How your retail business can use augmented reality

retail business can use augmented reality

When Pokemon Go first launched, its phenomenal success propelled augmented reality (AR) into the mainstream. The possibilities with this emerging technology seemed limitless, and businesses were quick to start wondering how it might be effectively utilized as a marketing and sales tool. 

For retail businesses especially, the widespread application of AR felt like a matter of time. But it was also questioned how AR could move beyond simply a gimmick, and become something that would be useful and valuable for a company. 

In a post-pandemic world, many are still convinced of the value of AR to the retail market

“Using AR in retail can be exceptionally effective,” says Tim Brickle, Managing Director of 3D Walkabout, and an investor in a range of emerging technologies. “A business can use a smartphone to allow customers to ‘virtually’ try an item before buying in their existing surroundings and then connect directly to your online shop to purchase instantly.”

Here we take a look at some of the ways that your a retail business can use augmented reality. 

A shift in shopping habits

There has undoubtedly been a move from offline to online shopping as a result of the pandemic across the world. “Australians have become more mindful about where they spend money,” says Matt Wade of the Sydney Morning Herald “online purchasing, which surged during pandemic lockdowns, remains far more prevalent than before the crisis. One in four consumers surveyed by National Australia Bank said they bought items online during the last three months of 2020 which had previously been purchased in store.”

While this brings challenges, it also presents a huge opportunity for retail businesses. Companies who are willing to move with technology can make use of AR to maximise the benefits of both offline and online shopping.

Of course, making AR work within your retail business will depend on what it is that you sell – but there are multiple things that AR can help with. For example:

Visualisation for customers

AR is an extremely powerful tool in terms of helping customers visualise not just what a product looks like – but what it looks like in a specific setting. Take furniture or other home decor as an example – it can sometimes be difficult to visual how it will look within a customer’s home.

Businesses can make it possible to see their products in AR to scale in the customer’s own property. That can really help to establish whether it is the right fit or not. 

Colour matching

One interesting possibility for how a retail business can use augmented reality involves variation in colours. In some products, colours are a key factor, and how they look within the home plays a huge role in whether or not a customer makes a purchase. For example, Dulux launched their own AR app which allows users to use a smart device to see how a wall would look painted in a specific Dulux colour.

Being able to actually see how the product affects the room is a big deal and it can be the difference between someone continuing on to buy. 

Magic mirror

A common downside of online shopping is not being able to see what the items actually look like. This can be a real pain when clothes shopping – we have all experienced the disappointment of receiving an item which looked great in a specific photo on the website, but simply doesn’t have the right cut, colour or fit in reality. 

One of the key benefits of AR is the ability to use a ‘magic mirror’ where you can see exactly what you would look like in an outfit. But magic mirrors have instore applications too – for example in jewellery, make-up and salon businesses where customers can see what they would look like with a specific look. 

Final thoughts

Augmented reality has a truly wide variety of uses for retail businesses. It can be effective in everything from increasing conversions and minimising returns to promoting a better customer experience and developing brand loyalty. 

Of course, AR won’t be the right choice for every company, and it will depend on your products. But there are so many potential uses for AR, there will almost certainly be a way to positively influence your company by using it.