8 Jul 2021

Retail Tech Thursday: Virtual Reality eGrocery shopping is on the way

Retail Tech Thursday is our weekly check-in here at Spreckley, where we share the most interesting retail and retail technology news, innovations and trends.

This week, despite the recent revelation that Boris Johnson plans to end social and economic restrictions in just two weeks’ time, the eGrocery market continues to soar, with the likes of Sainsbury’s and Ocado witnessing strong demand for online groceries long after the last lockdown ended. Our client Kooomo also explores augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and the future of retail, diving deeper into how immersive technologies are transforming the retail landscape.

High demand for eGroceries continues

In a post-COVID world, the only way for supermarkets to secure long-term success will be through investment in sophisticated eCommerce technologies and integrated supply chain solutions. The reality is that while restrictions are coming to an end and shoppers will return to physical stores, online services are now expected as standard and retailers looking to remain competitive in the years ahead will need to adapt.

Sainsbury’s is a prime example of a retailer that chose to bolster its online services as a means to survive, reporting a 26% increase in eGrocery sales in the 16 weeks to June 26th compared to the same time last year. The supermarket’s online sales were also up by a whopping 142% from two years ago, calling for retailers to invest in eCommerce solutions and bolster their online experiences to cater to growing demand.

Ocado, the technology-led grocery shop, is another retailer experiencing high levels of consumer interest and, subsequently, growing sales. In fact, the online supermarket recently reported a 20% increase in revenue and a narrowing of pre-tax losses, despite the re-opening of physical stores. Essentially, while we have witnessed many shoppers return to their favourite supermarkets over the past few months, retailers will have to contend with the fact that consumers habits have changed forever and eGrocery still has a significant role to play in the future of retail.

The rise of AR and VR in retail

AR and VR are set to redefine the customer journey in 2021 and beyond, says eCommerce platform provider Kooomo this week in A1 Retail.

Ciaran Bollard, CEO at Kooomo, explains: “The retail experience is not just about what you buy any more, it’s also about being socially connected, and providing something much more meaningful and complex to keep users engaged. Retailers looking to thrive must therefore bolster their eCommerce offerings with AR and VR technologies, and adopt new methods to interact with customers throughout their shopping journey.”

Ciaran goes on to explore the top AR and VR technologies that are shaping retail: “The most popular AR and VR eCommerce experience to date is the 3D virtual showroom. To clarify, when we talk about this showroom, we don’t just mean a virtual copy of a physical store, but a technological interface that enables customers to experiment with items the same way they would in person.

“Today, there are a number of AR and VR solutions that businesses can use to maintain high-quality shoots while working remotely. For example, technologies have been introduced that enable retailers to test models’ poses and facial expressions before finalising the shot, as well as possible backgrounds and lighting.

“And finally, the next phase of AR and VR set to transform retail is the gamification of the online shopping experience. This means applying game-like features to a non-game context, which not only helps to drive user engagement but also pushes consumers towards certain behaviours.”