Shopping is partly “need” partly “fun” (and for some, partly” compulsive”). If it is a response to a need any technology that can help in taking a decision would surely help the customer. If it is for fun any technology that can increase the emotional feeling will be a hit.
Augmented and Virtual Reality have the potential to be a crucial and distintive factor in both cases: they can supplement information in a clear way to help understanding a product (including understanding it in the context it would be used) and take a decision; they can provide an emotional involvement increasing the fun (even to addiction point!).
Where are we in terms of actual adoption and of expected adoption? A just published report (focussing on the US market only but of general interest) by Insider Intelligence shows that AR and VR have still a very marginal role in the shopping experience and most of the time they are focussing on providing additional information rather than expanding the emotional feeling.
This might be a reason why there is a higher percentage of usage by the male population (my -very personal- interpretation). There is also a marked different in adoption, and in the intention to adopt, in different age ranges with the youngster much more interested in these technologies.
I have tried a number of shopping apps that exploit AR, like the Ikea one (possibly one of the first to experiment with AR) but none have really made a difference. We are still at the first stages of practical use.
This is bound to change, I expect, in the second part of this decade. Whether we are going to have seamless mass market AR/VR devices is still a big question mark, however the progress in image recognition and image rendering through artificial intelligence will be able to deliver a much more seamless and engaging experience. At that point even the ones that have downplayed their interest in AR/VR in their shopping experience (around 50% in the Insider Intelligence poll) will, most likely, change their mind.
It is a chicken and egg issue: the more AR/VR will be delivering an added value to the shopping experience, more and more people will be using it, That will prompt sellers to offer more, and better, AR/VR experience thus further increasing the interest of consumer. I expect to see the inflection point (defined as the time when we will no longer be talking about AR and VR in shopping since it will be a “normal” experience) by the end of this decade.