Feature Story

What Black Friday and retail will look like in the future

by Stephanie Chan

What Black Friday and retail will look like in the future

See what experts say about this shopping day and why virtual reality may soon play a part.

Like many other shoppers across America, you may head to stores on the day after Thanksgiving to try and reap the retail sales. But there are some who think that the day meant to promote shopping isn't quite doing the job anymore.

ABC News reports that while sales and promotions are supposed to drives sales, retailers are really seeing demand for products go up around the back-to-school season. The National Retail Federation found that in 2016, 40% of shoppers were in-store while 44% were online.

The trend for online shopping is no surprise, and shoppers and finding deals on the web throughout the year—perhaps one reason why many are headed online versus the stores on Black Friday.

Because retailers can now promote and target user-specific sales, and items, the online experience becomes much more tailored and ultimately, intriguing.

See also: The digital age of retail

Cisco's Customer Experiences for Retail solutions help stores do just that—with digital signage, comprehensive insights on customers, and personalized experiences, shoppers want to engage with these retailers. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved with Cisco's Retail solutions.

Black Friday may not look the same as we're used to; in-person shopping amidst crowds of sales-hungry shoppers. What might intervene is virtual and augmented reality.

Jason Deign writes that AR and VR can change the way we shop because touching an object–seeing it in real-time—can make us want the product more. This effect is completed with VR goggles, which help customers get close to those desired objects.

Deign reports that home-buying is a perfect fit in VR, allowing potential buyers to walk room to room and to change certain home aspects to their liking. Ikea, Amazon, and other furniture and home décor retailers are also using augmented reality, like Apple's ARKit to help shoppers visualize the furniture in their home.

Other examples include Alibaba, the Chinese retail giant, who have their own VR store. CNET reports that Obsess, an AR and VR development startup for retailers, can create fully digital experiences for shoppers. Shops and mannequins on your phone can come to life via 3D AR overlays.

VR and AR can help shoppers see a multitude of products in their own home. Could Black Friday shopping go beyond online shopping and incorporate headsets for a fully virtual experience? We'll just have to wait a few years—or less—and see.