UK fast-fashion giant Topshop unleashed a summer-centric virtual reality (VR) initiative at its London flagship last week. The move tapped into the trend for more immersive and sensorially engaging in-store experiences – a direct legacy of the rising experiential economy (see Active Flagships).
Topshop Splash was created with British digital agency Fat Unicorn and UK architects Your Studio. It followed a 2014 project with British technologists Inition, which transported visitors to the front row of its Unique catwalk show.
This time around, the store windows became a pool scene featuring a water slide.
Visitors sat on an inflatable at the slide entrance, donning an Oculus Rift headset to experience a twisting and turning CGI journey through London’s streets. Other sensory elements, such as the holiday-evoking scent of sun cream, deepened the immersion – and the connection to Topshop’s summer collections.
Ostensibly a soft-sell exercise – the VR visuals didn’t display product, nor any mode of linking back to e-commerce – Topshop capitalised on the brand buzz in store with additional waterslide props, micro pop-ups, an ice-cream stall and summer-themed hair and nail bars.
Translating that excitement to social media, for one Saturday only, it released a bespoke Snapchat lens featuring an aquatic-themed world, prompting its digital fans to migrate in-store – only those using the slide could access it. See Social Media to Store for more on connecting the behemoth of social media to in-store experiences – teens’ two favourite brand spaces.
For the definitive guide to retail’s VR-fuelled future, see Retail’s VR Future: Communal, Sensorial Digital, publishing on June 15.