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Channel gets a chance to sell VR as users shun online ordering

Because VR really is a case of seeing is believing Context has found people are much more likely to buy from places that offer a demo

Virtual reality might seem to be one of those fringe technologies that gets gamers and estate agents offering home tours excited but leaves the rest of the B2B market cold.

The technology might have got linked to platforms like the Sony PlayStation but there are a growing number of business applications being developed that could start to make VR more of a channel play.

Research from analyst house Context has revealed that most people seem to grasp the concept of VR and a growing number are interested in using the technology, particularly to experience things like a football match as if they were there.

Context also found that when it came to buying the technology most customers would prefer to use bricks and mortar outlets than go online because they want to demo the products.

That will help those shop-front dealers that make a noise around VR as well as some of the traditional retailers that have seen Amazon and others pose a threat to other parts of their business.

"Traditional retailers who have struggle to compete with their online rivals have an incredible advantage with virtual reality," said Adam Simon, global managing director, retail at Context.

"VR transports you immediately to the most incredible places, and trying it out in the store is the only way to experience it. Online 360-degree videos don't come close, so retailers should jump at the chance to create dedicated spaces for their inquisitive shoppers," he added.

As well as providing the chance to demo the kit and experience VR first hand the retailers and resellers that choose to go big on the technology will also have to play an educational role. Context found customers wanted to buy from someone that could provide advice and post-sales care.

"Now that consumers are aware of the term, the onus is on manufacturers and retailers to tell the VR story. Further education is needed, to explain why VR merits the buzz it has generated and why people should begin to invest," added Simon.

The research indicated that some of the places where VR could make a real difference included health care, solving workplace challenges and in education.

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