shopper

How AR is Reinventing the Reality of Shopping

What Augmented Reality has in store for the future 

Not long ago, augmented reality was a concept only seen in Sci-fi movies like Minority Report. Now it’s in the hands of people all across the globe—from medical students using iPads to study anatomy through AR-enhanced models, to immersive AR museum tours.

Today we’re taking a look at how retailers are using AR to design a better shopping experience today, and what they could do in the future.

Retailers use AR to amp up the in-store experience

We’re living in an experience economy, where consumers view an experience as more valuable than a physical product. Alex Klokus, CEO of Futurism, offered us his thoughts on the retail experience and what retailers can do to improve it:

"There’s a big opportunity to make the retail experience much more interactive and enjoyable for the customer. So for example, creating a fun AR experience around a product, rather than being simply transactional, makes your store more of a destination for shoppers."

Retailers are already taking note of these ideas and use them to enhance the shopping experience to draw in consumers. For example, Disney successfully leveraged this concept to craft a new experience and promote their new merchandise with an in-store Star Wars AR-enhanced treasure hunt, generating additional excitement for its toys despite mixed reviews about the 2017 movie sequel itself.

The new catalog is virtual

In-store AR mirrors are set to change the way customers engage with products. Shoppers no longer need to pick out an item and waste time physically trying it on—they can simply stand in front of an AR mirror, and conveniently cycle through a virtual catalog using hand gestures to see how they look in real time.

This idea is not only limited to in-store smart mirrors—smartphones also allow people to test out new looks. This concept was brought to life wonderfully by Sephora, whose sales are thriving—their smartphone app lets customers see what they’d look like wearing a new shade of lipstick without opening the tube. Lacoste also launched an app that allows customers to try shoes on virtually. Since this service launched, more than 30,000 users have tried on virtual shoes, and the brand has become more popular with a younger crowd.

Moving beyond the retail space, IKEA already lets you see what virtual furniture looks like in your home. Imagine taking this idea a step further and remodeling the entire room?

A catwalk in the palm of their hand

The leading fast fashion brand ZARA makes use of AR in innovative ways to change how shoppers navigate between the racks and the dressing room. Select ZARA stores have introduced AR displays allowing shoppers to view models wearing their clothing. They have taken this concept even further with AR models that pose and show off the latest fashion for customers. These AR services are all supported through their dedicated app, ZaraAR, which also allows shoppers to purchase products directly.

Taking AR to infinity and beyond

Retailers are looking for any kind of edge in a highly competitive marketplace, and innovative use of AR technology can give them the winning advantage, for both in-store and online sales. Whether it’s AR mirrors or smartphone-enabled AR, there’s no doubt that developments in the field of augmented reality will be able to help your business offer more engaging, user-driven, and interactive experiences—experiences that will live on as vivid memories long after your competitors have been forgotten.

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Updated Jan 10, 2019 | Originally published April 2018

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