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BW Businessworld

Augmented Reality: A Treasure Trove For The Retail Industry

Let us look at how retail brands can leverage the true potential of AR in the industry today

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Augmented Reality (AR) in the retail industry was initially thought of as a useful but far-fetched solution. However, today, with increasing research, it is being discussed as a strategy to be implemented as soon as possible. In fact, about 75% consumers expect retailers to offer an AR experience today. According to ResearchAndMarkets, the AR in retail market is expected to rise from $1.15 billion in 2018 to $7.95 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 47.1%. This growth is truly exponential and fuelled by digital shopping experiences, rising smartphone penetration, and growing adoption of connected devices along with development in AR technology. Let us look at how retail brands can leverage the true potential of AR in the industry today.

Augmented 3D products 
There are several introverted customers who shy away from trying on products in brick and mortar stores, and brands are using AR to effectively overcome this challenge. AR apps assist customers to virtually try on products such as apparel, jewellery, shoes, etc. Certain brands have used AR apps to facilitate over 30,000 user interactions with products within the app.[1] Such options enable brands to appeal to larger demographics by creating customized and engaging customer experiences.

3D products at home
In-store experience do not allow customers to visualize how certain products would fit with the décor of their homes. AR helps users to do this even before the actual purchase happens. AR cab help in deciding on products from a vast range that match the existing furniture, lighting, objects, and other aesthetics of the customer’s home. The technology is able to decipher such elements of a physical space to provide a realistic impression in real life. 

In-store information 
About 60% shoppers today search for product information and prices on their mobile phones in brick-and-mortar stores. AR helps customers by scanning products in stores and providing product information such as customer reviews, color options, pricing etc. all within one interface. App users can also watch videos of models trying on the products, or even share the information to friends. 

Virtual fitting rooms 
Busy shopping seasons can often be a deterrence to customers in the form of long lines for fitting rooms. There are occasions when shoppers buy items, try it at home, and are then forced to return the product if they are unsatisfied with it; all because the line for the fitting room was too long. On other occasions, they decide that the item isn’t worth the hassle. 

AR’s kinetic motion sensing technology helps customer to create visual fitting rooms within stores. Customers simply have to stand in front of the camera and observe how the clothes suit their body types and features without having to physically try them on. They are superimposed on the existing apparel donned by a customer and it appears as if they are wearing the store item. 

Brand awareness
The retail brands willing to invest in AR at the moment are all known about among target audiences. For instance, IKEA’s use of AR has not only been well documented but also well received across the world. Such word-of-mouth marketing helps brands engage new and old customers alike because of the novelty factor.

In conclusion 
AR in the retail industry is and will continue to be an indelible success. The brands that have already implemented the technology across the world have witnessed a growth in customer experience resulting in enhanced growth. It is also a tried and tested approach in successfully enhancing shopping experience among customers. Retail brands willing to invest in the relatively novel technology are bound to reap dividends. However, at the same time, it would be wise to integrate the technology as soon as possible to churn increased engagement before it becomes the new normal.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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augmented reality

Chaitanya Hiremath

The author is an Indian origin entrepreneur and the founder of Scanta, a venture which aims to disrupt the way people live, learn and communicate with the help of augmented reality and machine learning.

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