Is Augmented Reality the Next Addition to Omnichannel?
Last month at the Shop.org conference solution providers showcased some of the newest tech in the business. Among the many exciting technologies, augmented reality has some of the most practical implications that will come to affect how retailers structure their business operations. Augmented reality is defined by Merriam Webster as, “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.”
Since augmented reality creates a platform which merges the real world with virtual reality, it can be used by retail companies to help customers visualize how a product will look in their makeup arsenal or wardrobe. AR can also be used in retail for everything from showcasing different makeup looks to helping customers find products in a store.
Here’s how augmented reality is already being used, and how it will be used to enhance the customer experience in the near future.
Where AR Is Already Happening:
The biggest names in technology including Apple, Microsoft, Google and IBM are all investing heavily into augmented reality this year. While some brands are opting to sponsor branded Snapchat geofilters to give customers a firsthand experience with their company, other companies such as Lowe’s are using AR in-store to help customers find the right product. According to Kyle Nel of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, they have, “created a more seamless experience using breakthrough technology so customers can save time shopping and focus more on their project.” Kyle Nel has it right: retail technology should always come back to helping the customer for whom it was devised.
Augmented Reality in Beauty:
In addition to innovations in-store and on Snapchat, brands with in-app augmented reality are chomping at the bit to beat one another out with their in app technology. Beauty megastores Ulta and Sephora, for instance, are constantly making headlines as they compete to capture the consumer dollar by revamping and adding new options to their in-app “virtual makeover” platforms.
Visualize Outfits Before They Buy:
App and software developers are catching on to retail customers’ desire to try on items virtually. Neiman Marcus and Gap are leveraging virtual fitting rooms, not unlike a full-scale version of Cher’s famous virtual closet in the 90’s hit film “Clueless.” Multiple retail software companies at Shop.org were built around the concept of leveraging in-store platforms with augmented reality to facilitate the shopping journey for their fashion customers. Strypes Co, for instance, enables retailers to collaborate with their customers to create personalized clothing designs to suit their personal tastes.
Furniture and Fashion to Scale:
Shop.org featured footwear tech company Invertex that can be used to give a customer their customized fit in shoe size and provide product recommendations based on that exact size, taking into account sizing variances with different brands. Another key benefit of augmented reality is its ability to be used to show products to scale both in fashion and in home. Scalable product visualization platform Everthread will decrease returns and increase customer satisfaction for furniture retailers by showing customers how products will look in different rooms in their home.
However an individual company chooses to implement augmented reality tech into their website or in-store experience, there’s no denying that AR platforms will soon reshape the retail landscape as we know it.