Augmented reality technology has now almost become an indispensable part of retail and commerce. Most of the retailers and businesses are using this intuitive technology to provide their customers with an interactive experience which will give their shopping a whole new edge. Augmented reality will allow retailers and brands to interact with the customers in a different way. This technology can be used inside as well as outside the stores to assist customers while they are looking for products they want to buy. AR also plays an important role in mobile commerce. Distance selling is made easier with this interactive technology.
Role of Augmented Reality in Retail
According to a report from Juniper Research, at least 60 million users of tablets, smartphones and smart glasses will be using AR apps in 2014. With increasing use of AR apps, it is a clear indication what retailers should do in order to gain more customers. With this increasing demand, more and more retailers are providing their customers with the opportunity to use AR to get additional information on the products they want to purchase and even try on clothes or shoes virtually. There are different ways in which AR can be used in retail. They include:
- Interactive Promotion
By adding location and image based AR, promotion of products gets even better. An advertisement which is otherwise static and generic can be made more dynamic and specific to meet the users’ requirements. Retailers can target the users based on their selection choices, context and location. With targeted messaging and by providing the consumers with the option of selecting the information they want to get, retailers can easily measure the ROI. Marketing will become interactive and consumers will be drawn more towards the products or services.
- Providing Instant Purchase
When retailers target consumers with specific messages, they might want to buy the products. So, it is natural to provide them with an option to make an instant purchase right from the interactive content. This is possible with AR. The interface using this technology can provide consumers either with a link to the product page on a retailer’s website or they can take the consumers directly to an online payment transaction. With AR, the chances of a subsequent purchase increases significantly.
- Deals and Offers
With location based augmented reality, nearby locations of the customers can be identified where they can get their desired products, services or offers. When customers make the choice of information that they want to get regarding certain products or services of their interest, they will learn about all the available stores that can fulfill their requirements, based on their current location. The data is presented in the form of icon markers on maps or overlaid onto the real world and can be seen through the camera of the smartphones or tablets. When users select an icon, they will be able to get more details which include reviews of other users or options to share it with friends.
Retailers can use this to promote their offers whereas consumers can find information about delivery points, products and nearest retailers.
- Localizing Businesses
Retailers can use the location-based technology of AR and combine it with localized SEO to contact customers who were earlier outside their reach. For example, if an individual is in urgent need of a pair of shoes, but is in an unknown area, he/she can find out the nearest shoe shops by using an AR app. Customers will also be benefitted with the use of this technology and know where to find the exact product they are looking for.
- Providing Accuracy in a Purchase Process
With augmented reality apps, customers can learn more about the products and know everything before they buy them. This gives them the power of accuracy during their purchase. Customers are well informed which in turn makes for a successful purchase. They are likely to be satisfied and buy more products from the retailers who provide them with this AR option.
Role of Augmented Reality in Commerce
E-commerce and m-commerce can be enhanced significantly with the use of augmented reality. There are many benefits of using this interactive technology in commerce which will help in its growth. Let us have a look at how AR can be used in commerce.
- Increase Sales
If customers are provided with the option of getting a feel of the products even before they buy it, this will convince them to make that purchase and in turn increase sales. They can connect to any product more easily when they can it ‘try on’ virtually.
- Price Comparisons
There are many AR apps which let consumers compare prices of the product they want to buy. They are also able to create their shopping lists. All these features improve the shopping experience of the customers and increase the brand equity.
- Enhance Print Advertising
Print ads no longer have to be static. They can be given a dynamic edge by integrating augmented reality in the content. Users of AR apps can scan newspapers, catalogs, brochures, etc. which have AR integrated in them to provide the readers with additional interactive content. The content can range from click-to-buy buttons to product videos which will rouse the users’ interest about the products.
- Imitate The In-store Experience
To draw consumers to e-commerce and m-commerce, it is essential to provide the customers with a similar experience as that of a physical store. With AR, this is possible without even requiring the customers to set their foot inside the stores. AR apps imitate the shopping experience to make the customers at ease. Users of the apps can check the prices of the items digitally, try them on virtually, check their 3D models and finally make their purchase, all through their mobile devices.
- Increase in Profit
According to certain reports, augmented reality revenues will get past $3 billion by 2015. AR apps will double the m-commerce revenues by next year. With these data, it is clear how AR will help in increasing profit in commerce. ROI can be generated in different ways like direct sales, conversion, brand awareness, dwell time and PR.
Overall, augmented reality is going to affect the lives of both retailers and consumers in a positive way. Buying decisions will increasingly be influenced by this technology in the coming days.
Examples of Augmented Reality in Retail and Commerce
Here are a few examples of how AR has been used in retail.
- IKEA AR Catalog
IKEA, the leading furniture company, launched their augmented reality catalog in 2013. With this catalog, shoppers will be able to visualize certain furniture items in their rooms. They can place them virtually in their rooms and get a feel of how their room will look like after that item is placed. The app measures the size of the items against the area of the room and provides a visualization which replicates the actual furniture size.
- IBM App
IBM launched their AR app to help consumers buy products inside the stores. According to IBM research, 58 percent of consumers want to get information about the products when they are inside a store before purchase and 19 percent of consumers tend to browse through their mobile device while they are shopping, to get more information about the product. With IBM app, shoppers are provided with tailored information while they are browsing through the products.
- Dulux Visualizer
The Dulux Visualizer app lets users recolor the walls of their rooms as they point their mobile devices to the walls. They can choose from different color schemes and can also view and store them. Screenshots with varied colors on the walls of their rooms can be saved and shared with their friends using the app.
Educational content is also displayed through a video called ‘Dulux Masterclass’. The app also shows the users the adjoining Dulux stores. With e-commerce features, users can order paint testers, stock online and have them delivered to their home.
A Quick Recap of how Augmented Reality helps in Retail and Commerce
- Enhances conversion rates and reduces returns for clothing stores with virtual fitting rooms
- Merges conventional retail experience and e-commerce
- Makes advertising campaigns more powerful
- Improves brand recognition
- Shows additional information about products thereby enriching the shopping experience
- Increases in-store sales
- Envisage product catalogs
With augmented reality increasingly being used by majority of retailers and consumers, it is necessary for the retailers who are yet to venture in this space, to start using this technology. Including AR in their marketing strategy will prepare them for the future when the use of this technology will be indispensable. With a proper AR strategy in place, brands can get past their competitors and reach out to their prospective consumers in a much better way.
Do you think retailers should make augmented reality a part of their marketing strategy? Will this technology be helpful in improving commerce? Share your insights in the comments below.
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