technology to create a personalized shopping experience, which can significantly improve the customer experience while building a future-ready business.

What is immersive technology?

Immersive technology is anything that leverages the digital world to create or augment a user's experience with reality. Retailers can leverage immersive technology to create a personalized shopping experience, which can help customers get exactly what they want and allow retailers to be perceived as more innovative than their competitors.

While similar, the two leading immersive technologies have a distinct difference:

  • Virtual reality (VR) provides a completely immersive experience by using VR goggles to replace your real-world view with a computer-generated reality. An example of this in retail would be a virtual showroom that a customer could visit from their living room.
  • Augmented reality (AR), on the other hand, merely overlays computer-generated content over the real world. An example of this would be looking at your room through your phone to see a virtual couch in the space, allowing you to visualize what it will look like before you buy it.

How immersive technology drives personalization in retail

Innovative brands are currently using immersive technology in several ways to drive personalization in retail, ranging from trying on virtual outfits in an AR-enabled mirror to creating customized products in a VR showroom.

By using technology to immerse the customer in your product, you're able to create a personalized shopping experience that's unique to their exact needs. Rather than searching through your store, a customer can leverage VR and AR to bring your products to their screen, learn about product features and get answers to questions. Customers can use immersive technology to easily cycle through different product options, such as colors, fabrics and features, helping the customer visualize exactly what they'll get instead of just looking at a color swatch or generic photo.

Personalization in retail is already commonly used as a part of designing an effective customer journey. For example, you likely already leverage customer data to determine upsell offers, personalized product recommendations or promotional offers. By using immersive technology to further personalize the buying experience, you make it easier for people to customize and purchase products with the confidence that they'll get what they want.

The business benefits of personalized shopping

Personalization in retail through the use of immersive technology is not only better for the customer experience but can also be better for your bottom line. Here are a few of the business benefits that personalized shopping can bring your business:

  • Increased sales: Customers who know they can get exactly what they want from your store will be more likely to come back again and again for their next purchase. Knowing they will receive engaging, personalized service at your store will likely inspire them to shop at your store instead of a competitor. This can drive bottom-line growth and increase your overall customer lifetime value. According to Wool & Water, about 85% of consumers prefer a brand that provides AR and VR technology to increase their confidence in a product over a brand that doesn't.
  • Reduced inventory: Delivering a personalized shopping experience that allows customers to shop for products not in the store offers the benefit of reducing the amount of stock you need to have on hand, saving inventory space and carrying costs. Depending on the products you sell, you can fulfill orders from another store’s inventory or order the necessary goods from the manufacturer.
  • Scalable customer experiences: When it comes to your in-store locations, there are only so many people you can fit in the door. But with AR and VR, any customer can engage in an immersive shopping experience right from their living room. By providing all the convenience of e-commerce with the engagement of the in-store experience, you can scale your sales operations in a way that can be more effective than static e-commerce experiences.

While immersive technology has the power to revolutionize the customer experience and your business, keep in mind that it requires powerful technology to enable personalized shopping to its full potential. To learn how to create a connected retail experience, check out how Verizon's retail technology and IT solutions can help improve immersive experiences.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.