Bold John Lewis VR move should be applauded, Martin Newman

Bold John Lewis VR move should be applauded, Martin Newman

John Lewis recently announced it was testing out a new piece of virtual reality equipment called Visualise Your Space.

This is the sort of disruptive innovation that retailers need to be embracing, if they’re going to earn their places on the High Street of the future, according to CX expert Martin Newman. “I’ve learned many things over my years in retail, but one is that customers are deeply visual individuals. Of course they are: they’re buying new items to put in their homes, and, even in the absence of this advanced VR technology, they’d already be imagining what those products look like.,” he says in a blog post.

“This allows John Lewis – and, in the future, I’d hope, many more retailers – to take them another step closer to that visualisation; to take away one more barrier to making the purchase.”

The technology will be piloted in three stores, Kingston, Cambridge and Horsham, in late June and early July. “You can see the potential pitfalls already: what if the technology fails? Do they have back-up equipment, other iPads and headsets, so that they don’t end up offering a service on which they can’t make good?” Newman writes. “How convincing will the visualisations be, or will they look like some of those early computer-generated MTV videos in the mid-1980s? John Lewis is a high-end retailer, and people’s expectations will be high for a clean, convenient, seamless technology experience.”

But these are the risks that any innovator is forced to take. “Someone had to try this kind of thing, to leverage the exponentially increasing power of AI more widely in the marketplace, and I, for one, applaud John Lewis for taking the plunge. They could have waited it out, used their bulk and customer base to sustain themselves while someone smaller, nimbler but perhaps more exposed took the risk, but instead they’ve identified an opportunity and really seized the spirit of carpe diem. if you’re 100% sure, you’re 100% late,” Newman concludes.

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