Being mostly associated with gaming and entertainment, the VR/AR technologies can be much more valuable for other industries like healthcare, education, or e-commerce.
In the upcoming 2020, the retail industry is expected to spend $1,5 billion on the AR/VR technologies, and it is the largest sum across all the industries. In this blog post, we will see what opportunities AR/VR offers to the retail companies and their customers.
Augmented Reality in Retail
Let us begin with the ways augmented reality is utilized. This technology implies the overlaying of digital objects onto the surrounding reality and is performed with the help of various devices like smartphones or tablets. Here are some of the use cases in the retail industry.
One of the most interesting and involving ways of utilizing AR in retail is trying on the goods. For example, Gucci introduced a mobile app that allows users to virtually try on any pair of sneakers that are available for ordering. Here is how it works: you point the device’s camera to the foot and the technology puts a 3D model of a sneaker on it. There are also similar apps for trying on clothes and accessories as well as cosmetics products. The latest work exactly like Snapchat or Instagram masks but instead of bunny ears or cat whiskers you can see your face with lipstick and eye-shadows that can be ordered directly from this app.
Another thing to try with the help of AR technology is furniture and decorations. As an example, Ikea provided its customers with the opportunity to virtually place sofas or tables in their homes. This simplifies the choice for the customers and makes them more confident in the purchases they are about to make.
Better product understanding
The implementation of AR technology can help brands to provide users with additional information about the product. The Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota used an AR app to show customers how their new car with Hybrid drivetrain works. The app overlayed the visualization of inner mechanisms and processes right onto the real automobile so that everyone can better understand the way it works.
Along with such a sophisticated application, there can be a simpler option for informing — the one adding text or image next to a product you are pointing a camera to.
The bigger the brick-and-mortar stores become, the more difficult it gets to find the goods you need without spending a couple of hours there. The AR-empowered apps offer an effective solution: when you enter the store with a prepared shopping list, the app creates the optimum route covering all the goods you came for and guides you with the help of digital arrows and signs. This will help customers to save time and not to get lost somewhere in the dairy and grocery departments.
Gamification and loyalty
AR-based games can also be beneficial for retailers which have been proven by Walmart in 2018. The famous American retail corporation partnered with a range of brands to develop an app for entertaining and engaging customers while they are shopping. The users could point their smartphones to QR-codes on different goods to play branded games, to interact with animated brand mascots, to take selfies with specially created filters and masks. All these things not only made shopping more pleasant and customers — more loyal, but also increased the awareness of brands since people shared their experience and photos via social networks.
Virtual Reality in Retail
Speaking of virtual reality we mean the fully artificial digital world that can be reached with the help of special headsets. Since there is a need for special equipment, the adoption of VR technology goes slower compared to AR. Yet, there are already some interesting VR-based solutions helping the retail companies.
Designing stores and displaying goods
Using the power of virtual reality the retail companies can create a digital copy of a store they want to build in order to analyze the design and make all the required changes and improvements. The same is about displaying goods on the shelves: it is much simpler and faster to test everything in virtual reality before doing the same in the real world. So, VR technology allows the retail industry to save time and money.
Designing and presenting products
The same way VR helps to design stores it can help to design products. Ford utilized such a tool to inspect the virtual model in detail before building a real automobile.
VR technology also opens new opportunities for retail companies allowing them to create a simulation of using the product. During the promotion of its new car, Audi offered customers to ‘drive’ it with the help of a VR headset. If this experience is adopted by other automotive brands, the dealerships could become smaller and, hence, cheaper, since there would be no need for placing dozens of cars in one place.
Being empowered by AI, the AR/VR apps can also be used for getting customized useful advice. The Specular Theory’s FAB, an e-commerce platform selling goods for babies, offered parents an effective and comfortable way to make homes safe for their children. It was an app that used AI, VR and AR technologies to detect dangerous places, find a suitable product for eliminating the threat and overlay its digital image onto reality. Of course, it was possible to buy the required products via the app.
The Bottom Line
The AR/VR-based solutions open a wide range of opportunities for the retail and e-commerce industry: providing customers with a more engaging shopping experience, driving the sales conversation, increasing brand awareness and loyalty, saving time and money both for companies themselves and their customers, etc. These technologies combine the best features of online and offline shopping: no need for leaving the house and wasting time in queues while having the chance to interact with a good before buying it.
Being enthusiastic about all the innovations and proficient in AR/VR software development, SCAND team is ready to start a new game-changing project with you. Contact us to share your idea and get help in bringing it to life.