I’ve been bigging up the importance of virtual retail for some time, so it’s great to see Westfield embracing the notion with its latest Future Fashion phygital installation taking place this week and next, at the White City and Stratford London shopping centre locations.
The VR experience is courtesy of digital specialists Inition (the team behind Topshop’s virtual LFW show experience in February 2014), and allows visitors to the designated Future Fashion area, to try out the spring/summer 15 fashion themed virtual worlds created especially for Westfield. Users can try on the Oculus Rift headsets and immerse themselves in a denim hued or floral world that twists and turns as users gesture with their hands forwards, backwards or left to right.
‘Consumers are more tech savvy than ever before, a third of shoppers will walk out of a store that has no wifi,’ says Myf Ryan, marketing director for Westfield UK. ‘Digital is such an integrated part of people’s lives, it’s all about enhancing that digital shopping journey for our customers,’ she continues. ‘With the Future Fashion promotion we wanted to push the boundaries of how people interact with the latest technology. We know that 57% of our customers respond to interactive digital displays, so we wanted to make that aspect more fun and connect it back to our shopping app, Edit Me, where they can personalise that shopping visit. Westfield’s continued focus on digital is a key part of our experience strategy where services such as click and collect and online curation keep people coming back to our shopping centres,’ she says.
The Retail Planner verdict: The Future Fashion promotion is a highly phygital showcase for how VR might become more integrated into the future shopping experience. With these kind of experimental digital exercises coming out of the Westfiled Labs R&D department in San Francisco, the retailer is showing it is a phygital first company where digitizing the experience for customers is a key part of their engagement strategy.
Addition: Marketing Magazine has produced a great behind the scenes video of how Inition installed it all.