How AR and VR is changing Retail Experience!
Technology is growing at an exceptionally quick rate. One of the biggest trend impacting retail industry today is emerging technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), with many of the biggest retailers beginning to respond and adapt to these technologies.
In the near future, customers will likely use AR and VR to explore and interact with potential products or purchases. Virtual reality, alongside augmented reality, offers retailers the opportunity to transform how they interact with the consumer. The retailers who are adapting and evolving with technology are those who will likely succeed.
Augmented reality (AR) is a cousin of virtual reality (VR). VR completely replaces the real world with the computer-generated environment, augmented reality blends the real and the virtual. A VR experience typically involves wearing a headset that completely blocks one’s view of the real world. Which is not the case with AR experience.
Digi-Capital’s new Augmented/Virtual Reality Report and deals database recorded Venture capitalists [VC] and corporate investors pouring $2.3 billion into VR/AR start-ups last year, or over 3 times the $700+ million invested in 2015. 300% investment growth in 12 months is impressive in any sector. Augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is seen by many as the next generation of disruption in the retail world, combining them with predictive analysis is changing the customer experience. Predictive analytics is seen as one of the most powerful tools retailers will use going forward.
Virtual reality has already been around for a while to help businesses visualize store layouts and potential traffic issues, but as the technology becomes more accepted, it’s becoming a greater part of testing consumer acceptance, testing different format options. Few examples of VR implementation below,
– Alibaba unveiled a VR store, at which interested shoppers are able to wear a VR headset and browse products in a virtual location. In other words, they’ll be shopping via virtual reality. Alibaba has also introduced VR PAY- a virtual reality payment system that allows virtual reality shoppers to pay for items just by nodding.
– Lowe’s created Holoroom where shoppers provide the dimensions of a room and can then see a VR mock-up of their renovation plans. Shoppers can then port the design plan to Google Cardboard and take the VR mock-up home.
– Ikea immerses users in a VR kitchen where they can walk around freely, open drawers and redecorate.
– Toyota created an Oculus Rift app to raise awareness about distracted driving among teens.
– eBay launched the “world’s first virtual reality department store” where shoppers can look through thousands of products and select items using only sight via Samsung’s Gear VR.
AR technology overlays products in the consumer’s home setting, so that they can see if it looks good or will fit or get a better sense, if it will go with pieces the consumer already owns. Few examples of AR implementation are.
– In 2016, Nintendo released Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game for smartphones Pokémon Go uses basic AR. Virtual objects are displayed in your mobile view finder to place Pokémon characters in your physical environment.
– IKEA was one of the earliest retailers to integrate AR into its product catalogue. When shopping at home for new furniture, it is difficult for customers to visualize how that new couch or coffee table in their space. AR helps bridge that divide.
– Converse was another pioneer in merging AR and retail. Converse launched an AR app in 2010. If customers wished to try a shoe, they simply needed to point the camera at their feet and the app overlays a projection of the shoe on their feet. Converse even had an ecommerce platform linked to the AR app to make purchasing easier and faster.
– In 2012, Uniqlo, a Japanese-based retail store decided to enhance the latter by deploying augmented trial rooms. This trial room consisted of a mirror with an LCD screen that lets you choose the apparel you wish to try on and then overlays different colours of the clothing to help you make the best choice possible.
– Yihaodian, China’s largest online grocery store, by using Augmented Reality, Yihaodian opened ‘virtual’ stores nationwide in parking lots, parks, and tourists spots. Customers with the Yiahaodian app could use the mobile platform to shop virtually at the designated locations.
– Bridging the gap between augmented reality in retail eCommerce and brick-and-mortar is American Apparel’s shopping assistant app. The Shopping Assistant allows users to scan products while in the store to read reviews, view related items, and see all the available colours.
Nikki Baird believes that Augmented Reality is more Shopper friendly whereas Virtual Reality is for Business. Bottom line, AR and VR both technologies are focused on consumer experience and businesses are seeing a huge potential growth in these markets. We are still in the early days of both AR and VR acceptance and usage, both in retail commerce and among consumers.