Supermarket in Adobe Future of Retail virtual reality experience.

Future of Retail VR

Project Type

Reimagining the Future of Retail in Virtual Reality

The Future of Retail experience is a design experiment that explores the possible futures of virtual reality shopping. Created in partnership with Adobe, the experience was designed to help audiences consider how emerging technologies could transform the way we shop. Virtual reality in particular, the experience suggests, could create a kind of hybrid retail process that brings together the smart convenience of online shopping and the physical immediacy of bricks-and-mortar stores.

While it’s easy to see how technologies like artificial intelligence are already changing the way we shop, it can be harder to imagine the impact of less straightforward innovations such as virtual intelligence. However, as Future of Retail demonstrates, these technologies have much to offer consumers and retailers alike. By recreating the retail experience in a more convenient, customisable format, virtual reality could help bridge the gap between traditional and online shopping.

Capitalising on the natural affordances of virtual reality as a medium, Future of Retail demonstrates how this technology could combine with others like artificial intelligence to extend and expand the shopping experience. Throughout the experience, holographic projections help consumers better understand and use data analytics in real time as they shop. Meanwhile, the immersive Mango Farm explores how larger-than-life promotions could result in more enjoyable and effective advertising.

Future of Retail was launched during the 2018 Adobe Symposium at Sydney’s International Convention Centre. The project was experienced by over 1,000 convention attendees, including key members of Australian and International media. Future of Retail is now set to be featured at a number of Adobe events around the world, showcasing the wide potential of virtual reality retail to global audiences. More information about the project can be found below and in this blog post.

Futuristic apartment made by creative agency for Adobe Future of Retail experience.

Visualising the Future

The authenticity of the virtual world within Future of Retail was crucial to its success. Every environment within the experience needed to present a believable version of the future, one that audiences could readily and easily immerse themselves within.

When audiences begin first step inside the experience, an apartment punctuated by exposed brick and polished concrete establishes a tone of the not-too-distant future. Meanwhile, the addition of futuristic elements like strip lighting and projections prime the audiences’ expectations for the spaces and environments that follow.

The virtual supermarket, accessed through a swirling portal in the apartment’s fridge, continues this modern architectural aesthetic. Here, white walls, steel beams and wooden boxes create a sense of clean comfort. Added to this are expansive windows overlooking a vibrant, mountainous landscape, bringing attention to a unique benefit of virtual reality retail: the possibility of doing your shopping in wondrous other landscapes.

  • Design

    • Adobe Creative Suite,
    • Autodesk Maya.
  • Development

    • Allegorithmic Substance Designer,
    • Allegorithmic Substance Painter,
    • Unreal Engine 4.
  • Hardware

    • HTC Vive Pro.
Futuristic design for Adobe Future of Retail virtual reality experience.
Inside virtual reality headset of Adobe Future of Retail experience.

Real Data in Real Time

While the design of the Future of Retail supermarket retains the physicality of real world stores, it also prioritises the advantages of artificial intelligence. Making data easily accessible to shoppers through simply designed holographic projections at every point of the experience demonstrates how virtual reality could simultaneously streamline traditional retail and humanise online shopping.

The visual nature of these holographic screens is particularly relevant. Unlike the typically invisible artificial intelligence systems of today, data in the Future of Retail experience is made visible to consumers at every point of the experience, encouraging them to use the power of analytics to their benefit throughout the shopping process. The way that these visualisations are tied to physical objects further improves their comprehensibility, making information easy for shoppers to digest.