🗣 The retail industry has been among the most eager adopters of cutting-edge tech, pioneering the transformation in warehousing, logistics, marketing, and customer service. Consumers, however, are getting more demanding.
In 2021, they are expecting immersive technologies to be a part of their shopping experiences. As much as 69% of customers today expect to use AR\VR as they shop, and retailers are doing their best to adjust and implement this immersive tech. Before the pandemic, the market for augmented reality in retail had reached $10 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46,6% until 2027.
How augmented reality works
🗣 Augmented Reality can be experienced across a wide range of hardware: handheld devices (smartphones and tablets), wearables, PCs and laptops, TVs, digital mirrors, connected devices such as glasses, head-mounted displays, lenses and even AR fitting rooms. The difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is that AR doesn’t replace the real world but “augments” it with additional virtual objects.
In the case of handheld devices, AR uses the device’s camera, computer vision technology, GPS, compass, and accelerometer to gather information about the surrounding real-world environment and then overlays additional contextual information (in 2D or 3D) on top of that environment image.
AR Benefits for Retailers
AR application in retail offers a lot of opportunities for businesses to increase customer satisfaction while reducing expenses. Here we prepared for you a list with some of them!
👉 Boosting sales
AR technology enables customers to try out products virtually before they buy them – that is, they can see exactly how the clothing will fit them or how new furniture will look in their home or office environment. Regardless of whether the customer shops online or offline, AR helps reduce the customer journey and increases store conversions.
👉 Minimizing returns
Because AR helps customers avoid disappointment and choose the products that suit them best, the return rates tend to plummet for both online and brick-and-mortar stores.
👉 Increasing customer engagement
The virtual experience that augmented reality in retail offers ignites customers’ interest in products while providing all the additional product details they might need. Informed customers tend to come back and shop for more products whenever they get the chance.
👉 Creating social media content
The AR experience gives customers something to talk about and share on social media, exactly the social media comments and discussions that ensue help increase product and brand awareness.
👉 Collecting data on customer preferences
The info about the products that customers choose to try through AR-enhanced shopping speaks volumes about their interests, preferences, and patterns of shopping behavior. Retailers may use these insights to deliver personalized advertising and marketing campaigns.
👉 Delivering a contactless experience
In a post-pandemic world, the applications of AR in retail serve to eliminate the contamination risks and concerns about hygiene.
👉 Reducing staffing expenses
AR app offers users exhaustive information about the items they are interested in. Moreover, augmented reality in retail helps them with store navigation, which reduces the need for human shop assistants to a necessary minimum.
👉 Building customer loyalty
A better customer experience accounts for higher customer loyalty and helps audiences build stronger relationships with brands.
AR Benefits for Retailers: 9 Use Cases
🗣 There are two fundamentally different approaches for implementing AR in the retail industry: in-store and out-of-store. The first would involve a consumer actually being in the store or just outside it and experiencing AR through handheld devices, wearables such as AR glasses, or special AR hardware including smart interactive mirrors, fitting rooms, shop windows, etc.
The Out-of-store approach involves experiencing AR from another physical location via e-commerce mobile or web apps. Of course, the best strategy would be to combine both in-store and out-of-store approaches, the so-called “omnichannel” strategy. Not all retailers, however, can afford to install in-store AR hardware, such as mirrors, and many rely solely on an online presence without the hassle of running a traditional “brick-and-mortar” store.
👉 Let’s now explore how both approaches work, by taking a closer look at the examples of augmented reality in retail.
- Space visualization and virtual tours
AR technology enables customers to walk through a store or a property before paying a physical visit to the location. The use of augmented reality enables them to get a feel of the place and learn about the essential details beforehand.
Apps like Magicplan, for example, offer customers an AR-enabled residential property design planner allowing them to see how their homes will look after all the renovations are complete. Shoppers can even take a virtual walk through their renewed residences and estimate the materials they need for the renovation project.
- Color matching
Augmented reality shopping apps are also widely used to match colors and create an optimal palette for a room or an outfit. For example, the Dulux Visualizer app allows customers to choose the new wall color for their home.
Another example is a Prestige ColorPic app which enables users to pick the ideal wall color and instantly order it from Amazon.
- Outfit visualization
Examples of augmented reality apps include the ones targeting the common pain of shopping for apparel – the inability to envision how the clothes in the store hangers will look in real life. The ASOS Virtual Catwalk app enables shoppers to see how the clothes will look on models with different body sizes and shapes and decides if they will fit.
- In-store displays
In order to enable augmented reality in retail stores, some brands are installing in-store displays offering shoppers a plethora of interactive experiences. Kate Spade’s stores, for example, use AR displays to help shoppers create unique customizable bags using decorations and accessories.
- AR fitting rooms
With augmented reality in retail, customers no longer need to try clothes on to see how they fit. They can use a virtual fitting room to choose the look that fits best. Timberland, for example, has installed displays where visitors can see a mirror-like view of themselves and try on different clothes.
Visitors don’t even have to enter the store to see how they will look in a particular outfit. Lily’s, a Chinese apparel brand, has put up an AR display on the window of a store located at the subway platform of Shanghai’s West Nanjing Road Station where passengers can try clothes on as they wait for trains.
- AR-enabled try-on
Virtual try-on are some of the most vivid examples of AR applications in retail. Using AR apps, customers can try products on without visiting the store. For example, the Warby Parker eyeglasses brand offers customers an AR app to see how their faces will look if they wear different frames.
The world-renowned sportswear giant Nike has also launched an augmented reality shopping app called Nike Fit. Using AR technology, the app helps users estimate their shoe size and saves it in the app, which can easily be retrieved as customers shop for shoes.
Due to the use of augmented reality, fashion and beauty industry players are also offering customers a different way to try on their products. Sephora’s mobile app has a Visual Artist feature, enabling users to try on the brand’s products using a combination of face recognition technology and AR. If users like their new look, they may order the products via an app interface.
- Large products shopping
The augmented reality retail apps are especially helpful in shopping for large products like furniture. Instead of trying to figure out how a piece of furniture will look in their living room, customers can see exactly how it will fit in using an AR app.
The Homestyler app helps customers create a complete design of their rooms using real-life parameters and dimensions. It’s also completely free and available for both iOS and Android. Decor Matters app also uses AR and artificial intelligence to visualize how different room designs will look in users’ actual living spaces.
- Brand engagement
Some brands are now using AR to boost customer engagement by offering them fun and interactive experiences. Starbucks, for example, has created holiday cups, which ‘come alive’ when customers view them through their smartphone screens.
- Building customer loyalty
In a bid to boost customers’ loyalty, Lego offers its fans a new in-store activity: customers can lift the boxes with Lego sets to an in-store display and see the complete animated set on a display screen.
Toys-R-Us has also introduced a fun AR game for the youngest customers: the Play Chaser App enables them to scan the signs located in each of the brand’s stores and access games and quests they can play alone, or with other players.
🗣 To sum it up, the facts are clear: this game-changing trend will revolutionize the retail industry and transform the way people shop. The AR locomotive is quickly gathering momentum, and those who won’t manage to hop aboard will be left behind!
👉 Has AR aroused your curiosity? Are you interested in adding AR functionality to your retail platform? Check out here and learn more about how we can help you achieve it!