Augmented reality – the term is no more confided to geeks and nerds. Almost everyone has heard about augmented reality apps and technology, especially after the launching of Google Glass. But AR technology is not just about Glass or mobile apps to augment your gaming experience. It has more to offer. In fact, augmented reality is becoming an effective marketing tool and has the potential to change the future of retail industry. But before we move into the details of how this technology can redefine the retail market, let us discuss what the term means.
Augmented reality is the latest computer-driven technology that overlays the virtual world on top of real world environment with the help of a mobile device such as smartphones or tablets. The AR market is small and developing; however, the technology has been used by brands in various interesting ways. The Harry Potter Wonderbook from Sony brought magic to life using this technology. Even Iron Man 2 implemented augmented reality to allow movie buffs to don the Iron Man gear. AR technology also brings print media into life; for example, IKEA implemented this technology to allow its customers to interact with the company’s paper catalogues.
Going back to our topic, augmented reality anticipates immense possibilities for retail market. In fact, it has the potential to reshape the future market as we can see how the technology is increasingly engaging both the consumers and the marketers alike. We have already seen that it has the ability to change the shopping behavior of the consumers by allowing them to try on clothes, jewelries, shoes and other items at home even without shipping. Customers can now wear garments virtually, smell and feel the fabric, making the whole experience as real as it could be. Considering the potentials of this technology, a number of brands have invested in augmented reality apps and tools to plunge into the world of virtual retailing. For some brands, this concept helped them to reach their customers in a better way, but for others it redefined the way people shop.
A number of brands are using this technology for interacting with their customers for better engagement as well as to build brand loyalty. Esquire Magazine used the technology to promote their February issue. They targeted individuals at 700 national locations of Barnes & Noble. The augmented reality app was developed by GoldRun, using which people could see Brooklyn Decker, the virtual magazine cover girl, posing in the aisles of Esquire Magazine. Customers could even take pictures with her and post the same on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The Fast Company explained the experience in the following words, “Ms. Decker wasn’t actually there but by using GPS technology developed by GoldRun customers could see her in various poses in over 700 stores. As exciting as this was for Barnes & Noble customers, what it portends for marketers is potentially staggering.”
But it is just one example how augmented reality changes the retail pattern by helping in customer engagement. This technology is not just about posing with some virtual character and posting the images on social network. In fact, it is much more than that and it our next post we will get into the topic how this technology is affecting the retail industry.