Service levels are a key differentiator for the channel when selling virtual reality (VR) hardware and software, research from Context has found.
Context has published the results of a survey that aimed to shed more light on the opportunities that VR presents for the channel, and presented the results at a summit of its VR research group.
The survey of consumers across Europe found that 68 per cent consider the chance to demo the equipment as a pivotal factor when choosing where to purchase kit; followed by price, expert advice and post-sales support.
Adam Simon, global managing director for retail at Context, said that these results highlight how important service levels will be for channel vendors, distributors and resellers when taking VR to market.
"This is pointing to the fact that people need to have some kind of interaction and support if they are going to adopt this technology [and] that is going to start off with a demo opportunity. It shows the importance of service."
The survey also found that 26.3 per cent of consumers would shun online retailers in favour of a specialist technology retailer.
"Traditional retailers who have struggled to compete with their online rivals have an incredible advantage with virtual reality," Simon added.
Jonathan Wagstaff of Context highlighted the important part that analysts will play in bringing the channel up to speed on VR.
"We're very uniquely placed because we work with every tier of the supply chain. We work with vendors, distributors, resellers and retailers," he said. "When an emerging category comes along, the job of the research house is to define those categories and help the channel understand them."
"We're defining this market with the channel, for the channel."
Wagstaff also pointed out that VR is about "far more than gaming" – a point supported by speakers at the event.
Dr Matthew Nicolls teaches classics at the University of Reading and has used VR to build a recreation of ancient Rome which he uses in lectures. He explained that VR's presence in the education sector will increase.
"It's bringing a new level of immersion, realism and real-time experience that I think has the potential to dramatically change the way we teach and research," he said.
"A tremendous amount will happen in this technology [and] it's going to be a really fun few years as we see how this embeds into the classroom at all levels."
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