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CONTEXT highlights VR retail channel opportunity

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 5 July 2016

Market analysis firm CONTEXT’s latest consumer research has highlighted virtual reality (VR) headsets and accessories as a strong growth opportunity for European technology retailers.

A whopping 79% of those questioned said that the ability to demonstrate a VR solution was an important factor in deciding which channel they would buy a VR headset from. That’s music to the ears of retailers that maintain a strong network of bricks and mortar stores, giving them a solid advantage over pure play e-tailers.

“Traditional retailers who have struggled to compete with their online rivals have an incredible opportunity with VR,” said Adam Simon, global managing director retail at CONTEXT. “VR transports you immediately to the most incredible places, and trying it out in store is the only way to experience it. Online 360-degree videos don’t come close, so retailers should jump at the chance to create dedicated spaces for their inquisitive shoppers.”

CONTEXT’s survey of 2511 consumers in UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain took place in May and June 2016 and was carried out by retail research consultancy Conlumino. Expert advice was also highly valued with 67% of consumers saying they would seek a retailer that could offer this form of assistance. Just over half of respondent said a retailer’s ability to provide post-sales services was important, with a third also rating the availability of home installation services as important.

Simon continued: “Retailers can provide the product demos and expert advice that consumers are aware they need. The added benefits that their staff and stores can provide in person are a significant opportunity for them over online competition, and one they should grasp with both hands.”

CONTEXT launched its new VR research service today at an event held at the British Museum in London, supported by multiple industry stakeholders including vendors AMD, Oculus and Dell, retailer John Lewis and distributor Exertis.

Speaking at the event, Nicolas Thibieroz, director of game engineering at AMD, said: “VR is one of the most eagerly anticipated technology developments in recent times.”

“With the launch of the affordable Radeon RX480 GPU we hope to accelerate the adoption of VR and the expansion of content creation,” he added.

Jonathan Wagstaff, UK & Ireland country manager at CONTEXT, said: “There is enormous market potential for VR and huge public interest. High quality VR hardware is becoming more affordable as the cost of gaming technology comes down.”

Wagstaff added: “The growth of PC gaming is helping to drive VR. CONTEXT has seen strong growth in channel sales of high-end GPUs, because this is the hardware VR headsets require.”

He continued: “Gaming PC sales are growing and despite a small volume base, represent a high revenue share. There are also higher channel margins available on gaming PCs and related accessories too.”

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