• AR
  • Augmented Reality
  • Retail
  • Virtual Reality

AR for Retail Market in 2021 — A Trend That Is Here to Stay

Konstantin Mirin
2 Aug 2021
9 min
AR for Retail Market in 2021 — A Trend That Is Here to Stay

If you are looking for the best showcase for the power of augmented reality (AR), look no further than Pokemon GO. The ability to catch em’ all via a smartphone has transformed the way people engage with games, making it one of the highest-grossing mobile games ever. News flash: now businesses can achieve a similar effect with AR for retail.

Pokemon GO remains among the top 5 most profitable gaming apps even during the pandemic. Think about it: AR continues to drive people out into the streets tracking and training Pokemon characters. And with the right approach, AR in retail can drive your sales through the roof. 

Don’t believe us? Let the numbers do the talking.

The current state of AR & VR in the retail industry

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Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are two sides of the same coin. And as some companies have already realized, this coin is of sizable worth. A number of businesses experimented with these technologies long before COVID-19. This put them out in front of those playing “catch-up” today.

Before the global pandemic, industry research projected worldwide spending on AR/VR in retail to reach $18.8 billion. Then 2020 came, and the pandemic accelerated the transformation. The same researchers now predict worldwide spending for these technologies to grow up to $72.8 billion in 2024.

The technology isn’t standing still, and fortunately, most smartphones and tablets released after 2015 can support augmented reality apps for interior design and furniture. The research shows that there will be about 5.5 billion augmented apps downloaded in 2022. In a few years, there won’t be many devices incompatible with AR retail apps.

To sum up, AR in the retail industry is gaining momentum fast. Should you bother?

AR and VR retail trends in 2021

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Augmented and virtual reality are steadily transforming the retail market. What is AR in business, and why should you adopt this technology? 

Let’s see what trends are already shaping customer experience in retail.

AR navigation

VR and AR can help consumers find exactly what they’re looking for. Even without the newest smartphone, you can navigate your way through cities, shopping malls, airports, and train stations. Google Maps for mobile devices is a perfect example of a mainstream AR navigation app for indoor and outdoor locations.Lowe’s was one of the first companies to add indoor AR navigation for its stores. The app also shows the product information when you point the camera at an item. By adding this feature into your software, you can improve the consumer experience and positively impact the customer’s desire to buy from you.

“Try before you buy” solutions

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Retail companies have implemented VR and AR into online shops so potential customers can try products without leaving home. The most popular examples include furniture shopping apps and augmented reality apps for shopping & clothes.

IKEA has the market’s best home furniture placement app that allows users to pass the time experimenting with how household goods and furniture will look in their homes. This definitely increases the chances of converting browsing into sales when they see how good a bed or a desk looks in their room.And here’s a great example of AR in fashion retail. Imagine searching for a new pair of glasses. Simply looking at other models won’t give you an idea if any of the glasses look good on you. However, the Warby Parker mobile app makes it possible to try on frames using your smartphone camera.

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    Several businesses use AR in retail stores to allow people to try items on the spot without extra hassle. Don’t have the time to change your clothes? Your reflection in an AR-powered mirror can offer the overlay of a new pair of pants on your body without you having to physically put them on. 

    Similarly, you can place AR mirrors in the shop windows to lure new customers. A passer-by will notice his or her reflection, all dressed up in an expensive outfit, and then be tempted to come into your store to see what you have to offer.

    Architectural and construction industries

    According to the 2020 MDPI Adoption of Virtual and Augmented Reality Analysis, engineering, architectural, and construction professionals are increasingly adopting AR and VR. Experts point out that these technologies can be incredibly effective for architectural render modeling, project validation, clash detection, and other pre-construction activities. 

    Architects can use mixed reality devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 to measure the physical elements and dimensions of a structure. And then, there’s Morpholiop, an all-in-one smartphone AR app that helps architects and designers draw on top of 3D models.

    Alternatively, these solutions can be used to deliver interactive virtual reality property tours and 360-degrees viewing experiences. The analysis we’ve mentioned above states that 90% of the industry professionals agree that AR and VR can significantly improve customer satisfaction.

