There are lingering questions about when and if augmented and virtual reality will become a big deal with consumers, at least at scale.
Now Gartner is weighing in, suggesting that 5G is going to give both AR and VR a major boost.
The research firm estimates that 100 million consumers will shop in AR online and in-store by 2020.
By 2020, nearly half (46%) of retailers plan to deploy either AR or VR solutions to meet customer experience requirements, according to an earlier retailer Gartner survey in the U.S., Canada, Europe and China.
Some retailers, including Ikea, Overstock.com and Wayfair, already have gravitated to using AR, so consumers can check what furniture and other items would look like in their home by virtually placing items using an app on their phones.
The technology behind the virtual retail solutions also has moved 15% to 30% along the popular Gartner Hype Cycle.
“Gartner expects that the implementation of 5G and AR/VR in stores will transform not only customer engagement but also the entire product management cycle of brands,” states Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner.
Implementations and pilots cited by Gartner as examples include Alibaba’s full AR shopping experience, Adidas using VR video to promote its outdoor clothing collection, and eBay’s Australia’s partnership with Myer to create personalized stores and virtual tours by Tesco.
Even if the estimates are off by half, 50 million customers using AR to shop would be a big shift.