“Can I help you?”: Augmented reality is the new, best way to improve your customers online retail experience.
Augmented Reality (AR) creates amazing effects for the entertainment business, but retailers are learning that it’s also a fantastic tool to extend a retail experience. In the pandemic age customers may choose or be forced to avoid bricks-and-mortar stores entirely. With sales moving online, AR can help recreate the customer service support clientele would normally receive instore. Many e-commerce sites are starting to catch on and it is estimated that the AR market size will grow to $209.2 Billion (USD) by 2022. (Source: imda.gov.sg)
Here are just five of the many frequently asked customer questions that AR can answer…
Will it work in my house?
Many retail AR apps allow customers a preview of how an item will look in a space in their home: a chair, for example, can be viewed in 3D in its new imagined place by the fire. Home Depot, Target, Ikea and Wayfair all have AR apps to overlay merchandise from the store into rooms in your house. Some apps, like Ikea’s, can measure a photographed space and then recommend IKEA items that will fit into it. AR can also be of assistance in décor decisions, by projecting paint and wallpaper onto walls in a photographed room. Houzz, the online home inspiration hub for connecting homeowners with designers, architects, etc., has proven this trend to be so successful they reported 11 times conversion rate using their AR enabled commerce app. (Source: cnbc.com)
How do you use it?
Product demonstrations are easy and painless with AR. Assembly requirements can be taught, or multiple-step processes on machines can be easily shown without anyone having to break a sweat. Examples include making coffee in an espresso machine, emptying vacuums, using kitchen appliances or barbecues. Toyota also has an app to demonstrate all the features of their cars. Alternatively, AR can be used to simulate an in-person tutorial by live-streaming a 3D-rendered expert. Live-streaming a 3D expert and combining it with other 3D visual aids can improve retention and recall among consumers.
Will it look good on me?
Augmented reality is the perfect partner for the world of beauty and fashion. It allows customers to try on multiple colours, sizes and looks without the mess or risks of a dressing rooms, discarded clothes or tester products. Many fashion brands like Timberland and Kohl’s have created virtual fitting rooms, where customers can see images of their face in a similar-sized body and in many different outfits. Beauty companies like Sephora can show customers virtually how make-up can look on their faces. The Warby Parker app allows customers to try on virtual glasses and Kendra Scott makes it easy for customers see themselves wearing different styles of earrings and jewelry.
Where does it come from?
Product package designs or QR codes can deliver AR experiences that tell the story behind the product: where it comes from or how it’s made. A phone can access the story of Herbal Essences Bio Renew shampoo and the origin of all the ingredients that went into the product. Treasury Wines Estates, an Australian wine company, created AR labels through an app that tells the history of the vineyard, and brings to life the care and craft that contributed the tasting notes of their wines.
Will my friends like it?
Shopping with our friends has been curtailed with COVID and is an experience that many of us sorely miss. Levi’s, Topshop, Zara and Sephora all engage with a digital tool called Squadded, an online co-watching video app. Once installed, you can shop sites and create shopping parties with your friends: each party goer selects items, polls their friends about what they prefer, and compares the trending party favourites.
According the Harvard Business Review, Shopify released new data that shows e-commerce experiences that included AR grew ‘add to cart’ conversions by 94%”. Perhaps Augmented Reality is the next thing to help strengthen your retail business online and will help differentiate it long past the days of the pandemic.