Future of Augmented Reality for Brands and Retailers
Did you know that out of USD$ 3 trillion being spent in commerce, only about 8 percent is spent in online shopping. Most of the commerce is still happening offline and in 2020, retailers and innovative brands are looking to adopt immersive digital methods for offline shopping to increase their revenue, drive consumer engagement and improve brand awareness and loyalty. How do they do it? Augmented Reality (AR) is a key transformational enabler for offline consumer engagement which brands and retailers are implementing to digitalize the consumer experience. This digital innovation is already creating a massive shift in how retailers conduct business. But what exactly is AR? How is it affecting the future strategies of retailers and brands?
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that enriches the real world with information and digital media. These digital media can be 3D models, videos, or other formats that are superimposed in real-time by the view of the camera on our smartphones, tablets, computers or connected glasses. Thus, the virtual world and the real-world merge on the screens of our devices. AR uses Computerized Graphics and virtual objects to create real-time scenes from the real world. It is designed to “augment” i.e. add graphics, sounds or touch to enhance a user’s experience. It’s not surprising to see how AR technology is becoming more accessible. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and many other leading tech giants have invested heavily in AR technology. You can see the impact on smartphones, smart wearables, and smart prompts, such as photo tags on social media networks.
Over the last few years, AR has started to impact how consumers expect to interact with products. According to Gartner, “By 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in AR online and in-store.” Based on a BRP report, about 75 percent of consumers expect retailers to offer an AR experience while 69 percent of consumers expect retailers to launch their AR app in 2020. So, for retailers and business owners, this is the perfect time to transform business utilizing AR.
Although AR is still in early stages of adoption, it’s already starting to become an integral part of the shopping experience. Many brands, such as Lacoste, Testco, Converse, Zara, IKEA, MTV to name few, are utilizing AR to embed smart interactive content into their products and immerse consumers into a world where real and virtual merge. Imagine your child scanning a cereal box and launching a mini game on their devise, or you researching competitive products straight off the shelf? Imagine walking through the airport and seeing a wall advertisement for an amusement park and being able to scan it and immediately immerse into park’s experience and be redirected to buy a ticket? And what if you can scan your medicine package at home and place an online order straight off the package, without having to go to the pharmacy or go to the online portal?
Building AR content can help brands and retailers grow their businesses in a new way, truly developing an understanding of consumer behaviors. How does the consumer engage with my brand or with this packaging or with this product? What marketing campaigns work or don’t work? AR can enable brands to develop a detailed understanding of consumer engagement and allow brands to enhance this engagement in a new digitally exciting way. That’s why it’s not surprising to see brands have mastered and integrated AR technology into their businesses, and are starting to see increased revenues, spontaneous brand awareness, and a jump in customer loyalty.
Retailers continue to explore ways in which they can implement Augmented Reality and the more they experiment with the technology the sooner AR will become an integral part of the offline shopping experience. Augmented Reality brings the added value never seen before and gives the consumer a new vision of the product. Although it is still in early phases of adoption, AR is proving to be a new way to experience the world. The bottom line is that AR facilitates interaction between retailers/brands and their consumers. The retailer shares interesting AR content with their consumer who learn more about the product with ease and excitement. By using Augmented Reality technology, retailers and brands are creating a more engaging and fun way for their customers to shop. In 2019, Toyota launched the Hybrid AR app to help consumers understand the new C-HR model. Using the app customers were able to interact with the car’s key features. Sephora has been using AR since 2016 and integrated AR Virtual Artist into its main app, allowing its customers to see how some of the beauty products will work with the actual customer’s face. Augmented Reality is here to change the offline and online shopping and make it into more exciting, more digitalized and definitely more rewarding consumer experience. We are definitely facing a breaking dawn of a new technology!