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How AR and VR Will Reshape Shopping

Smartphones will play a much larger role, but change won't happen overnight

Technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have the potential to change the shopping journey. According to a recent Ericsson survey, AR and VR will make it possible to get all the benefits of shopping in a store directly on a smartphone, for instance. But don't expect that advanced shopping scenario right away. 

Just 17% of AR and VR users worldwide said that scenario is already mainstream and accepted by consumers in general. For the most part, many believe it will happen at least three years from now. 

A good number of respondents also believe stores will have a much smaller floor space, because they'll be using AR and VR technology to showcase their products. Again, many believe this is likely to become mainstream at least the next three years. 

Interestingly, this group of AR and VR users also imagines that sometime soon, almost all shopping will be done via smartphone—and that physical stores will disappear. In fact, just 6% of those surveyed said this is something that will never happen. 

Technology has been a focus for many retailers this year. Zara recently bet on technology to drive people to stores, as did Nordstrom, Target and Walmart, just to name a few. 

Although consumers remain wary due to things like costs and user experience, a January 2018 Perkins Coie poll revealed that 18% of US AR/VR professionals expect the retail industry to invest in the technology this year, compared with 7% in July 2016.