The impact of AR on retail and consumer experience

Updated: Oct 12, 2018

If just a few years ago, the idea of AR seemed quite far away from our day-to-day lives, modern times and technology are bringing a game changer in many sectors, retail being one of them.

According to research firm International Data Corporation, money spent on augmented reality(AR) along with virtual reality(VR), will reach $17.8 billion in 2018.

How will this impact retail and how are companies enhancing their customer experience using AR?



Consumer experience and AR.

Augmented Reality has become the new trend technology that businesses should include in their marketing strategy. While the audience becomes more and more sophisticated and demanding, adapting to the new trends is one of the best ways to ensure growth and an enhanced consumer experience.

According to a retail report by Digital Bridge:

  • 69% of 18-24-year-olds would be more loyal to a brand if it offered them access to a better technology.

  • A third of consumers would be more likely to buy a product after using mixed/augmented reality to preview the products.

  • More than half of consumers(51%) put off home improvements because they couldn’t imagine what the finished product would look like.

According to Retail Perceptions, a report that measures the influence of AR on the retail sector, the most popular items to shop for with augmented reality are: 60% furniture, 55% clothing, 39% groceries, 35% shoes.

Consumers are constantly increasing their demands when it comes to their purchasing experience and businesses have to adapt in order to appeal to their audience.



Advantages of incorporating AR into your business.

  • You can offer trials free of risk and increase your sales figures

With an AR app people can easily place a wardrobe in their rooms or they can easily visualise how a sofa or a piece of furniture would look in brown or red. The risk of product return and logistical expenses are minimised because the clients would be more certain of their choice.

  • Showcasing your products in a more attractive way

Retailers are able to showcase their products and bring them to life right in front of the customers. Through visually and interactive tools, a furniture store may offer their clients the possibility of seeing how a table would fit in their house without having the real product to display.

  • Provide personalised offers based on past behaviour

AR also makes it possible to use some personalisation strategies which are normally used when shopping online. Using insights gained from predictive analytics, retailers can use customer data and machine learning algorithms to generate a personalised offer based on past behaviour and patterns analysed in customers.

  • Give customers information about the product

This is one of the most obvious applications of AR since people already use their phones to compare products when shopping. However, through AR this process can become much smoother and can deeply enhance the customer experience. A good representation is the AR app developed by IBM, through which consumers compare prices by pointing their camera phones at a shelf. It can even rank and highlight options based on the customer input.

  • Offer customers UX-customisable content that matches the audience needs

In apparel, accessories, cosmetics and even furniture, AR can allow the clients to virtually try the products and see if they would fit their criteria without interacting with any real product. This way, they can preview a huge selection of products in a relatively short time and get the needed help when it comes to making the right purchase.


Retailers leading the way in AR.

AR has definitely caught the attention of both the public and the retailers and is predicted to attract 1 billion users by the end of 2020. Considering the large potential for social media and e-commerce, we are not surprised to hear that over a quarter of companies are trying to introduce AR into their marketing campaigns.

Here are some of the most popular brands who managed to attract the public eye with the customer experience they provided through AR interaction:


IKEA Place App

Ikea is one of the early adopters of the AR technology and the company has worked with Apple’s ARKit in order to create the Ikea Place App which allows shoppers to virtually visualise furniture in their own home with options to change the look, colour, size and more. Providing a 98% accuracy, IKEA made sure to offer their clients the certainty they needed when it came to choosing the right product.

American Apparel

Retailer American Apparel has been using an AR app to offer their clients the possibility of seeing the items in different colours and match them as part of their outfit. Customers can also check reviews for the products and have the option to place orders or gift the items to friends.


Dulux Visualizer

Another home interior app, Dulux Visualiser uses AR in a highly effective way - to see what your walls would look like painted in a different colour. Like most AR apps, it works with your phone camera to detect wall edges and surfaces, letting users select the specific area that should be virtually painted.



Final thoughts

As shoppers already enjoy the full on experience from the use of AR in store and apps, the opportunities are not fully explored yet. There are still a lot of fields where AR could improve the quality of purchase experience.

The added interactivity, creativeness and engagement offered by augmented reality can provide a unique way of showcasing and presenting products, bringing people one step closer to satisfying their needs in a much more easier, interactive manner.

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