Augmented Reality for Retailers is driving customer engagement. Leading retailers are adopting this amazing technology in different ways to improve in-store shopping experience and increase sales
If large retailers with multi-chain retail store are investing in this emerging technology, it’s time for smaller chains and retailers to also adopt and take advantage of Augmented Reality based solutions to improve in-store customer engagement and drive sales.
E-commerce boom and the success of online shopping has pushed retailers to find new ways of improving in-store customer engagement and delivering personalised services to the customers in order to bring back consumers to the stores.
This is where Augmented Reality for retailers could prove the most promising technology for engaging with the consumers and driving sales.
In retail business the toughest challenges are retaining customers and acquiring the new ones to maintain a steady growth rate. The Augmented Reality for retailers enables them to build strong relationships with the consumers, generate new revenue streams and acquire new customers.
From omni-channel retail to print advertising, AR enables retailers to exploit various traditional and non-traditional mediums of customer engagement that includes e-commerce, print advertising, social media, smart phones, tablets, touchscreen digital signage, virtual mirrors and wearable devices.
Traditionally, retailers have relied on print advertising such as newspaper, magazine ads and billboard ads to promote products and brand but AR is further adding value to these traditional methods of advertising and completely redefining the marketing landscape.
Augmented Reality for retailers enables them to work on strategies that not only drive better engagement in-store but also on-the-go, when consumers are on a bus stop or walking on the street.
AR offers distinctive advantages to the retailers. It brings products to life on smart phones and tablets allowing consumers to experience the products as in reality before making a purchase. It superimposes animated content, graphics, videos and audio over a physical environment that delivers most interactive experiences in real-time. A simple augmented reality based mobile app enables retailers to engage consumers through print advertising as well as outdoor advertising thereby extending the reach of the marketing campaign.
According to Juniper Research, retailers are adopting this emerging technology quickly and embedding into the mobile apps and marketing materials to extend their marketing capabilities and strengthen the consumer engagement and acquisition processes. It is estimated that AR will drive over $500MN in sales, this year. Another research report by a well known consumer firm has revealed that retailers have started using AR technology in the form of branded virtual games to engage consumers as well as a means of providing useful information to the consumers about products in real-time.
The research report by Juniper also revealed that by 2015, over 2.5 billion AR apps will be downloaded on smart phones and tablets due to the growing popularity of AR based applications among consumers.
Apart from driving sales, Augmented reality for retailers is proving to be a beneficial technology for creating most amazing customer experiences. One of the largest supermarket chain Tesco launched cover-to-cover AR-enabled magazine that allowed consumers to download the app on any smart phone device and access how-to-videos, recipes and even buy groceries simply by scanning the magazine ads.
- McDonalds had launched an augmented reality based soccer game during the football world cup which was a huge success for brand. The app turned the fry pockets into a virtual reality soccer field, where players try to flick a ball into the fries box. The app was developed using the Vuforia technology from Qualcomm that turns real-world objects into a virtual obstacles to prevent the ball from reaching the fries box and bounce back, making it engaging for the users to keep trying for the goal. Steve Easterbrook, senior exec VP global chief brand officer of McDonald’s said in a statement that “the app is about bringing fun and innovative programming to our customers and celebrating the love for Football. We are excited to be able to do that through an engaging mobile experience and of course with our world-famous fries”.
Application of Augmented Reality in the Fashion industry and Apparels Retail business
Apparels retail and clothing industry is one of the most complex markets for replicating the offline experience as most of the consumers try the outfit in order to check the fitting, the look of the outfit, fabric comfort and other aspects before buying.
Buyers always want to get a good idea of the outfit they want to purchase to ensure that it is worth their hard earned money and it will look good on them. There’s no substitute to this real-life experience that consumers get while shopping in-store and till now, online stores have failed to deliver any such experience to the consumers.
But with the emergence on AR it is now possible for the buyers to virtually try outfits and experience what the outfit will look like on them.
Augmented reality for retailers also enables Fashion outlets and apparel retailers to build virtual trial rooms and mirrors that allow customers to get the idea of what the outfit will look like as in reality without even using the actual trial room. It also allows customers to get additional information about the fabric, sizes and options available, offers and compare prices.
Considering its potential many leading retailers are investing in developing augmented reality based mobile apps and platforms to create virtual experiences such as virtual trial rooms, mirrors and touchscreen signage.
- Tesco, the leading retail chain in the UK has launched Augmented Reality based virtual mirror that allows customers to experience different outfits in virtual reality to drive better engagement and sales. Tesco experienced immediate customer engagement and boost in sales after implementing the solution in some of the stores before rolling out the solution at a larger scale.
- Another example of AR in the fashion industry is the app from De Beers. Their ‘Forevermark Fitting’ app allows customers to try different styles of diamonds jewellery through webcam and experience how different styles would look on them and against their skin tones.
- Topshop has created AR based dressing rooms. The app allows customers to virtually try their purchased outfits, quickly and easily and it is ideal for the customers who are in a hurry.
Augemented Reality for retailers has the potential and all the ingredients to empower retailers to bring back consumers to the stores and add value to their traditional marketing and advertising channels.
It is not about simulating an experience but it is all about creating more immersive and interactive shopping experience both in-store and outdoor. Investing strategically in Augmented Reality based mobile apps, platforms and solutions will not only enable Retailers to drive customer engagement but also enable to them boost sales and turn first time visitors into potential long-term buyers.