The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the offline-to-online convergence in retail, leading to a huge shift in the way people shop over a short period of time. Shelter-in-place orders have forced shoppers to purchase the majority of their goods online, and it’s made retailers rethink the way they’ll operate in the post-pandemic world.
Big0-box retailers have beefed up their ecommerce divisions, and we’ve seen dozens of major chains with new curbside pickup options. Some types of retail environments have done better than others. Hardware stores, like Home Depot and Lowe’s, have found themselves categorized as “essential” businesses, and they’ve been able to remain open in many areas with little adaptation necessary. The transition has been harder for retailers in high-touch categories, like clothing, and for those independent operators that didn’t have websites with ecommerce capabilities in place before the pandemic began.
No matter how good the targeting, creative, and “right person, right place,” the vast majority of our time contains urgencies that render us immune to push-based mobile ads. It’s basically a question of how often we’re actually idle, and therefore impressionable to being rerouted from a deliberate course.
Apple’s relative inaction on VR/AR thus far could either indicate that the company is missing this next tech shift (which I’ve speculated), or that it’s playing the long game. The latter could involve a deliberately late entrance to VR and AR, just as it did with previous technologies.
The technology is here — if not packaged yet — and ultimately the costs to manufacture will likely fall enough to allow SMBs to participate. But until that day arrives I guess we’ll have to hold up our smartphones or don bulky headsets to experience the future.
Soon, graphical overlays to the physical world will amplify everything from retail shopping (store navigation and product info), to finding a restaurant (ratings & reviews) to buying a home (values & specs). Utility will lead; marketing departments and jargon police can follow.
At the LOCALCON conference in London last week, Amplified Robot CEO Steve Dann gave a keynote address on VR’s practical uses for the retail industry. VR is steadily “climbing up the slope of enlightenment,” Dann said, and it’s in our best interest to familiarize ourselves with it.”