Ofcom: VR will provide major retail opportunities

  • Virtual reality (VR) technology could provide major new retail opportunities according to a new Ofcom report.

    The UK independent comms regulator noted that by replicating the traditional physical experience of testing products in shops through VR, post-sale and product support could also allow retailers to build a more direct relationship with consumers through the use of this technology.

    VR can also present an opportunity for museums, zoos and other culture and tourist attractions to provide an immersive and interactive experience to visitors, the report suggested.

    Media and communications experts at NI marketing firm, Ardmore have cautioned that tech should not distract businesses from providing an excellent product or service and listening to what their customers want.

    Director of Media at Ardmore, Mark Thompson said: “The Covid pandemic has been a great accelerator of this change with technology largely replacing physical communication and interaction.

    "We know from our work that the organisations that have pushed their boundaries to innovate during the pandemic have been able to adapt and solve the problems they’ve faced.”

    RELATED: 'Try before they buy' - AR will revolutionise retail in a post-Covid world

    Mr Thompson mused about the possibilities for consumers that could arise from tech advancements, such as “being able to speak with an artificially intelligent virtual shop assistant about a new bank account instead of spending hours on the phone in a queue” or undertaking “the Game of Thrones tour in Northern Ireland whilst walking through the scene you are visiting as it unfolds.”

    However, Ardmore’s Director of Planning, Ed Henderson, cautioned that businesses and consumers needed to be aware of the limits of technology:

    “These new developments will enhance the offer and experience for consumers and effectiveness in how a business speaks with its customers, but it can’t and shouldn’t replace the core ingredients of a great product or service and a strong understanding of what consumers want.

    “Organisations that adopt technology for the sake of it, without a clear understanding of the value being added, risk compromising their customer relationship. Those that get this balance correct will be in a position to really maximise the benefits that these sorts of technologies can offer their businesses and customers.”

    RELATED: How are online fashion retailers staying innovative during COVID-19?

    The research provides additional insights on trends in media noting that significant developments are expected in the next 10 years in the field of television and radio broadcasting, live-streaming and on demand media technology.

    These include the tools for content creation and production; content distribution routes; the experiences that audiences will enjoy; and the way consumers navigate content and use their devices.

    The report adds that there are close interrelationships between these elements: for example, new consumer devices (such as ultra-high definition screens) create an appetite for higher quality content, while new content navigation technologies abstract the consumer experience from the actual means of delivery.

    Read Ofcom's Technology Futures – spotlight on the technologies shaping communications for the future in full here.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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