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How virtual
and augmented
reality shopping
can help transform
the retail customer
experience

Author: Nick Reese

Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology has been described as a "game-changer for retailers in terms of consumer engagement and happiness." This is one reason why the global retail augmented and virtual reality market size is estimated to grow at a 24.8% CAGR to be worth $17.86 billion in 2028.

Just as 5G is the next generation of wireless technology, 5G can help virtual reality and augmented reality provide retailers with new opportunities to improve the customer experience—not to mention the bottom line.

It is also a reason why retailers can be among the many to benefit from the high speed and low latency of 5G as coverage continues to expand. For example, by the end of 2022, Verizon expects its 5G Ultra Wideband service to cover 175 million people in the U.S.

AR/VR leveraging 5G connectivity can also build on pre-existing virtual and augmented reality technology retail successes. Let's explore some of the possible AR/VR use cases that retailers can consider taking advantage of the continued rollout of 5G coverage.

In-store retail AR/VR use cases

As retailers try to spur more in-store shopping visits, they are combining the benefits of digital and physical experiences to offer customers an immersive shopping experience. Combining the expertise of the sales associate with the latest virtual reality shopping technology can create a powerful customer experience that cannot be replicated online. Here are some compelling AR/VR use cases for retail.

Personalized shopping experiences

One of the greatest promises of digital is for customers to choose to have a personalized shopping experience based on their profile, purchase history and browsing behaviors. While the online shopping experience can be personalized by using customer data to send recommendations, 5G can help take virtual reality and augmented reality shopping experiences to the next level by letting customers virtually engage with digital representations of your products. By allowing a customer to do things like virtually see what an outfit will look like on themselves instead of on a model in a photograph, AR can VR will help customers buy with confidence—which can also help to reduce return rates.

Products that sell themselves

While consumers can already research products on their phones while in the store aisle, virtual reality shopping can create an immersive in-store experience that makes people feel more engaged. For example, a customer can use virtual reality headsets and software to virtually “try on” products or even tour a store without physically being in the store.

Creating customized products

Retailers can offer virtual reality product configurators to allow customers on their 5G-enabled devices to customize products, by choosing colors and adding features so they can visualize what the final product will look like from any angle. 

Improved employee productivity

Augmented reality offers retailers additional benefits beyond improving the shopping experience. By using augmented reality to enhance retail planogram guidance to or to help locate products with wayfinding technology.

Consumer expectations and virtual and augmented reality shopping use cases

A recent survey found that 83% of consumers think AR or VR will enhance their shopping experience and 85% of consumers are at least somewhat likely to choose a brand that offers the option to experience a product through AR/VR.

5G virtual reality has the potential to not only improve the customer experience but also to change consumers’ expectations of their experience of shopping. Just as customers expect things like a selection of colors, great lighting, knowledgeable staff, dressing rooms and being able to pay with their phone, virtual and augmented reality-powered shopping experiences may soon become a standard expectation.

Learn how Verizon's retail tech and IT solutions can help you leverage 5G to create a differentiated customer experience in-store and across every touchpoint.

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