How to engage fashion retail with VR: A consumer perspective [Abstract]

To secure the future of the UK retail sector, retailers must understand how to present emerging technology in a format that facilitates consumer purchase behaviour, based on established consumer investigation methods (Parker & Wang, 2016). Despite being worth over £60,800 million (Dover, 2018), the UK fashion retail sector faces an uncertain future. High street footfall is at crisis level, electronic commerce’s (e-Commerce) performance is weakening and retailers are increasingly reliant on debt (Santi, 2019). According to KPMG (2018), overall sales were down by 3.1% in April 2018, the biggest decline since 1995. Online retail sales also experienced the lowest November growth since 2011, increasing by only 8.1% year-over-year (IMRG, 2018). Developing disruptive technologies such as Virtual Commerce (v-Commerce) has great potential to increase the competitive advantage of any retailer who can tap into the shopping behaviours of consumers. Despite such a perspective being heralded for over a decade (Arakji & Lang, 2008; VRARA, 2017) v-Commerce has yet to have a significant impact on the shopping behaviours of consumers. V-Commerce’s lack of disruption is due to no consensus existing on what the optimal experience is and how virtual stores can be effectively designed (Xue, Parker, & McCormick, 2018). Without understanding the format consumers desire from v-Commerce interactions, virtual retail will remain an interesting toy of marketing (e.g. Hope Allwood, 2016) instead of a pivotal driver of sales (Bonetti, Warnaby, & Quinn, 2018). To address these issues, this paper investigates which format (e.g. fully immersive/ augmented) of V-Commerce experience fashion consumers best respond to. To address this research aim, this paper embodies three research objectives: 1. To understand the consumer response (attitudes and motivations) of v-Commerce, allowing retailers to meet the growing and diversified needs of consumers and enhance competitiveness. 2. To understand the moderating variables that affect shoppers' perception when developing a virtual environment for retailing, allowing designers to develop more effective and emotional seductive v-Commerce platforms 3. To understand how to create effective v-Commerce environments, allowing designers to create v-Commerce platforms that encourage buying behaviours This paper suggests consumers are expected to see a vivid shopping environment and real product features rather than virtual built. Hedonic consumers are proven to be more open to accept v-Commerce than utilitarian consumers, consumers aged 18 to 34 regard as important the functionality including interactivity, personalisation and social networking that VR could offered and expect to obtain a cost-efficiency shopping experience through VR platforms.