Augmented Reality is Transforming Retail!

Augmented Reality is Transforming Retail!

By: Retail CIO Outlook | Thursday, September 10, 2020

The integration of AR technology will enable retailers to enhance customer experience and stand out in the retail landscape.

FREMONT, CA – The proliferation of technology is transforming the retail sector, introducing new capabilities, and revolutionizing the shopping experience of consumers. The incorporation of augmented reality (AR), combined with virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), is set to revolutionize and dominate the retail sector.

Although popular belief leads to the conclusion that eCommerce is taking over, research shows that approximately 20 percent of the consumers stick to online shopping, whereas over 70 percent prefer leveraging multiple channels for shopping. It reveals that shoppers are willing to switch channels depending on experience and needs.

To attract modern customers, it is imperative for retailers to enhance customer experience by blending digital and in-store retail experience. Tech-savvy retailers across the world are implementing AR technology to transform their stores into futuristic shopping centers. AR is revolutionizing shopping, providing customers with the interactive experience of real-world ecosystems through computer-generated perpetual data.

The popularity of emerging technology in the retail sector has led to the inception of smart mirrors, also called intelligent displays or digital mirrors. The devices utilize AI, AR, and gesture recognition technology to superpose clothing on the image of consumers, eliminating the need for fitting rooms.

The AR-powered smart mirrors will enable consumers to try on different outfits in a matter of seconds, including multiple combinations, thus saving hours. The mirrors are also capable of sharing images with connected devices, including smartphones, enabling people to post their pictures on social media if they wish.

AR technology has enabled consumers to try on different products without buying them. In some cases, they can simply sit at home and try different combinations of products based on sizes and colors. If they are satisfied with the selection, they can have the product delivered to their doorstep. It not only offers the convenience of online shopping but also provides an opportunity to interact with the product physically.

By incorporating AR-technology, retailers can redirect in-store staff to other tasks. AR devices can be used to cater to the needs of customers, eliminating the need for in-store assistance. Retail stores can also minimize the costs of shipping and storing large inventory by using AR apps to serve the customers.

Large enterprises are already leveraging AR technology to offer novel and innovative experiences to their customers. But, SMBs are hesitating to incorporate the technology, and the cost of implementation is one impacting factor. However, the basic AR applications such as virtual tours and object recognition are not highly-priced and can be afforded by SMBs. While large enterprises often have separate departments focusing on AR development, SMBs can collaborate with developers and vendors to build economic AR applications for their stores.

By utilizing the basic functionalities of AR technology in a creative manner, SMBs can successfully enhance the consumer experience. The integration of object recognition technology will enable consumers to click images of their preferred clothing and find similar options within the store. It allows retailers to offer high-value experiences to their consumers at a low cost.

Although AR applications require higher investment when compared to other offerings, it will result in high ROI. The emerging technology will not only make the business stand out in the retail landscape but will also attract new customers. If the businesses utilize e-commerce application, the presence of an AR component will incentivize users to prioritize it over others.

The consolidation of AI, VR, and AR into a single product will enable consumers to virtually try on different products, including clothing, eyewear, footwear, accessories, and make-up, eliminating the need for consumers to go through the inconvenience of trying on the products in real-time.

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