Augmented Reality, often abbreviated to AR, is a combination of real and computer-generated worlds. The process involves adding extra-layers of digital information to a real-life image to enhance the viewing experience through the use of sound, images and text. As technology advances, Augmented Reality is slowly becoming more and more commonplace in the physical retail and digital marketing world, and this blog will tell you exactly how the use of Augmented Reality could completely transform your online retail store.
As a retail brand in the ecommerce space, you may have noticed how Augmented Reality has begun to shake up the marketplace. With software developers continuing to refine AR applications, the line that once separated virtual and real-life is becoming increasingly blurred. And you can use this to your advantage. It’s becoming more and more obvious that retail businesses who are using AR are likely to offer a better customer experience to those who don’t. By applying Augmented Reality to their potential customer’s shopping experience, retail brands are succeeding in moving users further down the sales funnel – which we’ll get to in this blog. Its ability to provide a ‘try before you buy’ experience instils a confidence that they are making the right purchase into the consumer and can also work to reduce returns rate as the customer has technically already tried the product on, albeit virtually. Visualising products in real-time from the comfort of their own homes is an attractive prospect for a lot of online consumers, especially in a post-COVID world. So, it’s time to give the people what they want.
As well as reducing returns rate and encouraging sales from both new and returning customers, Augmented Reality can also be a fantastic way to shout about your business through digital marketing efforts such as brand awareness activities. By using Augmented Reality, you can really work outside the box when it comes to innovative press coverage and engaging social media posts. Whilst it is fantastic for user experience and an increased conversion rate, it’s also a really great way to create a buzz around your brand. From ads to social posts, by making your materials more interactive and engaging, shoppers are going to remember you.
As mentioned above, providing the try before you buy experience is one of Augmented Reality’s most appealing factors. When your site allows customers to try on products virtually, it eliminates a need to visit a store and generally makes the overall buying experience a lot quicker and easier, with most people more willing to spend money on things they have ‘tested’ on themselves first, especially if it’s make-up accessories or clothing. L’Oréal has recently invested in ModiFace, an Augmented Reality system that enables you to try shades and styles of make-up, both online and instore, before you commit to buying the product. ModiFace works seamlessly as a smartphone app, with users now able to simply hold their smartphone to their face and experiment with products. With a few simple taps, you can see exactly how a certain shade of foundation, colour of lipstick or pigment of eyeshadow will look with your complexion.
As well as the fashion and beauty sectors, furniture and homeware retailers are also using Augmented Reality to allow a consumer to see how a certain piece of furniture may sit in their home, with DFS now allowing customers to visualise their chosen sofa in their chosen home space, before they commit to making what can often be a major purchase, without heading into store first. (Image: DFS.co.uk)
One of the things that prevents people from buying clothing online is the fact that it might not fit when it arrives. Returning an item is not only an inconvenience for the customer but can also cost a retail company massively. In order to eliminate the lingering inefficiency of not being able to try clothes on, online, Augmented Reality has now appeared in the form of virtual fitting rooms. Stores with the virtual fitting room function on their apps, will allow users to try the item on their own body shape, before buying. Of course, this is a far cry from actually physically wearing the item inside an actual store fitting room, but still better than consumers taking a stab in the dark and then receiving an item that resembles nothing like what they expected. As well as this, some customers hate to try on in store and may see this as a better option and with the current Coronavirus crisis, it could be a while before fitting rooms are available to customers again. Virtual fitting rooms are still a work in progress and still have a long way to go but are something that are definitely worth considering if you’re thinking of incorporating AR into your retail store’s online experience.
(LKBennett.com virtual fitting room)
As well as improving a user’s retail shopping experience, Augmented Reality can boost consumer relationships with a brand and give retailers even more of an opportunity to interact with their target audience. According to Crunchbase, 71% of consumers said they would shop with an online retailer more frequently if they offered AR to their customers, with 61% choosing a retailer that does off the Augmented Reality experience over one that doesn’t. It’s clear that the benefits of Augmented Reality and the opportunities that it can offer to ecommerce brands cannot be overstated. By offering a more immersive experience for your customers, Augmented Reality is essentially reducing the time it takes to make a purchase and therefore increasing conversion rates. According the The Drum, L’Oreal have recently revealed that although in the early stages, when its marketers have put the augmented reality feature on their website, they have recorded engagement rate doubling and CVR tripling. Whilst Augmented Reality is set to take hold in 2022, if you want to get ahead of the market (and stand up against your competitors!) you can begin leveraging this new technology to your advantage now! For more information about how Augmented Reality can completely transform your online store, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experts at Hitsearch, today.