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Vomit reality in the shopping cart

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

Check out the IKEA VR store here

The Ikea virtual reality store was about bringing online shopping to life in a new, interactive way. An IKEA spokesperson said, “We know that it’s important for customers to see and experience our home furnishings range. Ikea has recently made a move towards online retailing, but we want to offer the full Ikea store experience to our online shoppers.” It is just another way for customers to look online for inspiration before making a purchase, using a different and more immersive tool.

I had a go and it allowed me to stand in a room-set and visualise it as if I were there in person. I could see the full range of sofas or beds at a glance and I could walk around the store. Problem was, it made me want to throw up!

This isn’t the first time I’ve wanted to vomit into my shopping cart. I had a similar experience at Samsung Flagship in Toronto. It took me most of the afternoon to recover from the headache and constant feeling of nausea. And only recently doing another VR experience did I figure out the cause. A key experiential component for retailers to explore.

The best of VR and digital rolled into one. Navigate the store seamlessly - sort of.

Vomit reality for me right

A key experiential component for retailers to explore

Topshop marked the start of Summer in their flagship Oxford Street store with a VR waterslide called “Splash”. Shoppers started their journey on a giant inflatable before being plunged into a journey sliding above the red buses and black cabs throughout the city. It was accompanied by a branded Snapchat lens to support the campaign and the summer-themed aquatic world continued via the social platform.

In addition, Topshop pumped the scent of sunscreen throughout the store and hosted a number of summer-themed pop-ups, such as a soft-serve ice cream vendor Milk Train.

AR, VR, MR what is it and do I need it?

Many retailers are exploring both Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality to enhance their shopping environment. But what’s the difference? I found my definitions and information at the


Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend in with contents in the real world. With AR, users can interact with virtual contents in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two.


Virtual reality is all about the creation of a virtual world that users can interact with. This virtual world should be designed in such a way that users would find it difficult to tell the difference from what is real and what is not. Furthermore, VR is usually achieved by the wearing of a VR helmet or goggles similar to the Oculus Rift.

Difference and similarities

Both virtual reality and augmented reality are similar in the goal of immersing the user, though both systems do this in different ways. With AR, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them. With VR, the user is isolated from the real world while immersed in a world that is completely fabricated.

But there is also the emergence of Mixed Reality (MR): Mixed reality is an overlay of synthetic content on the real world that is anchored to and interacts with the real world—picture surgeons overlaying virtual ultrasound images on their patient while performing an operation, for example. The key characteristic of MR is that the synthetic content and the real-world content are able to react to each other in real time.

25% of the population experience motion sickness when using VR

There are all kinds of symptoms of travel sickness, from nausea and vomiting through to sweating, increased salivation, warmth, dizziness, drowsiness, headache and loss of appetite (which I don’t get) to name a few.

A leading expert explains that when we're talking about visual mismatches, as we experience in virtual reality, the oculomotor symptoms are sometimes the worst. That's eye strain, difficulty focusing and headaches. There is effectively a sensory conflict or mismatch. Essentially one sense is telling us one thing—your eyes say you're walking around a virtual world—and another sense tells you another—your body tells you you're sat down.

Of course, it's much more complicated than that and there is lots of science explaining your balancing system and inner ear.

As women are around four times more likely to experience motion sickness symptoms than men in a VR environment, it means not only might they be unable to use VR for experiential purposes, but for other things too in a retail context. Like training.

Before you jump headfirst into the use of VR as an experiential tool within your retail environment, you need to do a bit of work around developing content that is less likely to make shoppers and staff barf. It’s a nightmare scenario. A would be shopper comes into your store, has a go on your VR and then pukes or worse, feels like crap the entire day with a headache. Imagine how they will remember your shopping experience.

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