• AR
  • Augmented Reality
  • Fashion
  • iOS
  • Jewelry
  • Retail

How Retail Brands Use Augmented Reality to Drive Sales and Engagement

Michael Girnyak
23 Dec 2020
5 min 46 sec
How Retail Brands Use Augmented Reality to Drive Sales and Engagement

Augmented Reality (AR) had successfully captured our attention through various engaging applications in the past. Remember Pokémon Go? Its unique use of augmented reality made it one of a kind app and a popular past-time for its audience. 

But the utility of augmented reality doesn’t end with games. In fact, some of its critical use cases are concentrated in the retail industry. 

AR relevance has become even more prominent in 2020, when stores are running with no, or very few, customers. Businesses start using augmented reality applications to shape their customers’ buying patterns. Data shows that retailers enjoyed a 19% spike in customer engagement and a staggering 90% conversion rate for those who engaged with their augmented reality application over those who did not. 

Let’s look at how different brands skillfully use augmented reality to attract customers and boost their sales.

The ‘try before you buy’ model

The amalgamation of augmented reality within the retail industry mostly revolves around the ‘try before you buy’ model.

Historically, retail stores have always offered an opportunity for customers to try on their products before purchasing. This helped customers understand how it looked on them and was the main driving factor for completing a purchase. This was also the reason why many still preferred visiting a physical store over buying online. 

Previously, online platforms could not offer this luxury to their customers, but today, thanks to augmented reality, people can try out clothes, shoes, makeup, to name but a few, from the comfort of their homes. 

Furniture visualization 

Questions like “Will this furniture fit in my designated space” or “Will the color of the furniture match the color of my wall” often crops up in buyers’ minds at a store. Retailers went all out in fixing this issue by showcasing their furniture in assiduously designed living rooms, bedrooms, study rooms, etc. But the issue persisted. These pre-created rooms had limited colors and shapes and could never replicate an actual room.

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    Retailers like IKEA, and design tools like Amikasa, dealt with this by crafting augmented reality experiences that helped their customers visualize furniture placed anywhere in their homes. Blending AR with their business also bolstered the sales for several furniture retailers. For instance, CB2 found that product pages with AR experiences had 21% higher revenue per visit and 13% higher average order size. 

    Virtual makeup try-on

    Makeup products have always had a massive market. The abundance of retail chains specializing in this segment is proof enough of this. Trying out different products and colors is often overwhelming. First, you spend a lot of time testing the products, inviting unwanted stares from the salesperson as it prevents them from servicing other potential buyers. And even then, you still can’t open a sealed makeup container or apply lipstick on your lips instead of your hand (which has a different shade).

    Brands like Maybelline, Benefit Cosmetics, and Sephora have solved this problem by rolling out AR applications that can be used to try on different products at your own pace. This helps to narrow down the number of products you want to test physically, saving a lot of time for you and the salesperson. 

    This had a significant impact on some businesses. For example, L’Oreal’s e-commerce sales skyrocketed by 49% in 2019, which was largely driven by consumers who had a chance to try the makeup using AR before buying it.

    Virtual vehicle demo

    Car buyers truly understand the frustration of choosing the right model to fit their needs. 9 out of 10 times you will not find the exact model and color that you are looking for in the showroom. The limited size of a showroom allows showcasing only a select few cars. The remaining models can be viewed only in the form of tiny pictures in a catalog.

    Imagine you could virtually explore your required model and color before you purchase. Brands like Toyota, BMW, and Audi have achieved this through their dedicated AR-driven apps. With an app like this, people can

    • Select a car model and color 
    • Check out exteriors from different angles
    • Zoom in on any part of the car
    • Change the background of the car to different environments to see how it looks outside the showroom
    • Look into every nook and cranny of the interior

    Virtual fitting room

    A fitting room is arguably one of the most visited sections in any clothing showroom. A survey points out that women spend nearly 400 hours shopping for clothes every year, and a major chunk of this time is spent in fitting rooms. To reduce the hours spent, a few businesses have implemented virtual fitting rooms in their store. Visitors can try out various designs and colors just by swiping across each SKU in front of an interactive mirror. 

    Brands like Ralph Lauren, Uniqlo, and Zara have successfully set up such virtual fitting rooms, aka “magic mirrors”, in some of their stores. A few of these applications even let you share the images through social media to get instant feedback from your friends. The popularity of virtual fitting rooms is supported by a report stating that the global fitting room market size is estimated to reach $10 billion by 2027.

    Virtual footwear try-on 

    We are bombarded by a limitless range of footwear catering to different events and activities. In fact, the global footwear industry was valued at $365.5 billion in 2020, and a sizable part of it was attributed to e-commerce sales. 

    Still, many people are hesitant to buy footwear online since they can’t choose the perfect size and color. Yes, some brands are very detailed about their size charts, but this doesn’t help visualize how the footwear will look on.

    Brands like Adidas and Lacoste recognized this problem and addressed it with their AR applications. Consumers could use their phone cameras to focus on their feet and try on various shoes, ordering the ones they liked. 

    The year 2020 has shown us that digital transformation is the way to survive for many businesses, and retail is on the top of the list. Immersive user experience, exciting apps, and seamless functioning are what wins the competition these days. And AR is one of the tools to ensure this. 

    Wrapping Up

    In the modern world, incorporating digital innovation like augmented reality into your business is more of a necessity than a luxury. Businesses know that without differentiation, it’s almost impossible to achieve steady growth and recognition in the market. So, no matter how big or small your brand is, you can implement AR-based apps in your store to drive your sales. 

    Just remember that adopting the right AR solution, the one that precisely matches your business needs and delivers desired results, is not a simple task. This is where seeking the assistance of an experienced AR partner like Postindustria can help. 

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