How Will AR in Retail Revolutionise the Customer Experience?

Here's how AR in the retail industry will reshape how customers shop

How AR Is Changing The Way Customers Shop
Augmented RealityNews Analysis

Published: December 14, 2022

Demond Cureton

Augmented Reality (AR) is quickly emerging as a crucial feature of the modern retail world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies began searching for immersive ways to connect with customers off the high street.

As a component of extended reality (XR), AR could become viable for the market’s increasingly digitised consumer journey.

Unlike virtual reality (VR), AR adds computer-generated information and images to a live view of the real world. Already, some retailers have begun exploring what this technology might mean to the future of how consumers experience and discover products.

AR in Retail: Try Before You Buy

One of the biggest benefits of AR in retail is that it offers consumers the opportunity to try on products without physically visiting stores.

For example, Walmart recently launched an app that allows customers to try on clothing. Customers have hailed the solution for eliminating the need for fitting rooms and reducing shopping times.

Estee Lauder also created an AR app where customers can try on cosmetics with various AR filters to reach the right combination of makeup. As consumers familiarise with AR-enhanced shopping, the industry likely scale up the number of available solutions.

Customers can even step into virtual fitting rooms if they don’t have the time to try something on in-store. For instance, Retail VR and digital twin firm Matterport partnered to offer 3D try-on demos for consumers. These technologies dramatically reduce product returns, minimise overstocking, and avoid hygiene contamination. These were highly beneficial in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Improving Buyer Decision Making

The concept of try-before-you-buy them is appealing to customers that might otherwise struggle to make confident decisions. However, it also appeals to shoppers on the high street, too.

With an AR app, people can try that furniture out in their homes and see exactly what it could look like, without buyer’s remorse. AR can even reduce the number of returns that consumers make regularly. Studies suggest that around 30 percent of all products ordered online are ultimately returned.

In retail, digital, or otherwise, returns can cause significant issues for businesses. However, with AR solutions, customers can better visualize products and make informed decisions that reduce returns.

Studies show that 76 percent of customers would probably purchase more items if they had a “try before you buy” option available. This shows the value of informed decision-making at the till.

Going Beyond the Shopping Experience with AR in Retail

AR’s greatest impact on the retail sector relies on the customer experience. Companies are now seeing the benefits of XR on marketing and branding.

Numerous firms such as Avataar, Zero10 and Nextech AR have contributed significantly to the XR ecosystem of retail solutions. These have boosted engagement with customer bases and attracted greater numbers with creative, immersive content.

Journey, a consultancy firm for immersive experiences, has also begun reshaping the retail industry with bespoke XR experiences.

With the development of metaverse platforms like Fortnite, Decentraland, the Sandbox, Somnium Space, and Insomnia Labs, major retailers have found their homes in the virtual world.

Nike created its NIKELAND metaverse to engage with its fanbase and build a community of supporters. Conversely, Timberland selected Epic Games’ Fortnite for similar engagement strategies along with gaming competitions and rewards.

Concluding, companies leveraging XR must consider how they connect with their audiences. The quality of a firm’s customer journey must meet not only the needs of shoppers, but the vision of companies.



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