The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by desire for convenience and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial Intelligence, digitisation, and augmented reality. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Virtual Reality in Retail: Virtual interactive stores. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 128,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the retail industry, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Virtual interactive stores are a key innovation area in virtual reality

A virtual store is an online digital place where customers can browse and explore products they want to buy. Virtual interactive stores allow shoppers to browse an online rendering of an actual store. These stores are fully integrated with the brand’s e-commerce website. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of virtual interactive stores.

Key players in virtual interactive stores – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to virtual interactive stores

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Metail 61 Unlock Company Profile
Levi Strauss & Co 45 Unlock Company Profile
Magic Leap 45 Unlock Company Profile
eBay 35 Unlock Company Profile
SureFire 28 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 25 Unlock Company Profile
EcoSense Lighting 25 Unlock Company Profile 20 Unlock Company Profile 16 Unlock Company Profile
adidas 14 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 13 Unlock Company Profile 12 Unlock Company Profile
Houzz 11 Unlock Company Profile
MISUMI Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 9 Unlock Company Profile
Crisalix 9 Unlock Company Profile
Jins Holdings 8 Unlock Company Profile
L'Oreal 7 Unlock Company Profile
Capital One Financial 7 Unlock Company Profile
Marxent Labs 7 Unlock Company Profile
Seiren 7 Unlock Company Profile
Leap Tools 5 Unlock Company Profile
PayPal Holdings 5 Unlock Company Profile
Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault 5 Unlock Company Profile
swatchbook 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading patent filers in the virtual interactive stores space include Metail, Levi Strauss, Magic Leap, and eBay. NARS Cosmetics launched virtual store in the UK in April 2021. NARS’ virtual store is a centralised location for consumer engagement. Shoppers can purchase directly from the virtual store and experience virtual try-on technology. 

SureFire, Magic Leap, Levi Strauss, EcoSense Lighting, and MISUMI Group are the leading companies, in terms of application diversity.

In terms of geographic reach, the top players are MISUMI Group, Carl Zeiss Stiftung, Dassault Group, Samsung Group, and Omash. 

Retail brands are rethinking their online presence beyond the purely functional. Virtual stores blend fantastical details with familiar elements and offer turn-on music to create a pleasant interactive experience for customers.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Virtual & Augmented Reality in Retail.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.