How virtual reality will enhance the retail planning process

Retail Insight by Guy Moates Retail Specialist 03/10/2014

A first glimpse of how Oculus Rift and virtual reality will enhance the retail planning process. CADS Retail Sales Director gives us his view.


Retail planning with VR

Virtual site viewing with Google Glass

In America, the availability of Google Glass (and imminently available equivalent offerings from Samsung, Sony etc.) is beginning to transform the estate agency marketplace. Using Google+ Circles, an estate agent can offer a virtual house viewing. Prospective buyers can take an initial tour of the house in real time through the eyes of the agent and ask them to walk in certain directions, open cupboards, look left, right, measure this, go in there again etc.

We are excited by the opportunities this technology could offer retailers during the site feasibility and acquisition process. Interested onlookers could view the potential retail site using a combination of a mobile wi-fi hotspot and Google Glass worn by our surveyors on site. We can’t wait to try this out!

When Oculus Rift meets BIM (Building Information Modelling)

But what about the store design process? How soon will visiting proposed store fit outs virtually be a practical part of the sign off process?

Well, we think we have an imminent answer and it is in the form of our newly arrived Oculus Rift. For those unfamiliar with the Oculus Rift, it is a virtual reality headset which plugs into a PC creating an immersive 3D environment. Mariott Hotel has just launched a Virtual Travel Experience using Oculus Rift to teleport guests around the world in a totally immersive 4D sensory experience.

Oculus rift

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Using the Oculus Rift, we are working towards a project sign off meeting containing a virtual experience. The various stakeholders would remain sitting at their desks in different locations but virtually converging within the new store model. Everyone would be able to walk around the store, see and talk to each other as well as interact with the proposed new surroundings. All we need now is the smell of freshly baked bread and a little chilled air to heighten the sensory experience!

Of course the exciting leap here is the use of Virtual Reality gaming technology within the existing construction process and the availability of 3D BIM Building Information Models. We are already using our new Oculus Rift to explore new stores in real time leveraging the value of these models and creating a low entry point from a cost perspective.

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