Firstly, why augmented reality for retail?
Neuroscience research has shown how impactful AR can be as a tool for engagement, demonstrating a:
- 95% Increase in visual attention
- 70% Uplift in memory encoding
- 45% Higher attention rate than TV or online
Various studies have also demonstrated that immersive technologies are no longer unfamiliar to consumers, they are in fact desirable.
- 55% of consumers want to be able to point their phone at any object and receive information about it, rising to 74% amongst those who have already experienced AR (Neuro Insights)
- According to a Nielsen global survey from 2019, consumers listed augmented and virtual reality as the top technologies they’re seeking to assist them in their daily lives (Harvard Business Review)
- 42% Assessing product features and capabilities 42% Experiencing products before purchasing (Accenture)
We're coming to the end of a foundational decade for augmented reality, which has seen the creation of the hardware, software, tools and distribution channels that make AR viable, robust and affordable for the mass market.
Now, we're heading into a transformational five years for retail as thought-leading brands are increasingly reaping the benefits from the increased engagement, dwell times, memory recall and sales success that augmented reality for retail affords.
The growing adoption of AR by retail brands has been facilitated by several factors, including not only the growing data surrounding the success of AR but also the upheaval of the past 18 months when COVID increased the world's awareness of QR codes and demand for contactless retail.
This digital transformation undoubtedly means innovation within the eCommerce space, with the rapid adoption of virtual try-on and 3D product visualization, but it doesn't mark the death of the high street and bricks-and-mortar retail.
"Augmented reality for retail is about a context shift and a new way to think about the use of space - be that at home, in-store, or on the go."
It requires a new way of thinking about how your brand and business should look, feel and behave in this new dimension. The goal is not just to provide entertainment, but also personalised and contextually relevant information to your end-users as a utility.
5 key opportunities for marketers
If you are looking to leverage augmented reality in this new digital revolution there are 5 key opportunities you should consider:
1. Augmenting your shopper marketing promotion
How your customers' smartphones can be used effectively to promote your campaigns, increasing engagement and boosting market share in terms of time spent interacting with your brand and products and driving repeat visits.
2. Virtual product visualisation and try-on
AR allows you to not only enable customers to try on your products at home or place them in their real-world environments but also gives you the opportunity to provide them with even more information that will influence your conversion rates both in-store and online.
3. Creating digital real estate in-store
Both the idea that AR allows retail stores to become a destination rather than just part of the buyer journey and that virtual space is limitless. Creating interactive experiences that are connected to all static, passive in-store materials means that they can be easily updated and refreshed over time increasing engagement, giving your customers a reason to return time and time again.
4. Rewards schemes, redemption and collectibles
Taking the existing popularity of digital rewards schemes, that are engaging and favourable from a sustainability and CSR standpoint to the next level. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the increasing value placed on how we behave online. This increased value has had an impact on the concept of virtual goods and the value they now hold - Gucci's virtual 25 sneaker being a perfect example. Opening up new and interesting opportunities that can be leveraged with AR technology.
5. Digital twins, avatars and the retail metaverse
We're increasingly living in a world where we have a digital twin: we have our real selves and our digital personas that exist in social media and online.
As we increasingly move into a digital-first world for retail and shopper experience, we believe that the avatar is another step in the journey for reimagining the loyalty experience for customers making it even more personalised and gives retailers and brand owners another way to lead the market in innovation and customer experience.
AR drives attention, engagement, conversion and sales success. It creates direct conversations with consumers and it provides better measurement and analytics.
The camera and spatial computing are enabling richer, more immersive experiences for brands and end-users. This trend is only going to accelerate as we move from mobile devices to headsets and glasses of the future over the next decade.
Make no mistake, if you don't have a camera strategy and aren't considering how your brand and business can take advantage of this new augmented superpower, you're going to be falling behind in the new 'space race' of spatial computing and storytelling.