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Enhancing Omnichannel Retail Strategy Using Augmented Reality (AR)

Who can deny that modern-day shopping got more exciting with Augmented Reality! AR has added immense value to a customer’s sales journey by being the closest replication of the in-store shopping experience at the comfort of one’s home. In 2021, augmented reality will help high-intent shoppers make informed choices online, assuring them that a visit to a physical store is not needed. 

A great example to consider here, IKEA allows you to digitally place 3D models in your own home space. Now you can experience IKEA like never before using AR and IKEA's smart home solutions. You can furnish a room with one tap or use your camera to find the perfect product. 

The detail and information AR can provide is immense. AR blurs the lines between consideration and decision making by educating, informing, and creating an innate need for the product by personalising the buying process.

Customer-centricity is the core focus of any omnichannel strategy. Implementing AR enables you to present your brand as a customer-centric brand. Customers understand and appreciate the effort you’ve taken to build the tech to support their experience and will end rewarding your efforts by making a purchase.

A global survey states that 64% of the customers listed AR as the leading technology to assist, amplify, and augment their daily lives. The same 51% of respondents said they are willing to use this technology to assess products before buying.

The survey findings are a wake-up call for small, medium, and large retail businesses to effectively utilize AR technology for attracting more customers and creating a fun and easy shopping experience for them.

Take a look at some interesting statistics showing how Augmented Reality technology has trended popularly in 2020-2021:

For businesses

  • Global spending on AR/VR was $18.8 billion worldwide.
  • 1 billion people are using AR apps
  • Advertisers know that AR sells as 67% of advertising agencies make use of AR
  • Businesses get 40% higher conversion rates with AR
  • 16% of retailers use AR for the sales phase

For consumers

  • Over 100 million consumers used AR to shop in 2020
  • 40% of customers say that they would pay more for a product that they could customize in AR
  • 61% of consumers say that they prefer retailers with AR experiences
  • 71% of consumers say that they would shop more often if they used AR

It shows that the customers and the retail business are making headway to using AR technology in everyday life.

How can Augmented Reality (AR) help retailers?

In the last five years, there has been an explosion of retailers who have found success in online retail business expansion. As retailers have started creating a seamless experience between online and offline channels, Augmented Reality has begun playing a critical role in attracting buyers through both channels.

Flipkart's recently launched 3D shopping feature enables shoppers to visualize furniture in their home setting using Augmented Reality on their smartphone. The e-commerce giant is streamlining the shopping experience for a new sofa or center table for its customers by using Augmented Reality to demonstrate where they can put the furniture and how it will look in their home.

Now a Flipkart customer can use AR to accurately see: 

  1. Fit: How precisely a piece of furniture fits into their living area
  2. Form: Rotate the product 360 degrees to get a full view of it
  3. Finish: Enlarge the image to see the material up close, as one could do in a physical store

How AR can help win more customers in 2021?

Visualize products and features

Before a buyer can proceed with shopping, they must grasp & visualize the product's functioning and performance to purchase confidently. Retail merchants have addressed this issue by making demos or instructional videos to educate the customers and solve product queries. 

Augmented Reality takes this concept a notch higher by immediately bringing a product to life in front of the customer's eyes using stunning, life-like 3D holograms. 

Magic Mirror is a terrific AR retail experience that uses a camera and a mirrored television screen. It creates a virtual fitting room using the augmented reality software. The screen works as a mirror, reflecting the consumer digitally while displaying video feeds from different angles. 

The customer has several options to try cosmetics, purses, caps, and jewellery. It enables them to change and try different colors of an outfit in just a click.. It allows shoppers to quickly find the items that suit them most and make shopping decisions rapidly.

Greater interaction in the buying process

Although online shopping gives a distinctive experience to the customer by offering a plethora of styles in different sizes, colours, and shapes in a single view, it doesn't offer an interactive buying process.

Augmented Reality (AR) addresses this gap effectively. The customer can install and use AR-powered app in easy steps:

  • Download the app from the Play Store
  • Open the app & explore its public gallery for 3D models of merchandise, home, electronics.
  • Select the product & the app turns on the camera to find a surface for the product.
  • The app places the selected product on the chosen surface
  • Users get a 360-degree look & feel of the product without having the product in their hands

 Example: Sephora Virtual Artist, an Augmented Reality tool, enables shoppers to try on thousands of lipstick colors, eyeshadow, false lashes, and various other makeup products. 

Additionally, it enables users to view beauty instructions on their faces to learn how to attain specific styles. Another exciting feature called Color Match leverages Artificial Intelligence to assist clients in finding the optimal colour hue for their skin tone based on an uploaded photo. 

Although it has been overwhelming for the customers to come to a store, they have been reluctant to shop online for certain categories of products, like make up. Thanks to AR, such an application makes it easy for them to confidently shop for their favorite shades from the comfort of their home.

Lower return rates

Businesses do not want their merchandise back to the warehouse. However, returns are nearly impossible to avoid in a retail channel that does not allow consumers to try things before purchasing. Research estimates that 30% of the ordered products are returned compared to 8.89% in brick-and-mortar stores.

Top reasons why consumers returned products:

  • 23% received wrong items
  • 22% received products that looked different
  • 20% received damaged products

 Augmented Reality technology helps retailers significantly reduce the 22% of returns of products that look different by providing an engaging in life-like "try-before-you-buy" digital experience. The 3D visualizations give complete freedom to shoppers to see how the products look and feel before committing to their purchase, reducing the confusion to order multiple items in search of the right product. It helps counter product returns in e-commerce to a much greater extent.

Conclusion

The emergence of Augmented Reality technology redefines how retailers are approaching their omnichannel strategies. The technology allows retailers to adequately meet the bottom line of their omnichannel strategy to enhance consumer experience. It also improves the conversion rate, and significantly reduces the product return rate.

By creating a unique and memorable experience for their customers, retailers can get an increased word-of-mouth marketing for their retail brand. Retailers can also use the Augmented Reality app to promote sales and special offers, encouraging customers to try new products and generate new sales leads.

Explore how you can implement AR in your retail business miles ahead and give your customers an immersive AR experience with Augmented Reality technology. Connect with us and discover a platform for your business to have a seamless try-on experience. Do not forget to checkout our easy self-serve AR solution for beauty, powered by Fynd, on glamar.io  


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