With technological innovations continuing to revolutionize various industries and facilitating consumer experiences, there’s been a growing demand for augmented reality in retail. Consumers are seeking a more convenient and personalized shopping experience, both at retail stores and on their mobile devices, and AR technology can provide it.
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Retail companies have a responsibility to keep up with the ever-growing demand for better, faster, and more convenient shopping experiences as well as the new technologies that can make these experiences a reality. If customers can’t find what they’re looking for easily, whether in-store or on a mobile app, they are likely to walk out of a store without making a purchase or abandon their online shopping carts. AR technology is helping to transform the way retailers can market their products, improving their outreach and ultimately increasing customer satisfaction.
In this post, we take a look at some examples of current augmented reality strategies that retailers are already taking advantage of, how AR is transforming the way customers shop, and what the future holds for augmented reality in retail so you can make your store stand out from those of competitors.
In-Store Augmented Reality Experiences
When shopping for products inside a store, customers want to find what they are looking for and make a purchase as quickly and conveniently as possible. The idea of waiting in long lines or having to deal with inventory shortages is not a pleasant one. Augmented reality is changing that. One of the best examples of augmented reality in retail stores is the smart mirror. Let’s take a closer look at what a smart mirror is and the benefits it offers both retailers and customers.
For many shoppers, finding the perfect clothing item can be just as hard as finding a needle in a haystack. Some shoppers have a pretty good idea of what they are looking for while others turn to store representatives for guidance. The entire process can be overwhelming, especially for shoppers who aren’t exactly sure what they are looking for. To make matters worse, sizing differences between brands can leave shoppers stranded in dressing rooms waiting on store clerks to provide the item in a different size or have no other choice but to get redressed and venture out in search of other sizes themselves.
But what if the other sizes aren’t available? What if there aren’t any store clerks available to help? Meet smart mirrors.
Smart mirrors facilitate the shopping experience for customers, allowing them to virtually try on different styles of clothing and in different sizes without actually trying on those items physically. Through the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning powered technologies, smart mirrors can create simulations of how a given item may look on the user, helping attain a high level of customization.
The same works for accessories like glasses, belts, purses, hats, and even jewelry. Not only does the customer save time and the hassle of long lines and product shortages, but retailers themselves are also able to provide an online or in-app type of experience to customers who may not shop on their mobiles or desktops.
Many larger chains are already featuring smart mirrors in their stores, including Ralph Lauren and H&M. However, smart mirrors are also an excellent way for small brick-and-mortar retailers to increase their sales and provide a virtually unlimited inventory to prospective customers.
Augmented Reality Retail Apps
Augmented reality in retail isn’t just limited to in-store shopping. An AR app is an excellent way for retailers to provide an enhanced shopping experience to customers from the convenience of their smartphones. Many retail stores are already incorporating augmented reality in their applications, especially furniture retailers. Below we’ll explore one of the most popular AR app features: 3D furnishing experiences.
3D Furnishing Experiences
When it comes to furniture shopping, AR technology can be a lifesaver for consumers. Retailers who sell furniture can take advantage of room simulator technology which allows prospective buyers to see exactly how a piece of furniture will look in their home. Consumers can input specific room dimensions for accuracy and experiment with different items, positioning, as well as color schemes. By providing customers with a way to visualize exactly how an item will look in their home, they are much more likely to follow through with a purchase,
Several retail companies are already taking advantage of this type of AR-powered mobile technology, including Swedish furniture giant, Ikea. The Ikea Place app makes it possible for customers to view true-to-scale 3D models of different products in their homes.
After taking a picture of the room, app users can try out different furniture pieces, change item colors, and pair products with complementary accessories to gain a realistic outlook of what they can expect. Once they decide on the items they want, they can make the purchase straight from the app.
Deciding on Your AR Content
There are several different types of augmented reality experiences you can provide your customers. In order to determine the AR content that’s best for your company, it’s important to take several factors into account. The first factor is your brand, including the types of products and services you offer. The second is your target audience and the types of AR features they would find useful and be most likely to interact with.
Younger audiences are more likely to use smart devices when shopping, so incorporating AR into an eCommerce website or app would make the most sense for these kinds of consumers. Meanwhile, more mature shoppers are likely to prefer AR in-stores, as they may have some difficulty navigating complex smartphone technology.
Still, it can be difficult to pinpoint the best AR solution for your specific store. Speaking with an experienced app development company is the best way to explore the different types of options available to you and how to best incorporate augmented reality in your business model.
The Future of Augmented Reality in Retail
3D simulations and smart mirrors are just some of the many ways that AR is transforming the retail industry. With every new advancement in augmented reality technology, we’ll begin to see even more revolutionary and immersive tools pop up in retail apps and in stores. The more ways in which retailers can provide unique shopping experiences to their target audiences, the more they’ll be able to increase their customer base and retain customer loyalty.