Augmented Reality in the Retail Space
  by April Rae Mallord, Director of Marketing at Movista

What do they really mean when they say “Augmented Reality”?

Okay, so I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Augmented Reality” being thrown around recently just like you’ve probably heard “Big Data” and “The Internet of Things”. While all of these emerging trends will have a big impact on retail, nothing will change it quite as tangibly as Augmented Reality – literally – so you better listen up!

According to Mashable, “Augmented Reality is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.”

Basically… Augmented Reality is a catchall term for anything we do to use technology to make an experience better. Think the Hitchhiking Ghosts in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland or Princess Leia’s hologram in the Star Wars movies. Neither experience would be quite the same without them, right?

Hat tip to GeekTyrant

Although Augmented Reality has been present for quite some time it has unfortunately remained within the realm of novelty. But there is so much more we can do with it! Augmented Reality is not just a cool trick; it is a platform, a tool. It allows you to manipulate the “real world” around you using a device and your fingertips.

Thanks to new advancements in technology such as mobile smart devices and wearable technology, Augmented Reality can now be used to change the way we make decisions, interact, live and even shop!

Augmented Retail-ality: Updating the Retail Experience

While Augmented Reality will change many aspects of our lives in the next few years, the arena in which it is already starting to emerge is…you guessed it – Retail!

It only makes sense that Augmented Reality will disrupt the retail space – you can’t even spell “reality” without “retail” – which is why I will now refer to Augmented Reality used in Retail as “Augmented Retail-ality”.

Augmented Retail-ality will change the way consumers shop as well as the way retailers communicate with shoppers. Retailers will be able to place their product and product information directly in front of shoppers – in their hand or even their home – without the shopper ever having to physically touch it. Shoppers will be able to test drive, try on, and receive more information about products they are considering purchasing.

With Augmented Retail-ality shoppers can easily scan rows of products for deals by holding up their smart devices or they can instantly visualize what they would look like with a brand new outfit on from the comfort of their home. Everything the shopper needs to make a quick and smart purchase decision will be available to her no matter where she is. The shopper will be able to try out different products, shapes, colors, sizes, without actually ever touching anything but their personal device.

To reach shoppers like never before with Augmented Retail-ality all a retailer needs is software, access to shoppers’ smart devices and an imagination. According to eMarketer, 4.55 billion people worldwide will have used a mobile phone by the end of 2014, so jumping on the Augmented train should be a no-brainer! Furthermore, “4 in every 5 smartphones users accessed retail content on their device” in one month in 2012 (comScore, Inc.).

Check out these stats on mobile shoppers -> in 2012, “Amazon Sites led as the top retailer with an audience of 49.6 million visitors, while multi-channel retailers including Apple (17.7 million visitors), Wal-Mart (16.3 million visitors), Target (10 million visitors) and Best Buy (7.2 million visitors) also attracted significant mobile audiences (comScore, Inc.)”.

Retailers will gain many capabilities by reaching shoppers on their devices through Augmented Retail-ality such as such as intimate shopper access and disruptive marketing techniques. These interactions will increase product and brand interactivity, encourage brand loyalty or even a brand switch, intensely influence the buying decision process, and decrease the time it takes a consumer to move from product awareness to purchase. It will also allow retailers to receive real-time information and feedback to continually perfect their products and marketing and merchandising strategies.

Augmenting Your Life – Retail Shopping in Your Living Room

How does this translate to real-life? Let me give you an example: Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer, has launched a new augmented reality catalogue. When you pair the Ikea catalogue with their app you can literally picture how furniture will look in your home before you purchase it. This makes the purchase decision process easier and pushes shoppers to buy by giving them visual insight on how their life will look after making the purchase. Online retail will most likely boom since shoppers will be able to easily visualize brands and products being a part of their lives without having to waste time driving to the store.

Shoppers will also be able to try on clothing from the comfort of their own home with Augmented Retail-ality apps such as this Virtual Fitting Room by Fitting. The shopper will be able to envision herself in any outfit from the comfort of her own home. Not only will this save her time and a trip to the store but it will probably also increase the chances of her making a purchase since she feels more comfortable in her own surroundings than in a harshly-lighted dressing room. By making her life easier with this at home luxury and instant visualization, not only will you surely gain a purchase but also a loyal customer for life.

The Fun Has Just Begun…

To learn more about Augmented Reality in Retail contact us or check out these awesome resources below.

  • Häagen-Dazs Debuts Musical Augmented-Reality App
  • 32 Augmented Reality Apps for the Classroom From edshelf
  • 10 Examples of Augmented Reality in Retail
  • How Augmented Reality Will Change the Way We Live
  • Mobile Technology Fact Sheet
  • Walgreen Tests Augmented Reality Offer in Stores