Virtual reality in retail:
11 use cases, benefits, and adoption practices

Virtual reality in retail: 11 use cases, benefits, and adoption practices

April 29, 2023

VR in retail: a market overview

Virtual reality is becoming more widespread across many industries, and retail is no exception. Here are some numbers and facts that highlight the emergence of VR in retail.


The global VR in retail market is projected to reach $5.455 billion by 2028, growing at a СAGR of 13.82% from 2022-2028

Valuates Reports


32% of consumers used VR to test and purchase products; 19% used VR to buy luxury goods

PwC Research

Customer preferences

Almost 60% of consumers prefer at least one activity in the immersive world versus the physical alternative


Virtual reality shopping

79% of consumers active on the metaverse have purchased real-world products there


Scheme title: How consumers used VR in past six months
Base: all respondents (9,069); those who have used VR in the last six months (2,878)
Data source: PwC Research — Consumers respond to waves of disruption, 2022

Extended reality in retail: VR + AR

VR is one part of the broader concept called extended reality, encompassing such technologies as virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR, AR, MR). Since all these technologies can be applied in retail, retailers should understand the difference to make the best choice.
VirtualFully immersive virtual environmentAugmentedPartly immersive environmentHumanEnvironmentComputerMixed

Virtual reality

With VR, a user experiences a complete audiovisual immersion in a 3D digital environment. In other words, the virtual environment doesn’t complement but completely replaces reality, ensuring maximum customer engagement.

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Top 11 VR/AR use cases in retail

Here are the main applications of immersive technology in the retail industry, some of which imply the combination of VR and AR.

VR showrooms

Replacing physical showrooms with virtual ones, retailers help customers try out and purchase products online. With high-resolution 3D images and video, overlaid product descriptions, zoom-in, fabric close-ups, and multiple experience customization options, VR showrooms are fully equipped to deliver life-like experiences at a fraction of a live fashion show’s cost.

Examples of VR in retail

Let’s look at four VR use cases that have radically changed customers’ journeys and business workflows.

IKEA's Virtual-reality showrooms

For furniture retailers, VR showrooms have become almost a go-to business technology. Taking a leaf from IKEA’s book, which has been offering its Virtual Home Experience interior lab for about five years, multiple companies around the globe promptly launched VR showrooms for customers to explore products from different angles and in every possible configuration.

Benefits of virtual reality in retail

Enhanced customer engagement

With VR, a retailer can deliver outstanding customer experiences beyond real-world capabilities, which is a competitive advantage. Retailers can also generate different types of interactive content to encourage customers to buy more or provide them with entertainment and leisure.

Improved business performance

VR and AR help retailers improve store performance and employee productivity. For instance, customers can use AR apps to quickly find product locations or check product info without turning to a human specialist. Meanwhile, physical store employees can focus on more critical tasks like marketing and in-person sales.

Advanced marketing capabilities

VR devices collect large amounts of data that help retailers get a clearer picture of their audience and better understand their behavior, especially if complemented with artificial intelligence. Therefore, VR technology enables various marketing techniques, such as virtual advertising, which helps retailers run effective and engaging marketing campaigns.

More sources of income

Virtual or augmented reality can bring an additional sales and revenue channel. Since the number of VR and AR users grows yearly, retailers can use immersive technologies to expand their customer bases, foster online sales, and ensure stable business growth.

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VR adoption barriers

VR adoption is also riddled with several challenges. Learn how to solve them and use VR as a viable tool for digital transformation in retail.  






The average VR project requires rigorous 3D modeling, experience design, software development, and thorough usability and performance testing. All these factors make VR projects quite costly.

An experienced end-to-end VR development provider can help you design and build a bespoke solution tailored to your needs and optimize the project costs in advance.

Technology unawareness



Another reason why retail businesses balk at adopting VR is customers’ unawareness of the technology. For example, customers, especially those who are not tech-savvy, may feel anxious about the hardware and VR-enabled experiences.

Education is the key to dispelling customers’ apprehensions. By providing a detailed demonstration of how to handle headsets and controllers and use all the features of a VR app in an engaging and accessible way, the brand can ease end-user concerns and ignite their interest in immersive experiences.

User experience



VR user experience is also a concern for retailers, as the technology is infamous for causing motion sickness and fatigue.

Retailers can provide short VR experiences, no longer than 20 minutes, to minimize fatigue risk.

Popular AR/VR technologies

When working on AR and VR projects, developers use specific technology for creating and providing immersive experiences.

ARKit and ARCore

ARKit and ARCore are software development kits (SDKs) developed by Apple and Google, respectively, for supporting augmented reality (AR) experiences on mobile devices. They are the default (and usually the best) starting point for AR development, which targets mobile platforms.

VR implementation roadmap in retail business


Project design

Developers specify software requirements to plan a practical and future-proof VR solution.


3D content creation

VR simulation is just an empty shell without quality and engaging content, so developers proceed with its creation early on.


Moving from 3D to VR

Developers use ready-made 3D graphics to create a full-fledged virtual reality and add sounds and other environmental elements.


Testing and release

Finally, developers conduct multiple technical and user acceptance tests before releasing the VR solution to the market.

VR implementation best practices

Here are several professional recommendations to help retailers ensure successful VR adoption.

Calculating TCO

If a retailer fails to predict the cost of VR development accurately, developers can overrun the project budget, which is often accompanied by delays and, consequently, increased time-to-market. To avoid such problems, retailers should calculate all VR costs in advance, and here, such a parameter as the total cost of ownership (TCO) may come in handy. To identify the TCO of its future VR solution, a retailer should consider the following factors:
  • Hardware cost
  • Software development cost
  • Data migration cost
  • Ongoing maintenance cost
  • Employee training cost
  • Data management cost

Provide an outstanding customer experience with VR

The retail industry is no stranger to VR. Over the years, immersive applications have been making in-store and online shopping experiences fun and memorable, helping brands stand out and drive consumer loyalty.  Although obstacles to VR adoption still exist, they are minimized due to the technology's advancement and growing expertise. So if you're ready to transform your retail business and offer a VR shopping experience to your customers, Itransition experts can ensure a smooth VR adoption.