Retail is rapidly changing driven by the challenge of e-Commerce (Amazon). Traditional retail brings the advantage of an in-store experience with the ability to see and touch a subset of the available products.
On-lines brings access to a much larger set of products and the ability to do product and price comparison. It’s clear that the answer isn’t “either/or” but rather how to blend the best of both consumer modalities. VR/VR is a perfect example, clearly bringing new consumer experiences to both. IKEA Place is an early example.
IKEA is a huge, global supplier of inexpensive home furnishings and appliances. IKEA Place is a smartphone application developed by IKEA that uses Augmented Reality technology (e.g., Apple AR Kit) and cloud-based data access to enable an IKEA customer to visualize the appearance of an IKEA product in their home (or office).
Business Need: Improve IKEA customer on-line experience; increase e-Commerce sale of products; encourage customer visits to the store.
Retail is an excellent example of the broader merging of physical and virtual worlds and one of the few that exists at the center of an important, existing commercial experience (retail). From that point of view, IKEA place is only the very beginning, not the end. It’s easy to imagine future services that fully capture an individuals home or workplace (using AR constructive systems and cloud based storage) and enable the visualization of entirely new furnishings, or colors, or lighting or floor coverings.
Business Need: Retail is in turmoil with the confluence of traditional stores and e-Commerce. Retail is brutally competitive and low-margin. Anything that improves market share, customer satisfaction or financial efficacy is critical to understand and explore.
Edge Need: Putting new tech in physical store locations is challenging if it requires installing and operating servers, while at the same time many of the services offered require computation acceleration (beyond what a smartphone application can do) and high-bandwidth, low-latency access to those resources.