Shop 'til your eyes pop.

Author:Lahey, Emily

U.S. CONSUMERS soon could see a rise in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) adoption beyond already popular video games, according to a global study from Worldpay, "The 360 Consumer: How VR Is Reshaping the Buying Experience." Despite only 24% of American consumers surveyed having used VR technology at some point, 37% of those believe it will become regularly employed by everyone--particularly for retail, as 65% feel the technology could change the way people shop.

Worldpay's research--which surveyed 16,000 consumers across Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom and U.S.--revealed that, globally, consumers have high expectations for VR and AR technology, with 55% agreeing that it soon will become as popular as smartphones. China currently leads the pack for VR adoption, with 93% of respondents reporting they would consider buying a product using a VR or AR device. The U.S. falls mid-pack, with 58%, while the UK and Netherlands check in at 35% and 30%, respectively.

Though video games are the most-popular activity among global VR and AR users, the possibilities for the retail industry soon may overshadow it. Fifty-four percent of U.S. consumers surveyed reported that they want to see VR technology in physical stores and 59% wish to see it used in shopping apps, maintaining it is a more fun way to shop. These numbers surge to 72% and 78%, respectively, for the respondents aged 25-34--demonstrating that younger generations stand to have the greatest impact on businesses choosing to implement VR and AR technology, which also has the potential to increase impulse purchases. Thirty percent of American respondents say the ability to visualize a product or experience in VR or AR would make them more likely to impulse buy. This number jumps to 53% for those aged 25-34.

"Virtual reality is quickly becoming a consumer-level technology and has the potential to transform the retail landscape by expanding merchants' interactions beyond just mobile and social," says Casey Bullock, general manager for North America at Worldpay. "With virtual and augmented reality, merchants can not only save consumers time, but offer a more-immersive shopping experience, and, ideally, provide payment options that consumers can complete while remaining fully immersed in that world."

Yet, before retailers can take advantage of this purchasing power, they first must address consumers' security concerns surrounding the...

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