How Retail Stores Are Using Virtual Reality To Make Shopping More Fun

The next item you try on at the mall might be a virtual reality headset. No longer relegated to video gamers, VR is coming to amusement parks, movie theaters and classrooms. But the technology presents a major opportunity for retailers as they try to lure fickle shoppers into their stores, particularly as consumers shift more of their buying habits online.

Already, Ikea, Lowe's, Toms and North Face are turning to virtual reality to sell products, boost their brands and make shopping more fun.

"Virtual reality is going to fundamentally transform the human experience of shopping," a report from digital agency SapientNitro said, predicting that it would "lift sales for those retailers who get ahead of the curve."

Lowe's has added a futuristic edge to the often teeth-gnashing process of remodeling a kitchen or bathroom.

In 19 stores around the country -- though none in California -- the home improvement chain has installed a space that enables shoppers to see a 3-D mock-up of their renovation plans.

Called the Holoroom, the simulated space can be personalized with individual room sizes, equipment, colors and finishings. Shoppers can give Lowe's the dimensions of a room and fill it from a selection of thousands of Lowe's products.

Then they slip on an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to look at how all the elements play together (an employee can switch out parts of the room while the customer is still looking). The design is also viewable at home on YouTube 360 with a Google Cardboard viewer, which Lowe's gives out free through on-site vending machines.

Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, said the Holoroom helps nudge people over the biggest hurdle when it comes to a room refresh: imagining what those changes will look like in real life.

"If you think about the way people conceptualize remodels now, it's really...

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