Illustration of virtual reality retail.
April 29, 2021

How to Create Virtual Reality Retail Experiences

Data Management

Virtual reality retail experiences are transforming brick-and-mortar shopping. With the global augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) market currently standing at more than 19.44 billion, the push to expand into virtual spaces continues to grow.

Creating a virtual shopping experience helps both retailers and consumers. It can reduce overall operating costs and offer immersive experiences for consumers to try and customize before they buy.

So how can retailers build VR in retail? Learn how you can leverage game development technology with our virtual reality retail examples.

Read on, or skip ahead to the section that interests you most:

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Virtual Reality Retail Benefits

Virtual reality in retail's expansion has occured relatively recently, as traditional shopping experiences like shopping in-store have begun to decline in favor of more hassle-free options. However, the simplicity of virtual reality retail is only one selling point. Customers are also flocking to virtual reality retail thanks to its emphasis on innovation and personalization.

Drive Engagement with Current & Potential Customers

AR/VR in retail can dramatically improve how customers engage with brands and boost involvement. How?

Augmented reality is being used to help guide customers through a store to locate items faster. It also can be used to virtually display products. Virtual reality showrooms have become common at furniture retailers like Ikea and the home sections at Macy's. Studies show that this technology has reduced return rates by letting customers visualize what pieces will look like in their space. It's also becoming a more common customer expecation -- with 60% of surveyed shoppers saying they want virtual reality to play a role in their shopping experience. 

And with virtual reality, customers can try on items or tour a store from the comfort of their couch. 2020 saw a major increase in this technology, with virtual samplings increasing 32% that year. In the years since, it's evolved even further and integrated with other tools – for example, Google recently announced a new AI shopping feature that lets customers virtually try on clothes. 

Personalize the VR Shopping Experience

By customizing products, customers can see themselves in their purchase. Instead of holding an item, they can get a 360-degree view and tailor it to their exact wants and needs. This experience could never be replicated in a physical store.

Because they can personalize their products, customers are happier and three times more likely to buy. They're also more likely to have longer customer journeys and it's predicted they'll spend more, according to research from the shopping service Klarna. VR shopping is essentially a free trial for hair colors, makeup, clothes, and more! By personalizing and delivering a virtual reality shopping experience to wherever customers are located, they are less likely to return items. This helps keep retailers competitive and drive profits.

Virtual Reality Retail Digital Marketing

Marketing is all about engaging with customers. Leveraging virtual reality allows retailers to build 3D content. These ads attract more attention than a traditional banner, potentially leading to more sales.

Companies can strike gold when they combine VR in retail with social media. This is because customers are more willing to share their experience. Also, VR headsets are collecting data from consumers to help with social media targeted marketing

VR Retail Training

Working in retail involves training a lot of new hires. This process that can lead to costly mistakes while the employee gets up to speed. Using virtual reality can help simulate real-world experiences, expediting the onboarding process. Minimizing the risks involved with training also makes workplaces safer.

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What You Need to Build VR in Retail

With 10.8 million units of VR sold in 2022, the future of VR in retail is only growing. No matter your industry, virtual reality requires the right software to get things moving. But what do you need to get started?

Game Development Engines

Game engines are vital for VR software development. They bring all your assets together and give you a powerful editor for 3D elements. These tools integrate with artist and designer software to build realistic visuals and immersive experiences. Let’s review some of the most popular game engines…

Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) offers teams a powerful set of development tools. It works with a multitude of VR technologies. With UE4 you get:

  • Access to scripts in C++ and/or Python to customize the tool for your needs.
  • Multiplayer framework combined with a flexible editor.
  • Blueprint visual scripting which helps you design prototypes fast.
Learn More About Unreal >>


Unity is well-known for mobile game development. Their platform is designed to help beginners get started quickly. For virtual reality retail, Unity has been used to design training and simulation courses because it works well with all popular VR platforms. With Unity you get:

  • Powerful 3D editor.
  • Built-in artist and designer tools, as well as support for CAD tools.
  • Collaboration features that streamline your process.
Learn More About Unity >>

Digital Asset Creation + Management

3D modeling and rendering software — like 3ds Max and Maya — are essential to create a virtual reality retail experience. Teams can use these tools to create 3D animations textures, and effects. With Maya, you can also create motion graphics. It is used for 3D rendering, 3D modeling (data or visual), and 3D shading.

Get drop and drag version control for creatives >>

With so many types of digital assets created for a virtual reality shopping experience, you need a tool to manage and store iterations, plus compile files for game engines builds. Version control allows you to securely version game engine files, 3D images, and more while creating VR retail. And with the right system, you can even version your builds and other large binary assets. Think of version control as your foundation. Then you can integrate all other tools, allowing for seamless collaboration across your team.

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Start Building Your Virtual Reality Retail Experience

There are endless possibilities for VR software development. To streamline your builds and get the most out of your game engine, use the tool trusted by 19 of the top 20 game dev studios — Helix Core version control.

Why Helix Core for VR in Retail?

Helix Core delivers lightning-fast performance to control all your digital assets. You get a single source of truth for your entire project. Helix Core stores binary files, audio files, video files, code, and more all in one spot — and it scales as your project grows.

Perforce Federated Architecture helps you deliver large files around the globe faster with superior performance. It is cloud ready. Now you can transport large binary files without the WAN wait.

Plus, Helix Core integrates with the tools your teams already use. For code, you can customize and automate workflows for branching (Perforce Streams) and code review (Helix Swarm). Everything you create can be securely stored with Helix Core’s access control.

Virtual Reality Retail Software

To build the next VR experience, try Helix Core free for up to 5 users.


Learn how inVRsion is building the future of VR in retail with Perforce.

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Virtual Reality Retail Example: inVRsion

inVRsion is an industry-leading company specializing in virtual reality shopping experiences. Michele Antolini, CTO and Product Owner inVRsion, was formerly the lead programmer for Milestone studio. His experience has helped him leverage game development technology, practices, and methods to spearhead virtual reality grocery shopping and more.

Building a solution for VR in retail involves additional technical complexity. Teams need to consider what the user sees in the VR headset, but also what is seen in the external screen. And as the scope increases, prioritization and collaboration can become increasingly difficult.

Prioritize Complex Projects

The first step to successfully prioritize such a complicated project was to create a common view across teams — a single source of truth. Helix Core allowed everyone on the team to work together without duplicating efforts. Giving everyone visibility into the project helped propel the team forward.

One practice that Michele ensures that they use from the gaming world is to prototype and iterate continuously. Helix Core combined with game engines allowed for rapid tests and almost immediate feedback. They could involve customers directly in the development process, incorporate their feedback in real time, and personalize the experience while creating.

Involve Customers Early and Often

To promote the user experience, inVRsion created an interface where customers could configure the system on their own. Each version could be tested by downloading packages and using the right controllers and headsets, etc.

For inVRsion, building the VR shopping experience is just the beginning. And it will be built with Perforce.

Get more tips from 5 leading studios >>

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Free Tools for VR (Virtual Reality) Retail

Helix Core integrates with the most popular game engines, including:

See for yourself how you can use Helix Core for to develop the next great virtual reality shopping experience. Get virtual reality retail software free. Start using Helix Core — free for up to 5 users and 20 workspaces.


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