Amazon is in search of a creative director to lead its virtual reality initiatives, a sign that it may be chasing commerce through that emerging medium, according to a report from Variety. A request to Amazon for comment from Retail Dive was not immediately returned.
Another indicator that the position may be serving the company’s e-commerce division and not just its entertainment unit: The ad comes from the Amazon A9 team in charge of search and advertising for the retailer's website, according to the notice posted on LinkedIn.
“As Creative Director, VR at A9, you will envision the future of Amazon’s VR solutions and guide our creative and technical teams to produce compelling, world-class experiences,” the ad reads in part. “You will partner with the engineering and studio teams to create the story, design and art for these experiences. This role is for the experienced designer, technologist and creative visionary who is ready to lead the innovation in the new medium of VR.”
Virtual reality is one of the frontiers being trod by innovators in several industries, including retail, and the technology is being driven in part by the swiftly rising tide of mobile commerce.
VR holds promise for marketers as well as for retailers hoping to demonstrate their wares in newly profound ways, both online and in stores. While it’s easy to “touch and feel” furniture (unlike clothes, cars or most other products, for example), it’s difficult to try out furniture in a room, and a pain to return if it doesn't work out. It’s an area that fails even brick-and-mortar retail time and again because shoppers are easily discouraged. And it’s the reason that furniture retailer Restoration Hardware has invested so much in appealing to the imagination through its extensive and elaborate showrooms.
It's also why Amazon itself released its Amazon Product Preview app, where shoppers can view how an item might look in their home. A few years ago Amazon also released image recognition capabilities through Flow, which recognizes one item or several items at once and adds them all to a customer's Amazon shopping cart.
VR also has the ability to enhance an aspect of shopping that has largely been lost in e-commerce: The emotional side, a particular weakness at Amazon, which so far has presenting its goods in mostly work-a-day fashion, ceding a psychological advantage to brick and mortar stores.
“The online store needs to provide us with the same kind of experience, to create these feelings we have in physical stores,” Liraz Margalit of digital “customer experience” solutions startup Clicktale previously told Retail Dive. “When you go to buy something, it’s not always a rational decision. It’s an emotional one. But sitting at our screens is a more ‘rational’ environment than being in a store.”