We’ve been expecting augmented and mixed reality to revolutionise our shopping experiences for well over a decade now. While there is some AR around, the key promises of how augmentation can help the customer are still very topical for the retail industry. Augmentation is about adding dynamic and interactive digital elements to real-life views. These elements can be viewed through mobile devices, smart glasses or even holographic displays. Voice assistance in the cityscape and store are of interest, too. The boundaries between digital and real worlds are dissolving. AR can really make a difference to the customer when used for something other than mindless advertising. It can help them find products that fit their dietary, ethical, economic or lifestyle needs. It allows them to “unbox products” in the store, examine the product’s journey to the shop and really grasp what it’s made of. In addition to enriching the brick and mortar stores, augmentation helps online customers try out things at home: makeup, jewellery, accessories, and clothes, and to examine how textiles, objects and furniture would fit in their home. Augmentation is far too good an idea to waste on advertising and attention-seeking. It’s an important opportunity to create services that make shopping more educational, entertaining and efficient. Through a smartphone or an AR device, a digital interactive layer is added to the customer shopping journey. Online and physical shoppers are provided with a more informed, frictionless, immersive, and hyper-personalized experience.
Through a smartphone or an AR device, Augmented Reality brings a more immersive experience for shopping from home. Brands could create remotely accessible digital stores as a platform that enables instant purchases, as a hands-on ultra personalization tool that works together with 3D-visualization and interaction.
A user could, for instance, access the AR shopping platform, choose the best store that fits the users' preferences, and test a piece of furniture in their living room. Users could select the color of the product, and even design modular pieces. Consumers could also blend their own make-up or try different clothes’ combinations with simple gestures. This platform is expected to become a robust virtual branding tool as stores could become virtual meeting points, where brands become social platforms for people, or their avatars, to interact and even offer virtual merchandise for their avatars as well as the physical products.
In a brick-and-mortar building, this technological solution could gather a series of in-store interfaces and data analytics that provide dynamic shopping suggestions and assistance. People would be able to speak or type in natural language and ask where specific products are located or what services are available in a particular store. In return, they receive relevant, customized responses. It would include product reviews, examples of similar products, location of products in-store, instructions, or an option to buy online. As consumers grow more thoughtful about their consumption habits, information such as carbon print, local producers, and fair-trade could also come into play.
In that context, physical stores could pair the AR experience with other technologies. With the help of body tracking and scanning and body shape recognition, Augmented Reality mirrors would be able to superpose a selection of clothes onto the client, providing a realistic blended image from any angle. Also, voice and Facial Recognition displays would be available at the store, to communicate with customers, giving outfit suggestions, and automatically sending pictures to the customer via their online profile.
Within these AR platforms, all-time connected to the user’s account, the purchase process is exceptionally frictionless, which could also result in overspending. This technology could offer ways to avoid that by creating wealth management visualizations, as well as the individual’s financial behavior through interactive infographics on how money is being spent, translating visually key information.
Privacy is also a growing concern among consumers. As AR payment options emerge, both companies and consumers should place privacy matters at the forefront. Hacking of AR apps is a concern, mainly because these experiences are more intimate than traditional shopping methods and could track biometric data and potential conversations. Also, this could mean another level of concern with misinformation and deep fakes.
AR Retail Platform