Activity Superstore Leans On VR To Sell Experiences In Debenhams

VR is finally going to take a stab at revolutionising the way consumers in the UK shop; as the country’s leading in-store gift experience company, Activity Superstore, announces a VR experience to entice shoppers to spend.

Activity Superstore offers consumers the ability to try something new, and its huge array of experiences make the perfect gift for Christmas. It’s often hard to get consumers to recognise the benefit of these experiences in-store, however. After all, unlike most products people buy in shops, there’s no tangible way to know what the gift is going to be like until you’re actually there. Thankfully, this new VR experience should change that.

Four of the company’s gift experiences are being demonstrated through the use of VR, including the chance to fly through the skies on a helicopter, or have a competitive paintball battle. The in-store VR experience takes place in a 2.5m by 2.5m space, and is delivered via Samsung Gear VR and Samsung Galaxy S7 hardware.

Digital experience creative agency, Smyle, has been working with Activity Superstore since Spring this year from concept to completion, by producing 3D visualisations of the display space, storyboarding and film production, VR development and production, as well as installation of the stand. While Disrupt, a reach company, has trained the Activity Superstore team to deliver the activities.

The idea is to give shoppers in store a retail theatre experience, driving sales in the run up to Christmas and delivering ROI. This innovative approach makes the link between VR and the purchase being made in store, with the power of visualisation enabling gift buyers to get excited about heading in store.

Activity Superstore CEO, Shaun Powell explains: “We see continual growth from our in-store gift experiences and wanted to provide our retail partners with a spectacle, which had a direct link to ROI and purchase for us, creating something entirely unique for shoppers to drive footfall in-store. We’re working with Debenhams to enhance customer engagement in-store while also delivering a virtual representation of our most thrilling gifts.”

This is not the first time VR has been used in retail stores. Virgin Holidays has had success with boosting its sales by transporting would-be travellers to their destination without leaving one of the company’s retail stores. It achieved that through the use of VR, but industry experts still think augmented reality technology would be more effective in a retail environment.

Tristan Greenwood, who has led the project at Smyle comments: “By using 360° film shots and Samsung’s Gear VR and S7 hardware, we were able to create a truly immersive experience. It’s a great concept that really allows consumers to step into the experience firsthand.”

The project launched its first site on November 2, with the opening of a retail experience in Debenhams flagship store on Oxford Street, London. The promotion will be rolled out in nine of Debenhams’ stores by November 22 with a further 12 providing interactive encounters from December 11 throughout the festive shopping period.

Richard Vanoli, head of merchandising at Debenhams, concludes: “We know that customers buying gift experiences are keen to get an understanding of what the activity will look like before they purchase. Incorporating virtual reality into the sales process enables us, along with our partner Activity Superstore, to give shoppers an immersive snapshot of what is on offer.”