    Home decor and interior design

    Interior design can be difficult and time-consuming, but augmented reality technology in retail makes it easier and less expensive. The MagicPlan app can help you measure and sketch 2D and 3D blueprints using your smartphone’s camera. Additionally, you can use augmented reality for home decoration. For example, the TapPainter app by MDi Touch helps customers experiment with different color codes for their walls with a few swipes on a smartphone screen. A few more clicks, and you can send the paint to your shopping cart, saving you time and making life easier.

    Showrooms

    A virtual showroom is a great example of augmented reality in ecommerce. Companies don’t have to invest in physical branches. A smartphone or even a small empty room with a VR headset is enough to showcase cars, trucks, or heavy machinery to potential clients. This solution is popular in the automotive industry. Companies like Audi are launching it in their dealerships to give their sales teams and customers a true-to-life virtual experience of sitting in a car or observing its technical components.

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      Remote assistance

      Do you have urgent issues with your product that need resolving? Even repair services can be accessible remotely via smartphones and AR-powered apps.

      For example, the technician can examine a faulty device via your smartphone camera. During the video call, the expert will guide you by marking points of interest in 3D space, which can help him detect the exact problem or even fix it with your hands.As you can see, companies that invested in augmented and virtual reality before it became mainstream now provide an industry-leading AR retail experience. But will these solutions help your business?

      How AR and VR in retail improves customer experience and drives sales

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      Companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook are some of the biggest proponents of virtual and augmented reality, and it’s easy to see why. The mass adoption of VR and AR in the retail market has multiple advantages for customers. And the happier they are—the greater the possibilities for you.

      Now, let’s go through the benefits of AR in the retail industry:

      • Convenience. Online shopping is convenient, as opposed to returning furniture if it doesn’t fit. Thankfully, you can experiment with free furniture placement apps. Increasingly innovative AR and VR software means that customers can become more intimate with the products by playing around with color palettes, lighting, and other settings.
      • Engagement. Our minds are engaged on a whole new level with augmented and virtual reality. You can pick any object, choose colors, shape, size, and move it around the house. This level of interactivity adds an element of gaming to the shopping experience, making it more entertaining.
      • Fewer returns. VR and AR solutions can remove guesswork from the shopping process, effectively reducing product returns by up to 35 percent. With the right approach, augmented reality apps for interior design will help customers make informed buying decisions, increasing the likelihood they’ll keep the new product.
      • Novelty factor. Less than a decade ago, the regular use of VR and AR seemed like an idea straight from the future. The future has arrived, but the novelty still hasn’t worn off. Your customers will welcome the chance to try new technology, especially if it helps make their buying experience easier and more efficient.
      • Sales growth. An improved customer experience leads to more profits and customer retention. According to Shopify’s 2020 Report, implementing AR solutions can lead to a 200% boost in conversions for online shops. 
      • Accessibility of technology. The development of AR is not exclusive to big companies with large budgets. Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit have democratized the creation of augmented reality apps, and all kinds of companies are quickly catching on.

      AR and VR have the power to convert curious browsers into buyers. If you join the movement and integrate the technology, retail and ecommerce augmented reality apps can help you create a whole new brand experience. But take your time to understand the options available and remember there are still some common obstacles associated with their development.

      Challenges of AR & VR retail app development

      Introducing VR and AR in the retail market can be complicated at times. If you want to digitize your catalog, there are a few pitfalls to avoid. 

      Customers don’t like objects that have an overly cartoonish look. And if we’re talking about furniture, items must be as accurate as possible. Otherwise, that new bed may not fit into the room, forcing buyers to return the product.

      App fatigue is another crucial aspect to consider. An average user has about 60 applications on their phone, half of which send constant notifications and emails. Most users will often think twice before installing a new one. That’s why you should also integrate VR or AR functionality into your web platform instead of merely developing an app to help with furniture placement.

      On the bright side, adding AR in retail in 2021 is much easier and faster than previously… If you have the right partner by your side. Postindustria has developed several AR-driven solutions for jewelry and decor retail companies. We can enhance your business with augmented and virtual reality tools to help you put products in customers’ homes.

      Wrapping Up

      VR and AR for retail are far more than gimmicks. These technologies can transform the customer journey, changing the way people experience shopping and boosting your bottom line. We believe that virtual and augmented reality will soon become the new normal for the retail industry. Do you want to get a competitive edge in the market? Be proactive and take a step towards the future! Share your thoughts about AR apps in the comment section. Also, make sure to check out our posts about augmented reality in jewelry and furniture retail.

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