AT&T brings virtual reality to stores
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from Fierce Retail, an e-newsletter and website covering the latest retail technology news and analysis.
Retailers are testing the virtual reality waters, and AT&T is among the first to give the technology a try, rolling out VR in partnership with Samsung Electronics to give shoppers a more immersive experience.
As of last Friday, 133 AT&T stores in 37 states will have a Samsung Gear VR by Oculus that lets users virtually experience a Carnival Cruise. Promising users donning headsets will be “surrounded by the sights and sounds of a warm and sunny cruise vacation,” the content highlights decks, staterooms and entertainment venues. The presentation showcases ships from the company’s Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line brands on excursions to Barcelona, Mexico and other popular destinations.
While basically an advertisement for the cruise line, the demo is among the first modern VR experiences that the public can try out.
“Our customers know they can come to an AT&T store to experience the future of a connected life,” said Brian Shay, president, retail sales and distribution for AT&T. “We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show it off.”
The Samsung Gear VR is designed to work with Samsung’s Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and Note5, all sold at AT&T stores. Mobile devices deliver the content, and the headset plunges users into the immersive experience.
Shoppers will be able to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a seven-day cruise. While select stores will offer the full VR experience, another 1,100 stores will have the content, which was developed by Carnival, available for customers to demo on the Gear VR headset.
Retailers are experimenting with VR in a variety of ways. SapientNitro showed off a virtual store at NRF’s annual conference and expo in January, complete with shoppable content. Users simply focused on an item through a VR headset, then pricing and product information appeared in the view.
Lowe’s showed off a Holoroom at the International CES in January, where VR was among the most buzzed-about technologies. The home improvement retailer is using a virtual product platform by Marxent called VisualCommerce to help shoppers connect smart home devices.
Holoroom is an in-store and at-home virtual reality design tool meant to help shoppers design kitchens and bathrooms with 3D representations of Lowe’s products. The system uses an Oculus Rift in stores and Google Cardboard at home.
- AT&T brings virtual reality to stores – Fierce Retail
- AT&T, Samsung and Carnival Corporation Launch Virtual Reality Cruise Vacation – AT&T
- Tommy Hilfiger brings virtual reality to stores – Fierce Retail
- Lowe’s Holoroom uses VR to design rooms – Fierce Retail
Image: AT&T, Samsung, Carnival Corporation
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What categories beyond travel do you see as obvious opportunities for advertising supported by virtual reality? Do you see physical stores being a prime vehicle to bring virtual-reality driven messages to the public?