Diana ClarkDiana ClarkJanuary 10, 2018
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6min309

In-store experience still clearly matters: in fact, 85 percent of consumers have the same preference, according to RetailTouchPoints.

The main reason why so many people still go to stores when everything is readily available online is that they like to touch and feel products before making a purchase decision.

In addition to that, advanced technology such as virtual reality may make your in-store visits even more fun. Through various devices, retailers improve the experience of visitors, but can it really change the way we shop in stores?

Let’s find out.

How can technology surprise you?

The virtual reality revolution has already begun. Internet users are treated to everything from visiting Rome to exploring how the next Mars Rover is being built by NASA. One of the most prominent recent examples of marketing campaigns that surprised consumers was the McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes that were turned by the brand into foldable VR headsets.

Image Source: Mashable

For example, any person who bought a Happy Meal could assemble the box pretty easily by folding the box. The box comes with two plastic lenses that should be popped into the front part of the headset. After sliding the smartphone into the headset, one could peer through the lenses and play games. The campaign was very popular among consumers because they did not expect a simple box to become so awesome.

Other companies took this technology one step further. For example, some companies such as professional writing services provide virtual reality tours to show their officers to customers. Next, AT&T, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and Carnival Corporation & plc launched a campaign that allowed any customer who walked into AT&T stores could experience fully immersive virtual reality cruise tour. Specifically, the tour was a simulation of the desk of a luxury cruise ship at sea including palm trees and lounge chairs. Not bad, right?

How retailers mesh the digital world and the physical world

3D renderings

Many brick-and-mortar stores have already incorporated virtual reality in their in-store experience. Every brand can find a way to use this particular technology and wow their customers; for example, a home improvement retailer can offer 3D renderings of future renovations of their homes featuring their products.

For a person who wants to buy a sofa for their bedroom can see how the product fits into the décor using the technology, so it can be incredibly useful.

Virtual changing rooms

Another way in which retailers utilise virtual reality to enrich the experience of their consumers is virtual changing rooms. This technology allows customers to provide their body metrics such as height, weight, and hip width and create a virtual mannequin of themselves to try clothes. By browsing the store’s range, they can choose different items and switch colors.

Those thinking that virtual changing rooms that use augmented reality is something is too expensive and unrealistic, think on this:

  • The technology has debuted in 2005 and has been adopted by hundreds of well-known brands already
  • More than 70 percent of participants in Greenlight VR survey claimed they perceived brands that used virtual reality as more innovative, trendy, and progressive
  • Also, 53 percent of the sample in the same survey said they would be more likely to buy from a brand that uses this technology than from one that doesn’t

Interactive Store

Luxury fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff was one of the first businesses that combined traditional in-store experience and technology. For example, one of the Minkoff’s stores in New York offered the visitors to check in via the “Connected Glass” shopping wall, which was a large mirrored interactive screen. A customer could make a selection using the screen, send them to a dressing room, and even request different items and different colors to be brought to them.

Takeaways

Clearly, virtual reality and other technologies have the potential to disrupt the entire retail industry. In-store shopping is not going away, but it’s already getting an awesome upgrade.

There are a number of ways in which retailers use virtual reality and similar technologies, so taking advantage of this trend could significantly increase sales.

That’s why investments into them are on the rise, and more customers are amazed by how the in-store experience can be enhanced.


Diana ClarkDiana ClarkOctober 9, 2017
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6min315

The race for the title of best voice assistant on the market is well and truly on.

Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Amazon’s Alexa are the main contestants, and the competition is getting ever fiercer.

The main driving force behind the race is Voice User Interface (VUI), an increasingly popular technology that allows a device to interact with the user through voice.

According to the recent Global Markets and Technologies for Voice Recognition report by BCC Research, the volume of the global market for voice recognition technologies was $90.3 billion in 2015 and is expected to increase to $184.9 in 2021 at an average annual rate of 12.1 percent.

Current usage and predictions on how VUI will change the User Experience landscape

What features help VUI to engage customers?

Features that UX designers should keep in mind when developing VUIs:

1. It helps to make interaction with the product conversational

Voice interaction is popular, and VUI takes it one step further by making it truly conversational. Given that it understands natural speech, it can recognize a wide variety of different inputs provided by the user.

For example, people tend to speak differently to how they type information. When we interact with Google, we use keywords instead of full sentences.

Let’s imagine you are in a new city, Chicago, and you wake up in the morning and want a cup of coffee. You take your phone, open Google and type “coffee shops nearby”. These keywords are quite popular, so a lot of results are likely to appear.

However, when you interact with a personal assistant like Siri and Cortana, you’d want to make your request in a more conversational fashion:

“Cortana, can you suggest coffee shops in Chicago with good reviews?”

Voice assistants thus can engage us in a small conversation because they have been programmed to reply to thousands of different inputs.

2. It can help to interact with a device in different environments

Many people interact with their mobile devices while commuting. Some students use them to find information for college paper writing in a loud auditorium. In both cases, the environment is not ideal for voice recognition because of background noise. However, a seamless performance is expected.

VUI helps to improve the experience of the user regardless of the environment because the developers consider different settings to develop noise-robust speech recognition.

3. It is intuitive and becomes more efficient with each use

People love when their personal assistants learn about them and give them recommendations and advice based on the previous experience. VUI plays a critical role here since the input is provided by voice in different words. Here is the example of a great interaction with Siri:

“Siri, are there any good pizza places in this area?”

“Here are some suggestions. The closest one to your home is The Best Pizza.”

“Give me the directions to The Best Pizza.”

“All right, here are the directions.”

By having the ability to retain information about the home address, the assistant gave the directions to the closest pizza place to the home of the user.

The bottom line

VUI is the next logical step because it enhances user experience in a profound way. To meet the needs of customers and engage them, a voice assistant or any kind of VUI should be intuitive, conversational, and provide relevant results despite the surroundings.

The success of personal assistants like Cortana and Siri, which have millions of active monthly users, is proof that VUI can engage users and keep them interested.

UX designers are in a great position to develop and make digital devices talk and listen to us more than ever.




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