Could virtual reality replace the high street?

Virtual reality has been the hands-down hottest tech of 2016 – revolutionising gaming and adding new dimensions to YouTube. But what of the future? Can VR take over the way we shop?

02 Dec 2016


Shopping for clothes is something many of us still prefer to do in-store ­– even in this digital age of apps and smartphones.


There’s something about being able to hold and feel the fabric and see how it looks on you before buying that makes shopping instore more desirable for clothes than, say, a toaster or a TV.

But experts reckon virtual reality can bring online shopping much closer to the in-store experience.

The future of shopping

Experts have predicted that by 2050 virtual reality could have completely changed the way we shop.

We’ve been writing about VR for the past year, and we have seen how it is transforming everything from PC and PlayStation gaming to watching YouTube.

So what will it bring to the world of fashion retail?

Currently when you’re shopping online you’re either using your laptop or your iPad or your phone using apps and websites. Everything is flat and 2 dimensional while sitting on your sofa viewing pictures of items.

The Future of Shopping report predicts how this will change:

  1. Virtual reality headset ­– once you pop this on you’ll be transported to a 3D virtual store that looks and feels like a real shop.
  2. Artificial Intelligence – AI shop assistants will learn your tastes over time and help you find the right items at the right time – for example when going on hols.  
  3. Virtual changing rooms – no longer will you have to worry about getting the wrong size, as you can try things on in your living room.
  4. Drones ­– ever miss deliveries? Flying delivery drones can drop them off in your back garden while you’re at work.

What the experts say

The report’s authors say the current experience when buying clothes on the high street is ‘generic’.

They say the fashion industry is known for its innovation and that the technologies of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ can bring the shopping experience up to speed.

‘The way we shop is so old-fashioned,’ says Russell Freeman, report co-author and chief technology officer at digital marketing agency Holition.

‘The future of shopping offers personalised experiences for people, dependent on their taste and mood… augmented reality, virtual reality, drone delivery and artificial intelligence will completely change the way we shop. It’s an exciting time – on the cusp of a revolution.’


Are you ready for the VR revolution?

This has undoubtedly been the year of VR – our virtual reality is about to go mainstream  feature has been constantly updated throughout the year.

Gaming headsets from HTC, Oculus and PlayStation have launched. Popular games franchises like Batman and Half Life have been given the VR treatment – not to mention Steam.

Beyond gaming, YouTube has launched a VR app that runs exclusively (for now) on Google’s Daydream headset.

Facebook is working on plans to bring virtual reality to its social network. Estate agents are even using it show people around their luxury properties.


Are you ready to begin your virtual reality journey?