- Augmented Reality
- Mixed Reality
- Virtual Reality
- Augmented Reality
- Virtual Reality
The global Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have stimulated the retail industry to make a shift toward online shopping. To remain competitive and drive traffic to the stores, retailers need to switch to the omnichannel business model with multiple touchpoints for consumers and improve their engagement. Yet, offering good old online shopping or BOPIS (buy online and pick up in-store) options may not be enough. For example, augmented reality in clothing industry or furniture market has the potential to take retail to new heights.
A 2019 Neilsen global survey states that consumers are seeking augmented and virtual reality as the top technologies to assist them in their daily routine. And more than half of the respondents (51%) indicated they want to use AR/VR to assess products. This desire of consumers leads to a new era in retail – the era of active AR technology usage, both outdoors and indoors.
How to implement AR, and what benefits can it offer to retailers? Let’s answer these questions, moving from the technical aspects of AR to the use cases and benefits it brings.
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Only a while ago, augmented and virtual reality was only seen from an entertaining perspective, but today, this tech made inroads in many business spheres. The retail sector is not an exception, which is proved by the statistics: AR and VR solutions integrated into the marketing strategies of brands can reduce product returns by up to 35%.
No surprise: today, we live in a highly gamified environment, and the consumers expect to see virtual components like digital images, visuals, or even sensations as a new layer of interaction.
Almost 90% of customers in the US expect more digital initiatives from companies due to the pandemic. This involves immersive experiences.
Before the global pandemic, industry research estimated that worldwide spending on AR/VR in retail would reach $18.8bn. Then 2020 came, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transformation. Now analysts predict worldwide spending for these technologies to grow up to $72.8bn in 2024.
With the advent of the smart shopping concept, which takes customer experience and satisfaction as the most important aspect, the need for AR integration has even grown. No wonder, since it has all prerequisites to make shopping engaging, personalized, and comfortable.
Here are a few AR examples that can transform your retail brand engagement.
Augmented reality in retail stores can be a good helper in improving navigation, especially when there is a huge space with many inventory items involved. Utilizing the AR-markers method allows locating users within a few inches of accuracy. As the name says, the method involves visual AR markers (wall posters or floor decals) which are usually seamlessly integrated into a store or mall interior. Customers only need to scan a poster at the entrance or elsewhere at the store to start a navigation session and choose the product or place they want to find. Once set, you’ll need to use your device camera and see directional prompts that will guide you to the chosen place, aisle, or even a product.
Statistics show that nearly 60% of shoppers check product information and prices while using their mobile phones in stores. To ease their decision-making process, you can offer an augmented reality app where shoppers would simply point their camera at the particular product and see all the required information overlayed on their device display. This feature can also be used to grow customers’ loyalty by offering additional rebates, coupons, or retail gamification features (gather stars and exchange them for discounts or some branding goods, etc).
Before the pandemic times, about 30% of what has been bought online was returned. And today, for known reasons, a lot of buyers fancy online shopping to avoid crowded stores and malls. The growth of online purchases might be the reason for even the bigger number of returns for the items that might not fit or look as expected.
Utilizing AR technology can help retailers to increase engagement with product pages and subsequent online sales. Great examples here are Sephora Virtual Makeup Try-on. Released back in 2016, it allowed users to try on different shades of eye shadow and lipstick using their device’s front-facing camera. The same technology can be also applied to clothes.
For example, virtual fitting rooms or AR mirrors in stores can give shoppers a chance to try on clothes without actually doing it physically. All they need to do is to come to an AR-embedded mirror, which will scan the shopper’s posture and overlay their mirror reflection with a digital representation of their body in a certain outfit. Augmented reality in clothing industry has already been successfully used by Timberland, Converse, and Shiseido brands.
Buying new furniture can become a headache since you need to think of so many details like size, color, style, and imagine how the new piece will fit into the interior. IKEA pioneered in this sector by introducing their AR retail app. It allowed users to scan a selected furniture item from a printed catalog and virtually place true-to-scale 3D models anywhere they want. The app automatically scales products, based on room dimensions, with 98 percent accuracy.
What if AR could not only help to buy physical goods but virtual objects, such as jewelry or art objects which do not have a physical counterpart? Retailers like Louis Vuitton have already opened the era of virtual merchandising by offering digital skins and other digital assets in the esports game League of Legends. One more luxury brand Gucci does not stay behind and offers high-end digital accessories and clothing to dress game avatars in an app called Genies Inc. Given that, this trend may soon become a new normal part of our daily lives.
To keep up with these trends and maintain customer engagement and satisfaction rates high, retailers need to take the challenge and embrace AR technology.
As of 2018, 77% of people in the USA interacted with AR via their smartphones, while only 19% used stand-alone devices.
Thankfully, market demands forced tech giants to develop their own AR developer platforms. ARKit by Apple and ARCore by Google are some of the most popular ones. Integrated into smartphones, they help users simplify the AR experience implementation and expand its usage in the retail sector exponentially.
Apple’s latest iteration of its AR platform, ARKit 5, offers an advanced tracking and detection feature. It combines device motion tracking, camera scene capture, advanced scene processing and display conveniences to simplify the task of building an AR experience. It’s possible to create multiple AR experiences with these technologies using the front or rear camera of an iOS device.
This SDK supports a bundle of the main features to blend AR experiences into physical reality: motion tracking, light estimation and environmental understanding. On top of that, it has a number of advanced features:
Embedding augmented reality technology can bring advantages not only for consumers offering engaging experiences, but also for retailers by reducing operating costs, and the number of returns. The global market for VR and AR in retail is expected to reach $1.6bn by 2025. Quite promising numbers, right? All of these make the implementation of AR a juicy contract to grow and increase financial prospects.
Here are major benefits augmented reality can offer to retailers:
Nowadays customers would rather choose fashion augmented reality company for shopping. Such companies enhance the way buyers interact with a brand. It can help your brand to stand out from the crowd, attract users, and increase brand awareness. Options to virtually try the product, personalized recommendations, retail gamification elements, new ways to explore the product – these are just a few ways of how the AR application can help you grow customer engagement.
Augmented reality can offer more engaging marketing and advertising methods compared to traditional ones. Virtual advertisements, especially personalized ones, can evoke user interest and so, have more chances that the ad will be opened and checked. For example, using consumers’ preferences to adapt marketing campaigns and product suggestions accordingly.
Happy customers always return. Introducing AR experience allows companies to significantly increase online conversion rates and, at the same time, reduce the shipping costs and return rates. Providing additional product information and personal customization options help to ensure customers will like the item they buy.
Providing immense possibilities, augmented reality starts a new era in the retail industry and changes the way brands interact with consumers. Acknowledging the benefits AR can offer to both consumers and retailers, the use of this technology will only grow.
To make it work right and be happy with results, you need to understand the value you’ll bring to your customers and the business goals you want to achieve. There is one more important aspect – the performance of your AR solution. It should be well-shaped and work flawlessly to satisfy users and grow their willingness to buy. Postindustria offers a full range of AR development services that help brands to gain a competitive advantage. Just leave us your contact information by filling in the contact form above and we’ll be in touch to discuss your custom solution.
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