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The world of retail shopping is constantly evolving to keep shoppers engaged as shopping habits adapt over the years. The pandemic may have brought new challenges to the retail sector, but retail is a resilient sector. The return of physical shopping for consumers, coupled with the advancement of new technologies means the in-store retail experience is set to be transformed again.
To help you understand a little bit more about augmented reality in retail, we have written this informative blog to highlight what the future of retail may look like.
Augmented reality (AR) in retail is one of the many evolving technologies now being utilised by brands. The competitive nature of the online shopping sphere has required retailers to adapt and introduce new experiences through technology advancements to capture the imagination and interest of consumers.
But what is actually meant by augmented reality? Well, AR basically describes the process of overlaying digitally-created content into a user’s real-world environment. The combination of digital manipulation and interactivity gives customers cutting-edge technological insight and the ability to envisage a real-life concept from the comfort of their own homes.
Using computer vision and object recognition, the overlay of virtual content can transform consumer perception and behaviours. The experience provided by AR is something large retailers must consider as an option for their consumers in order to stay competitive and on-trend.
This is evidenced by statistical analysis that highlights the desire consumers have for seeing AR in retail. According to data compiled by Threekit, 71% said they would shop more often if retailers were to implement AR technology.
So, we have outlined what AR is but what use does it provide? What are retailers doing to implement this technology into their retail experience?
Well, as online shopping and in-person shopping now coexist alongside each other, some retailers have moved quicker than others to provide exciting and innovative concepts to try and pull clear of their competitors. As a result, the realistic visualisation provided by augmented reality technology is transforming the retail shopping experience for customers.
As the shopping experience is generally divided between in-store and online experiences, the use of AR can be adopted through different mediums. The physical approach to AR tends to involve devices worn by the user to view the AR content. Whilst it may sound similar to virtual reality, the glasses used in AR do not fully immerse users into a simulated world.
This lighter touch is beneficial to retail, as shoppers can see both virtual and real-world objects, making better judgements and thorough comparisons dependent on the product being viewed. Aside from physical in-store experiences, AR pop-ups are an increasingly common approach adopted by bigger brands to raise their profile, as they act as a very effective marketing strategy.
In 2019, Burberry launched a digital pop-up experience in London using porcelain fawns and Google Lens for users to view a live aerial feed of themselves on their phone, captured by a camera suspended 35 metres above them.
As web apps and AR technology are readily available for smartphones and tablets, these technologies can be utilised both in-store and for online use. The in-store experience of augmented reality can elevate the customer experience, as demonstrations of AR technologies by trained staff in stores can give customers that invaluable personal experience that an online experience may not provide.
Equally, the online experience can be useful for the visualisation of larger items. Brands have started to use augmented reality for retail projects that help customers see their products within their home space.
A typical example of augmented reality for retailers could be projecting the image of a new kitchen into your home, to gauge the look and aesthetic of the product. Plus, it helps customers to see if the measurements fit correctly.
Dedicated apps have also been launched by some brands, such as The Place App by IKEA which allows shoppers to use augmented reality. Enabled by a smartphone camera, customers can place furniture items into their homes virtually, so they can visualise exactly how the item will look in their preferred setting.
Retailers can obtain lots of benefits by introducing augmented reality into their marketing strategy. Sales tend to increase as the customer journey is reduced due to the convenient element the technology provides. In turn, this contributes to fewer returns, as customers can gain greater product satisfaction through a virtual lens.
Augmented reality for retailers is a way to better understand the interests and preferences of their customer base. This valuable insight can be used advantageously, helping retailers develop targeted advertising and marketing campaigns.
In the online sphere, sharing content on social media is a great way to maximise customer engagement. Videos that showcase the AR technology in use will attract customers through digital channels. But this can work in the favour of retailers too, as customers are inclined to share and document their experiences of AR using social media channels.
These elements combined will define the customer experience and help to enhance it. Higher customer loyalty will help formulate a strong brand, with trustworthiness between retailers and customers at the heart of this.
Although the customer experience is the centralised aspect, the options opened up by having AR in retail are ultimately helping to transcend marketing strategies for brands with a fresh, modernised approach to the shopping experience. Integrating AR within your online retail experience can bring huge value.
If you are thinking about integrating augmented reality for retail, our team of professionals at CJ Retail Solutions can help ensure you the best execution. Contact us today to discuss all things AR and transform your retail experience.