The battle of the channels is raging. More and more online business are pushing into the market, making it difficult for brick-and-mortar businesses to hold their own. This has since been recognized not only by the retail sector. Many companies are dealing with the topic of digitalisation in the retail sector, but whether some of the visionary ideas they have come up with promise success is rather doubtful.
From robots for delivering goods to beacons and VR headsets. The retail sector is currently experimenting with the opportunities offered by the digital world and are exploring the options available to them for tempting customers back into stores. A number of ideas have been come up with are certainly innovative, but are hardly suited to helping retail stay on track successfully.
For example, the weekly German business magazine reported that more and more digital shopping experiences are available on the market. This year, Christian Gaiser, CEO of the Bonial.com Group, to which the brand Kaufda belongs, presented the precursor of a VR app which the user can use in combination with the Facebook headset Oculus Rift to virtually enter stores – from the comfort of their own couch.
Developers linked the Kaufda app, which is aimed at connecting customers online to brick-and-mortar retailers, to the VR headset. The app shows users the location of the nearest stores on a map, which users can then enter within the 3D world to look at products and gather further information if they are interested. Users then put the products on their shopping list, take the VR headset off and buy the goods in their local store. “In future, the boundaries between the instore experience and the customer’s own home are set to become more and more blurred,” according to Gaiser.
Hats off to Mr. Gaiser, that is sure to save retail! Joking apart.
Not everything that is technically possible actually makes sense. VR headsets may well be a nice gimmick to impress bored customers or appeal to the playful nature of visionaries. They are certainly not however, suitable for generating significant turnover and taking customers away from online businesses. What makes online businesses attractive is not innovative technology, but rather the huge product range they offer, with a great selection, good prices and next day availability which is made clearly visible online.
This channel advantage offered by the internet cannot be solved using virtual reality, but rather by ensuring that even small local retailers are able to offer customers a huge selection, good prices and immediate availability. The concepts of the connected store provide the solution without any technical gimmicks.