In the past, augmented reality (AR) has been seen as a “cool” technology that makes social media and online games a little more fun. This has since changed as AR continues to make inroads into most of our day-to-day operations. In the retail industry, for example, this technology is transforming customer experience and revolutionizing how marketing is done. In a nutshell, it is shaking up the world of business in the same manner virtual reality did a few years back.
Augmented reality enables people to view items in a 360-degree, 3D experience as opposed to the traditional 2D view. It overlays virtual objects from their virtual environment and brings them to reality. It is, to a great extent, the inverse of virtual reality.
Despite being touted by many pundits as soon to be extinct, brick-and-mortar retail shops now have a promising future thanks to AR. The technology has helped physical stores to enhance their in-store environment by enabling customers to transfer the experience they have when shopping in a store to their homes.
This post focuses on the 5 main ways in which Augmented Reality is transforming the retail sector.
- Shoppers are able to see how a brand’s products will look like in their homes.
You will agree that most in-store experiences will hardly give you the right idea of how items will fit and look once installed in your home. AR is changing this by helping you, for example, visualize your living room with the furniture you intend to buy. A good example of this experience is Home Depot’s Project Color app that was launched in 2015. The app allows users to get an idea of how a particular paint will look if painted on the user’s home walls.
- AR is making marketing easier
Most clients find it fun to engage with a product before making purchases. And as marketing experts will tell you, increased brand engagement leads to increased sales. AR, through smartphone apps, is enabling people to scan through online product inventories and instantly get specifications for different products. These specifications include prices, reviews, and installation videos. All these new brand promotion possibilities have made marketing easier.
On the other hand, customers are able to learn about favorable online deals, such as suits or elegant clothes, and to ask for discounts when doing online shopping, all thanks to AR. The in-depth information they get about different products helps them to understand the pros and cons of a product even before buying it, so they are better positioned to bargain for the best possible deals.
- Improved customer service
Customers are now able to get fast and real-time product installation and problem troubleshooting guides. That is all thanks to augmented reality. If your TV is malfunctioning, you can receive guidance from the manufacturer on how to fix it through a smartphone app. If you wish to know what model your washing machine is, say when buying spare parts, you will easily get detailed information thanks to AR.
Speaking of customer experience, you will greatly benefit from the customer reviews that AR has made available for many brands. You actually don’t have to over-rely on customer service for information because there are many user platforms that discuss different products and offer workable solutions to each other. American Apparel, for example, created an AR app that allows its customers to interact and brainstorm.
In the fashion industry, designers are now using augmented reality to conduct fashion shows. This has made their shows more accessible to all interested parties. While at it, a designer is able to organize events fast and affordably, including hiring an event production agency.
- Has brought about virtual fitting rooms
Virtual fitting rooms are important when it comes to helping buyers to try on fashion items before making purchases. Some stores still use the traditional fitting rooms, but you will agree that these can be really inconveniencing especially during peak shopping seasons. Sometimes the fitting room queue is so long that you are forced to go home, try an item on, and then in case it doesn’t suit your needs, you ride back to the store to return it. All this hassle isn’t worth it now since the introduction of AR’s virtual fitting rooms. These rooms use kinetic motion-sensing technology to scan a customer’s body and predict how clothing items would fit on that particular body, eliminating the need for physical fitting.
- Reduced returns
Increased customer satisfaction translates to reduced returns. Customers are now able to visualize a virtual representation of products in 3D, so they only purchase the right product sizes and colors for their intended environment. AR allows shoppers to make the best shopping judgments.
5 Ways Augmented Reality (AR) Is Transforming Retail