How Augmented Reality is Revolutionizing the Retail Industry
4 August 2021
AR Shopping: How Augmented Reality is the Future of Retail
Almost anyone who hears the term ‘Augmented Reality’ thinks it’s some type of sci-fiction technology that can only be a part of hollywood movies and Pokemon Go.
And while both of those things are true, it is so much more than that. Now I know what you’re thinking. Even if it’s more, why do I have to care about it? What do I have to gain from the technology itself? Well, settle down because I’m here to answer all of your questions. But first, let me just break down what exactly the term ‘Augmented Reality’ is.
‘Augmented Reality’ is an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera).
If that doesn’t register as something you’ve ever seen or used, just take a look at this video.
Looks cool, right?
Well, that’s ‘Augmented Reality’ (AR). My Colleague used it to try out a 3D replica of a bicycle in our office garden and that’s something I think is pretty cool. Getting to see a real-life model of a bicycle in your own space before making the decision to buy - that’s a ‘Try Before You Buy’ on a whole nother level. And it’s not just the fact that you get to try it first hand - but that you get to do it from your phone - with a single click.
Taking AR Mainstream
Many brands are resorting to using AR for Virtual Selling and you can clearly see why. It’s Convenient. It’s Compatible. It’s Cost-effective. And most importantly - it gives customers the Choice of trying and testing items to see what’s a match for them.
While brands like Ikea and Home Depot are using AR to market their products online, fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Gucci are using it to let customers try on Clothes and Accessories on their phones. And they’re not ahead of their time. Augmented Reality as a technology has become so mainstream that it is no longer a nice-to-have feature, but a must-have.
The Introduction of Commercial AR
When Shah Jewellers had their retail stores shut down because of the pandemic, their owner turned to ‘Melzo’ for creating their own Augmented Reality Application that allowed customers to try-on jewellery pieces and designs from their phone. Moreover - the app had a novel feature to create a 3D 360 degree model of a jewellery piece using 6 to 18 images of the piece, taken from different angles, and stitched together to replicate a real-life model.
And that’s just an example of how far AR can go. Along the past year AR has become so mainstream in the Retail & Fashion Industry that we have a term coined for it - called ‘Commercial AR’.
Commercial AR describes Augmented Reality (AR) applications that support various B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) commercial activities, particularly for the retail industry.
Using AR as a channel for Selling does not only enhance your brand but also enriches the customer experience by times ten. And that’s the very concept of Commercial AR.
The Future of Retail in Post Covid Times
After Ikea and Sephora, brands have been using AR to establish themselves on a Global Level. And it is yet to reach its peak. Companies soon will be using Augmented Reality Marketing to redefine online customer engagement and interaction - by making it a part of their day-to-day activities.
Here are some of the ways:
Walmart recently announced that they will be rolling out a Virtual Dressing Room application that will let shoppers try on different outfits on virtual models ofthemselves in real time. This will not only help Walmart prove that they’re the innovators in retail, but also give them the benefit of wider customer adoption.
Shopify, for instance, said that customers who tried on clothes using an AR Try-on application were 40% less likely to return their purchases.
The very first adopters of AR for creating Virtual 3D Product Catalogs were Amazon, Ikea, Wayfair, and Target. Letting customers try out different models and items from their store catalogs and ecommerce sites was something that set them apart from their competitors.
Since then, companies have been using AR applications to let customers visualize how their furniture pieces would look in their own houses - whether it’s a table, chair, couch, or window curtains.
Like we discussed, AR used as a Virtual Try-on Tool (for make-up, jewellery, watches, and all kinds of accessories) is a great way to offer customers a personalised shopping experience, and it works because it brings a profound novelty to your brand.
Plus, being in the post Covid times, nothing is more important to millennial shoppers than technology that gives them the ability to explore and choose without stepping out from their house.
Speaking of which - if you’re someone who wants to create or explore AR Try-ons for your business, we can help. Melzo’s made up of business-minded tech people and tech-minded business people who can help you integrate 3D Jewellery Try ons and more for Free!