How AR has and Continues to Change Retail

24 Sep 2021

Online shopping was already rapidly accelerating in recent years, and its growth showed no signs of slowing down. According to Business Insider India, 86% of Indians have adopted online shopping at an accelerated pace across all age groups. This has changed traditional retail as we know it, with plenty of advantages for local businesses. The dependence on online shopping saw the emergence of new technologies that help retailers connect with consumers while driving their competitive edge. One of these technologies is augmented reality (AR), and it offers many exciting possibilities now and in the future.

AR allows people to interact with a real-world environment that is enhanced by computer-generated information that engages various sensory modalities: sight, sound, touch, smell, and even taste. It can make one’s experience of the digital and physical world more seamless.

How AR has Changed Retail

Retail has changed in virtually every aspect. While many retail brands have already experimented with AR technology, it wasn’t until recently that it really started to flourish and transform the industry.

AR redefined the shopping experience. One of the major contributions that AR brought to retail was an easy shopping experience. Shoppers can now interact with the goods they wish to purchase from the comfort of their homes. Case in point, in 2019, Toyota launched the Hybrid AR app to help customers become more familiar with their new model at the time since it allowed customers to interact with the car’s features.

Similar examples are seen in the clothing industry, where people can virtually try on clothes, eliminating the need for waiting and fitting rooms in physical stores. The same goes for cosmetics, as proven by Sephora’s Visual Artist app feature launched in 2016. More shoppers are afforded the convenience of doing their decision-making from the comfort of their homes, which leads to a more pleasant shopping experience overall.

AR propelled data-driven retail forward. Data-driven retail was a natural consequence of declining brick-and-mortar stores, and it is used to make AR experiences all the more effective. Stores are becoming more effective at collecting hyper-specific data from every stage of the shopping process. This leads to better, more personalized experiences and generates more shopping activity.

How AR will Shape Retail in the Future

Given how AR has changed retail through the shopping experience, digital marketing strategies, and data, it is natural to question how retail will look in the future.

AR will incorporate a gamified experience. As AR becomes more engaging, it will likely become a gamified experience. For instance, brands have partnered with apps like Snapchat and Instagram for digital try-on and unlocking digital layers in-store displays. Here, customers can interact, play, and enjoy a whole new shopping experience. Vogue Business cites data predicting that a third of Gen Z consumers will be using augmented reality (AR) to shop by 2025. Aside from that, brands like Burberry also have mobile games with AR face filters and AR characters for prizes. Audiences are looking for better ways to engage with their favorite brands, and with gamified mobile capabilities, retailers can achieve just that.

AR will promote virtual goods as commodities. Not only are experiences going virtual but commodities are also following the same trend. Virtual goods as commodities is a trend that is growing in augmented retail and digital shopping. For instance, some brands have begun to offer digital skins for characters in esports games, a huge market that is only expected to grow.

Written by Kimberly Anderson for unitear.com

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