Blended reality retail – how we will shop till we drop in 2030


Bradley Pulford | VP | Managing Director | Africa | HP | mail me

Whether through augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) – the reality is that the future of shopping is blended and immersive and will harness innovative digital tools by creating immersive experiences to reel in, and keep customers engaged and shopping for more.

The latest Statista market share and consumer data project that 33.4million South Africans could be converted to online shopping by 2025 with electronics making up a majority of the sales.

Already, a recent Deloitte study noted that more than 70% of South Africans were shopping online at least once a month. Most cited convenience, COVID-19, and saving time, in that order as their reasons for increased online shopping. Additionally, data experts also add how there’s been a noticeable shift in how consumers engage with shopping habits in the past 12 months – with more moving from in-person shopping, to online.

Interactive, connected, and shoppable

Blended reality retail in a world that is interactive, connected, and shoppable is only just materialising. Brands that get it right will bring digital wallets, gaming, and mixed realities together, along with digital storytelling and new forms of engagement – a kind of 360-degree retail.

Brands are banking on the online shopping trend as the platform that will leave digital catalogues in the dust, one not confined by device, medium, or channel.

Some are already filling their digital shelves with products that will get your ‘screen time attention’. They’re developing creative and interactive experiences where the pixelated sky’s the limit. Why? To excite the next generation, already buried in their smartphones and video games, about shopping for goods, services, and even real estate in an entirely new way.

We are looking ahead to bring our own vision of product excellence to usher the digital economy into being and empower its users. Our strategy is to make products that contribute efficiently to the digital economy which involves, sufficient information, time efficiency, affordability, and secure personalisation. A key part of this effort is to reimagine product or service attraction.

Virtual Reality experiences

VR setups like the Reverb G2, coupled with gloves and sensors, can offer hyper-realistic immersive experiences, allowing users to interact and transition to various virtual spaces, even ‘tunnel’ from one world to another, and interact with others.

When we introduced the Reverb G2 Solution, our goal was to bring powerful, intelligent technology to developers for them to create new hyper-personalised, engaging, and adaptive VR experiences for everyone.

Taking this new reality to mind, we’ve put together a guide to help you navigate your ‘new’ shopping experience:


Gaming is now a major sales platform for retailers where real-world and digital goods are bought, gifted, and exchanged. Video games are emerging as a mainstream channel for online consumer engagement, and even sales. Retailers are using the virtual environment of video games to connect with customers at a level they have never before.

Meta mall

Visit app stores or digital marketplaces in virtual space. Drop into awe-inspiring digital hangouts to see concerts, entertainment, and fashion shows. Be enticed by storefronts and personalized offers. Browse with friends away from crowded physical malls – an exciting new and immersive world of shopping.

Digital workers and salespeople

Salespeople that are created using Al will interact with real-life virtual versions of ourselves. Businesses will fill the metaverse with a digital workforce that humans will converse with.

Livestreamed shopping assistants

Expect real-life expertise on retail in the virtual world, where human-assistants-as-avatars offer advice on your real-world wardrobe, give out discount coupons, and inform shoppers of the latest sale. They also push personalized content to customers who then purchase a physical outfit.

Book a vacation

With a virtual travel agency, you can ski the mountain, tour your resort or hotel room before you book, sit in different rows on the plane, and get a preview of what you’ll see on a cruise or safari. Then have the avatar agents help you choose destinations and book flights and accommodations.

Paying for goods

Seamlessly connect your real-life bank account to your digital avatar. Use biometrics to authenticate that it’s physically you. Click to make payments using open banking. Many of these tools are already readily available to us to jump into the digital economy.

Together, we already have the tools we need

Many businesses are now harnessing the tools already mentioned to make their own products and services chains easier to reach online.  However, it’s not enough for businesses to simply adopt these tools and practices themselves. It’s crucial for companies to collaborate with partners across the entire supply chain.



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