How AR is Transforming the Retail Experience
Both brands and retailers realize that they need a more powerful method of engaging with the customer. Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that has been on the horizon for many years now but still remains shrouded in mystery for many retailers, brands and consumers. AR allows an interactive experience which incorporates sensory elements augmented by computer-generated information. Even though AR is still in the beginning stages in terms of retail, it offers a new method of exciting consumers, which is more economical than physical experiences. AR experiences can also be customized to a specific environment and can convey a sensory connection with a product in a matter of minutes.
According to a report from Business Insider, 75% of customers now expect retailers to offer an AR experience. Mobile AR in retail is likely to boom as Apple and Google continue to build their AR platforms ARKit and ARCore which expand the market exponentially. There are many ways AR can be used to increase a retailer’s bottom line and work wonders for things like brand awareness, geographic reach and conversion rates. Let’s look at some of the ways augmented reality is transforming the retail experience.
AR in Cosmetics Sales
Recently there have been AR solution created which allows users to try on simulated cosmetics, thus causing increases in sales. They use photo-realistic makeup simulation with dynamic lighting along with photo-realistic hair color and style simulation. Examples of such technologies include Modiface and YouCam which are facial-mapping AR solutions that let users see how they would look in different makeup and hair colors. Users can also share these AR images on social media.
If we take this a step further, why not develop an AR solution which lets you simulate dresses to go along with the makeup? Skywell Software has experience in developing such a solution which allows you to change the texture and color of the dress.
The AR solutions mentioned above can improve overall conversion rates, but also they may be easier to build. Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its ARkit 2.0 at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple said that the newest version of their AR development platform makes apps easier to build, but more importantly, thanks to the support of such major brands as Apple, will promote further AR experimentation, development and deployment. If you would like more information on estimating the cost of developing the technologies mentioned above, you can find it here.
AR Solutions for Fashion Retailers
It is no surprise that augmented reality has been a hit with fashion retailers given the wide opportunities that are presented to them. This includes interactive mirrors which allow shoppers to see their outfits from all perspectives and share the images with their friends. Such interactive mirrors can also be placed in public places to let passers-by try on hats, makeup and other accessories.
Also, AR technology can be used in the dressing room to include a touch screen that provides information to the customer about product availability, sizes and styles, without having to leave the dressing room. This could have huge appeal with millennials and generation Z customers. For them, experience matters more than the materialistic stuff and they will choose brandship over flagship any day. For example, Zara launched an app which allows a user to point their phones at their shop windows and models who are wearing the clothes are brought to life for 7-12 second sequences.
No Need to Leave Your Home
Even though we discussed how AR is enhancing the in-store experience, it could also make physically going to the store a thing of the past. Thanks to AR, customers can experience products and services in the comfort of their homes. Brands such as Magnolia Market created apps that allow customers to see how various products would look like in their homes. This allowed them to extend their reach, especially since they only have one physical store, which is located in Waco, TX.
Even brands such as Home Depot, Lowes, IKEA and others, which have many locations all over the US can harness this technology by simplifying choices for consumers. For example, if someone is sitting on the fence about whether or not to buy a particular product, they can use AR to see how it will look like in their house. This eliminates the hassle of physically delivering a product and having to deliver it back to the store in case you are dissatisfied.
The AR market is quickly becoming primed for retailers. By combining online and in-store experiences, AR promises to provide an immersive digital shopping experience, the likes of which have never been seen before. If we look at mobile AR, it one of the most sought after technologies to improve the digital shopping experience because it can be used to bring the in-store experience into the user’s home. Currently, retails have the opportunity to pull ahead of the competition to build brand loyalty, increase engagement, widen the geographic reach and shorten conversion times.
Retailers who are not ahead of the pack in harnessing and adapting their stores to benefit customers, risk becoming extinct or dissipating into obscurity. Customers today, not just millennials and generation Z clients, expect more convenience and comfort from your store and if you cannot provide this to them, they will simply find someone who will.