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New Walker Sands Study: Drones and Virtual Reality as a Solution for the Modern Retail Experience

Erin Jordan

Drones and virtual reality have been in the news a lot lately - especially with the FAA rulings grounding commercial deliveries via drone and Apple announcing a new patent for a virtual headset.

But are consumers interested in these technologies?  We surveyed more than 1,400 US consumers to find out as a part of our Walker Sands’ 2015 Future of Retail Study, and the answer is yes - they’re anxiously awaiting them and welcome their introduction to the shopping experience.

  • Two-thirds of consumers expect to receive their first drone-delivered package in the next five years and 36% expect it in the next two.
  • Virtual reality headsets aren’t far behind - with 65% of consumers interested in trying virtual reality shopping.

While consumers are already flocking online to make purchases - with 68% shopping online at least once per month - drone delivery and virtual reality may be the answer to some of the traditional barriers to online shopping.

Drones as a means for instant delivery

In a recent study by Acquity Group 84% of consumers said they thought one of the biggest benefits of shopping in a physical store is that in most cases they receive the product immediately. But Walker Sands’ study found that four in five consumers say drone delivery to their doorsteps within the hour would make them more likely to purchase from a retailer, indicating instant gratification could help bridge the gap.

Consumers willing to pay for shipping within the hour and are open to getting drone-delivery across categories

But consumers don’t expect faster shipping for free- the majority are willing to shell out extra cash for faster delivery:

Future of Retail 1

What types of products do consumers trust via drones? With few exceptions, consumers are on-board with deliveries coming from drones across categories, indicating much room for growth across industries once these technologies are rolled out in full.


Virtual breaks down barriers

Virtual reality may also help with barriers to online shopping. More than a third of consumers say virtual reality would make them more open to purchasing products online since they could get a feel for the product remotely.

Looking ahead

While it’s hard to say what the full impact of emerging technologies will be on retail one thing is for certain - they’re helping to rapidly drive innovation.

What technology innovation are you most looking forward to being integrated into your shopping experience?

To get the full results of the study, visit

Future of Retail 2015 cover page