There’s no denying that the rapid advancement of technologies has already transformed our shopping habits. Online stores displace physical ones, therefore promoting rapidity and comfort. Yet most competitive retailers refuse to surrender: they strive to re-establish a cohesive shopping experience – both online and offline.
These days it is impossible to stay away from innovations if to be successful. Now that the digital medium and in-store marketing must work in tandem to add real value to the shopping experience, technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) allow retailers to offer a more personal, interactive experience that will change the way we shop forever.
The present high demand for these technologies has been acknowledged by enthusiastic investors who poured over $3 billion in AR/VR last year. According to Goldman Sachs Research, this industry will become an $80 billion market by 2025.
However, due to low consumer adoption of VR headsets, it is augmented reality that is much better positioned to change the way we buy online today. It aims to involve shoppers more in visualizing and configuring products, so that they are no longer left with doubts about their purchase.
We can observe a spreading trend about being able to virtually try before you buy. It’s illustrated by the survey of adult U.S. shoppers conducted by Interactions Consumer Experience Marketing. According to its results, 71% of respondents said they would shop more at a retailer whose services are supported with augmented reality, and 72% shoppers would purchase non-planned items exactly because of the AR influence. These numbers transform the landscape of the whole retail industry.
Several high-street companies and big-name brands have already implemented augmented reality technology into their campaigns or services and proved that it works. For instance, IKEA Place app used for previewing furniture in home space, Amazon AR View feature or BMW iVisualiser for seeing how a new car will look in your driveway.
Additionally, even the AR application development process has become much easier with the appearance of various software development kits, such as ARtoolkit, Google ARCore or Vuforia.
So, basically, why has augmented reality gone so viral? Because it’s an innovative win-win solution for both retailers and shoppers.
When it comes to buyers, one of the basic advantages of AR is proximity. People can virtually try on clothing, accessories and even make-up to ensure getting the right thing for themselves. The feeling of presence and interaction helps to even better visualize and understand the product. Meantime, the opportunity to modify and customize items, select different colours and materials provides absolute individualization and a personalized shopping experience.
Furthermore, buyers save their time, money and effort both for offline shopping and returns. These days the usual trip to a mall is no longer entertainment, it’s a waste of time. By contrast, augmented reality turns shopping into a simple, quick, ultra-convenient and entertaining process.
One more benefit of AR in retail for people is less wasted purchases. This particularly applies to millions of tons of textile waste generated each year in the United States. And it concerns not only clothes – consumers are throwing away tonnes of unused make-up ordered online, or even bought in store without trying on. Thus, being able to virtually model the make-up through AR, people can make informed decisions.
Meanwhile, retailers have even more to benefit from applying augmented reality to shopping.
Primarily, you can increase your sales. Augmented reality is a brand-new argument to better convince consumers what they are buying is right from them. This reduces indecision and invariably leads to people make more informed purchases – that is less doubt, less size guessing and, accordingly, less returns.
The second benefit is the omni-channel experience. Augmented reality is the very bridge that connects your online and offline commerce in order to drive engagements, sales and increase conversion rate. Connecting your offline marketing to your online store with interactive catalogs can help you close the purchasing loop and generate a smooth seamless shopping voyage.
On the other hand, augmented reality invites smaller retailers to go exclusively online. The problem here lies in the fact that for many of them owning a physical shop is too costly and is likely to be their single biggest expense. On the contrary, if to be able to remove this aspect, retailers can save a great deal of money by keeping a single online fitting room which is simultaneously an online warehouse with always available items of any size and color.
And don’t forget about data collection. The greater use of AR in fashion allows all the retailers to gather massive amounts of big data about individual purchases. This can help tailor customized proposals and reach even higher level of personalization, meaning customer satisfaction.
By and large, as the future of e-commerce continues to shape, AR will have a profound transformative impact on how we purchase online. It will augment our shopping experience with more qualitative retail and more informed decisions.