Sunday, September 23, 2018

RETAIL NEWS

By Guest Contributor

Ecommerce
Is Being Revolutionized by Augmented Reality

Photo courtesy of Pexels



Most of what the average consumer knows about augmented reality (AR) technology probably stems from popular apps like Pokemon Go! or Snapchat. However, this innovation isn’t merely for gaming and social media. Just like on-demand app development changed the service industry, AR is poised to dramatically impact ecommerce.

Essentially, AR programs superimpose virtual elements onto a user’s surroundings. This means AR can bridge the gap between the online shopping and brick-and-mortar experience.

Major retailers have already experimented with the possibilities offered by this new tool. For example, IKEA’s AR program allows users to place virtual renderings of furniture and other large items into their immediate environments as displayed in a phone or tablet screen. This makes it easier for customers shopping online to determine if an item is worth purchasing.

However, that’s merely one example of AR changing online shopping. The following are key ways it will continue to revolutionize ecommerce in the near future.



Photo courtesy of Pexels



Blending the Best of Both Worlds

Shopping online is convenient because it gives people the chance to thoroughly research a product. They can read reviews, learn about the materials the product is made with, and compare prices. This may be why younger consumers often prefer mobile shopping over the in-store experience. However, those same surveys indicate that consumers in general prefer to buy certain items at brick-and-mortar locations. 

That’s because shopping in-person allows a customer to actually see and feel an item. For larger purchases, like furniture, this is important. 

IKEA worked around this problem by offering a digital experience that allows customers to enjoy the benefits of both ecommerce and in-store shopping.

Other retailers can follow the same strategy. This also gives them the opportunity to reach clients no matter where they are in the world. A customer no longer needs to be near a physical store to have the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. They can transform their surroundings into a virtual store instead of traveling to one.



Photo courtesy of Sephora



Designing a Valuable Experience

Retailers who want to take advantage of AR must understand that it’s more than a novelty. When planning how to use it, it’s important to prioritize offering genuine value to the customer.

For instance, Sephora’s AR app lets users “try on” various cosmetic products over selfies. If they’re planning on making a purchase online, this feature helps them better evaluate their options. On the other hand, if a user plan on making their final purchase in a brick-and-mortar location, the app can help them narrow down their shopping list ahead of time.

Retailers should also consider how they can leverage other technologies to enhance the features of an AR app. For example, consider an app that allows users to try on virtual items of clothing. It could also be equipped with an artificial intelligence program that analyzes their browsing and purchase history to offer personalized suggestions. 

Although AR may primarily impact the ecommerce shopping experience, it can even attract more customers to physical shops. Some banks are already experimenting with AR programs that help customers find branches and ATMs in unfamiliar cities. This same concept applies to shopping. If a customer is in the vicinity of a store, an AR app could alert them and provide directions to the location.


These are merely some of the ways AR will change ecommerce and shopping in general in the near future. The companies which benefit most from it will be those who explore potential uses for this technology at an early stage. Partnering with qualified AR designers is a smart place to start.


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