With ongoing advancements in visual technology, businesses are constantly looking for new and innovative methods to promote their brand as well as create engaging experiences for customers and enhance the overall experience of stakeholders. With advancements in smart phone technology, augmented reality (AR) is now more accessible than ever to the public, allowing many businesses and brands to develop immersive and captivating content. One industry that has greatly benefitted from utilising augmented reality is the retail sector, which has now begun to use this innovative technology to promote products and services, increase brand awareness, and enhance the customer journey.
In this blog, we explore 5 different ways in which businesses operating in the retail industry have utilised augmented reality.
…but before we dive in, we should probably give a brief explanation as to what augmented reality technology is!
What is Augmented Reality?
In short, augmented reality (AR) is a technology that blends real-world elements with virtual ones. By using a virtual headset, or smart phone device, AR uses cameras and sensor technology to superimpose digital information (such as sounds, images and text) on top of the real world we see. With advancements in smart phone and camera technology, AR has now become incredibly easy to access for everybody and has subsequently allowed many businesses to develop immersive and captivating virtual content.
For example, you may have seen AR used on social media apps such as Instagram and Twitter to add filters and effects on top of photographs and film footage. AR has also become increasingly popular in the world of gaming, as game developers have utilised smartphone technology to allow players to blend a gaming experience in a real-world setting. The most popular example of this is ‘Pokémon Go’, which allows players to locate, capture, train, and battle virtual Pokémon in the player’s real-world location.
As you can see, there are so many practical ways in which people may have already experienced AR via their smart phone device. However, this incredible technology has also been utilised in a wide variety of different ways within the retail sector and radically transform the industry. Here are 5 different examples!
1. In-Store Navigation
Don’t you just hate it when you’re lost in a huge supermarket, and you can’t find a particular product? Well, with augmented reality, customers can easily navigate around a large retail space and easily find what they are looking for! This approach has already been adopted by large retailers in America such as Walgreens and Lowes. With this, retailers can help customers to easily navigate around larger areas and make the overall purchasing process far more efficient and less time consuming.
2. Virtual Product Testing
One essential part of the purchasing journey within the retail industry is allowing customers to test and sample products in-store. With this, many retailers have now begun to utilise augmented reality technology to allow customers to have an engaging virtual hands-on experience with products.
One way in which this has been applied is through the use of virtual mirrors which utilise augmented reality technology allowing customers to virtually try on clothing products. Here, customers stand in front of a large mirror sized screen and can see an overlay of how various clothing products would look in a variety of different sizes, colours, and styles.
Some virtual mirrors also allow customers to order products directly from the screen, or even capture and share photographs. Clothing brands such as Timberland, Topshop, and Uniqlo have already begun implementing virtual mirrors across retail stores worldwide.
3. Preview Placement
In addition to applying augmented reality technology in-store, some brands have also utilised this technology to allow customers to virtually place true-to-scale 3D models of products within their very own living space.
So far, brands such as IKEA, Apple, DFS and Amazon have begun to embrace AR preview placement on mobile websites and apps. Using this approach can allow customers to envision how different products would look within their homes, without ever having to leave their house.
4. Enhanced Product Information
As well as enhancing the customer purchasing journey, augmented reality can also continue to provide user benefits post-purchase. For example, augmented reality is an incredibly effective tool which can be used for delivering information in an engaging and efficient way. With this, brands can utilise AR technology to allow users to access further information by simply pointing their smartphone camera at a product. Doing this can allow users to access practical information such as user manuals, product demonstrations and other multimedia elements.
An example of this can be seen in the video below, where our team at Eon Visual Media helped healthcare brand Welland Medical Ltd to develop an engaging augmented reality experience to help provide further product information for their stoma and ostomy care products.
5. User Generated Content
Another practical use of augmented reality within the retail industry is through the promotion and marketing of user generated content. According to Stackla, “88% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands, they like and support” and that “83% of consumers believe retailers need to provide more authentic shopping experiences to customers like them”. With this, some brands have begun creating engaging augmented reality experiences which are designed to offer a fun, interactive and sharable customer experience.
Many of these augmented experiences are accessed through augmented reality filters commonly used on social media platforms including Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. By allowing users to create and share these interactive and engaging experiences, this can help retail businesses to effectively promote their brand, products, and services to their target audience.
An example of this can be seen in the GIF below where sunglasses brand Ray-Ban have created an augmented reality filter on Instagram where users can try on a 3D model of their various sunglasses and glasses with added visual effects in the background.
Another example of a branded augmented reality filter can be seen in our case study here. Back in 2021, our development team at Eon Visual Media created two engaging augmented reality filters to help printing company Springfield Solutions promote their cosmetics brand BLOOM.
As you can see, there are so many ways in which retail brands can implement augmented reality into their business. Additionally, with the Metaverse on the horizon, we firmly believe that augmented reality will soon become an essential part of every marketing mix.
With this, our friendly team at Eon Visual Media can collaborate with you to develop a highly interactive and engaging augmented reality experience to help promote your brand, products, and services. For over 10 years, our team of experts have helped to develop apps for some of the UK’s largest B2B and B2C businesses, turning their ideas into reliable and robust pieces of technology.
Want to find out more? Drop us a message, and we would love to chat to you about your idea!