Why companies fight to create virtual experiences for customers

According to Accenture’s new Signals of Change report, less than one percent of retailers use augmented reality (RA) and virtual reality (VR) technologies to enhance the consumer experience. But, raising it to just two percent could translate into an estimated additional $ 66 billion in sales growth for retailers.

Oliver Wright, world leader in Accenture’s goods and services industry group, says the current business environment is poised for reinvention. There is a strong desire to look deeper into the future for growth, not just for survival.

“The scale of the interruption and the deadline for last year’s action [in 2020] it serves as a powerful illustration of how organizations need to be agile, resilient, and sensitive to change, “Wright said.” While the dimensions of virtuality have been at the forefront in recent years, organizational responses in last year’s crisis revealed that even embedded systems and recorded processes [..] it could be altered and reinvented in a period of time that had not been previously imagined ”.

Wright says that when stores closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, brands and retailers engaged consumers through sophisticated virtual reality and virtual reality apps that simulated the real-life shopping experience with evidence virtual, instructional videos, live streaming and beauty and cooking master classes.

“Covid has created a new level of intimacy created between brands and consumers, and there is an opportunity to drive technology to support this new consumer behavior,” Wright added.

Beauty embraces the virtual

Wright refers to the beauty industry as an example of brands adopting virtual experiences.

“We saw that beauty brands really adopted AR and VR during the pandemic to increase their sales and help consumers find the right color tone when shopping online or to personalize and personalize their purchases,” Wright adds.

In 2020, Shiseido allowed customers to try cosmetics on a mirror-like touch screen that simulates the look of colors on their skin. They used bracelets that allowed customers to add products to a virtual cart instead of carrying them while browsing.

MAC Cosmetics allows its customers to try on makeup with the phone using Snapchat and different AR lenses, which they used to only do in stores. Their data showed that consumers who used the app were three times more likely to buy an item, spending 10% more, on average.

Makeup and hair care brand L’Oreal launched an app called Makeup Genius, which allows consumers to try on various colors and styles of makeup.

“The ability to test virtual can change the game of beauty brands. It takes the guesswork out of what a product will look like and allows people to experiment with hair colors and different foundation tones, lips and eye color, ”Wright added.

Wright believes that current VR technology primarily realizes our senses of vision and hearing. Over time, it will become more and more realistic: attractive smell and touch, sight and sound.

“As this integration happens, virtual worlds will become more realistic, providing a great sense of the physical,” Wright said. “For example, one company developed mask-smelling devices that emit odor particles, so that when people walk through a virtual park, they can smell grass and flowers.”

RV to improve interactions

The Business Futures report also showed that nine out of 10 C-Suite executives in retail and consumer goods companies said they were investing in creating virtual environments and planned to invest more. In addition, 73% of respondents in the report noted that virtual environments would primarily improve their interactions and experiences in physical environments.

Wright sees the London-based startup Overview Ark as one more example of a company that innovated during the pandemic. Overview Ark sells tools to build virtual replicas of live shows without the need for in-depth programming knowledge.

The company focuses on live concerts that can be experienced in a 3D world using virtual reality headphones.

“When live music events were canceled during the pandemic, many artists went to social media platforms to do live performances for free; but it was mostly 2D experiences, ”Wright said. “Overview Ark wants to create a new hybrid way of attending concerts that is immersive, live, has a social element, and provides income opportunities for artists.”

Wright points out that one of the most important contributions of the report is how we define the future.

“This window is much shorter than we’re used to: it’s only three years old, rather than a five- or ten-year investment perspective,” Wright added. “We see a compressed transformation between industries. What used to be on the chronology for five years is now much more immediate. ”

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