Op-Ed: Accenture VR goes mainstream, sorta, kinda, in a way

Posted Dec 18, 2017 by Paul Wallis
Virtual reality has been around for two decades. In that time, it has done effectively nothing much, commercially. Now it’s trying again, thanks to Accenture’s fashion app.
Child with a virtual reality headset  London Film and Comic Con  2017.
Child with a virtual reality headset, London Film and Comic Con, 2017.
The Accenture VR app is based on fairly good presentation and a shopping motif. Accenture is THE place for VR/AR, (Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality for those allergic to acronyms) and this is top of the line VR as it now is. The big question is whether this can connect with public desires and deliver the sort of punch VR needs to make itself credible in the markets.
To be strictly fair to Accenture’s ideas and VR/AR work:
The overall idea is quite practical. It’s a good sales platform. It does offer a lot of scope for creative promotions, and it’s a potentially strong option for delivering a lot of selling points very efficiently.
I’d go so far as to say that VR/AR in fashion in particular is inevitable, in some form. This is an industry which really needs strong presence to make an impact and deliver a good image in the market.
Accenture also, to its credit, seems to have managed to deliver better VR resolution and good creative additions to its products. VR presentations in the past have been anything from great to barf-inducing gaming experiences. VR itself, in fact, needs to go HD and high quality UX to really connect, largely because of the years of half-ass efforts in the past.
Commercial realities, those pesky things
The major commercial issue is matching the addition of hardware and software to people’s actual needs and business budgets. Can X Brand Fashion afford VR? Can their customers? That’s not clear.
The big brands can afford it, sure, but they’re not the major markets. The mainstream market is “Walmart/Amazon/Craigslist/Whatever”, whether anyone likes it or not. Whether you’re selling bikinis or snow shoes, or both, market accessibility is defined by costs and proof of value.
Another problem is promotional – To deliver a new platform is one thing; to add value for customers is another. Do you get discounts, specials, unique selling assets, etc. with VR? Doesn’t look like it, although these are likely natural evolutions.
VR as a viable commercial option
VR specifically does NOT need another wannabe/sorta/kinda didn’t work outcome. VR has been living on promises, not delivery. That’s what’s doing the serious damage to VR and to a lesser extent AR. The credibility of these media MUST be backed up by hard commercial performance and visible reliability.
Another big issue is operating costs for all involved. What about big data loads, streaming, ISP neuroses, (thanks FCC) and similar invaluable obstacles? What about El Crud EZ Fail hardware and “Will it work on the new iPhone?” issues? How much does it cost consumers and businesses to partake of this Feast of the Fickle Fashions?
Accenture has, however, definitely picked the right target to try out its new VR/AR. Fashion is a great testing ground for VR. It’s a very tough, highly competitive market. Its sales metrics are like hidden mystic revelations to competent marketers, and it’s also a potentially very rewarding market.
Word of advice to the fashionable on both sides of the industry – VR might just be what you’re looking for. Ask questions, and get straight answers. Accenture may have found a pot of gold at the end of this picky rainbow, after all. Ask them first, you’ll at least get the current info you need.