Retailers are now embracing augmented shopping to bring customers a more enhanced and futuristic journey. New technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are building a competitive edge over stores that ignore this digital transformation. Here are ways this unstoppable revolution is impacting the retail industry.
Creating Smart Shopping Environments with AR and VR
The evolution of augmented shopping is in its early stages, but its adoption in retail is steadily spreading. It facilitates the consumer's ambition to learn as much about a product before committing to an expense, which helps give them peace of mind they've made the right decision.
Some of the pioneers leading the way to inspire AR/VR deployment include retail giants IKEA, Wayfair, and Lowe's. Now that these companies have shown how the technologies work and can improve the customer experience, more stores are jumping on board. Not only will augmented reality improve the physical in-store experience, but it will also provide flexibility for customers to test new products at home before deciding to visit the store.
Modern AR/VR Use Cases
- In-Store Navigation at Lowe's - Home improvement store Lowe's was one of the first retailers to utilize the AR-based in-store navigation app concept. It allows users to navigate through big stores, providing optimized routes. It can further direct a customer toward discounts and items the customer might want based on their purchasing history.
- Crocs on Smartphone Screens - Foam shoe manufacturer Crocs provides an app that lets customers view product details by holding their smartphone camera over the product.
- Nike's "Try-Before-Buy" Approach - The shoe maker's AR app lets customers measure their feet and find recommendations for shoes based on key factors such as foot size and shape, lacing, and shoe materials.
- Furniture fitting at IKEA - Furniture retailer IKEA has launched a proprietary app which allows customers to view what furniture would look like in their homes. The 3D experience creates a perception of walking around or sitting in the room while interacting with objects.
- VR via Softengi's Real Estate App - IT provider Softengi develops custom software for various industries including real estate. The firm has designed a real estate app to allow homebuyers the chance to witness the time-lapse photography of the home's construction via a VR headset.
- Audi's London VR showroom - Automaker Audi creates a virtual environment for customers that allows them to test-drive a new car wearing VR glasses without ever physically stepping outside the showroom. This technology eliminates the need for actual vehicles to take up so much floor space.
Outlook for AR and VR Applications
The future of AR and VR looks clear for retailers. Within the next few years, over 120,000 stores will invest in AR to account for as much as 3 percent of store revenue. Better product imagery is a proven way to increase conversions as people process images 60 times faster than words. Once consumers become aware of these technologies for an enhanced shopping experience, they may not want to go back to the old world. Trying items before you buy is often the key that converts sales, which retailers cannot ignore.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of what these virtual technologies offer is that they open the door for more customization and engagement. Customers can now try on new clothes at an accelerated pace to evaluate more choices in less time. The technology allows for customers to even walk virtually through warehouses to view hundreds of items. Retailers no longer need to invest in large and capital-intensive physical locations. Future malls will likely be a collection of showrooms without inventory, dedicated to immersive product experiences.