Augmented Reality Retail – Where Is The Revolution? Nowadays, keeping up with the latest technological developments is less of an option but more of a norm for retailers. See, for example, Amazon, the indisputable leader in retail innovation. Thanks to its Alexa’s ecosystem, the AI stylist, fashion garments recognition apps, Amazon Go stores, and the wholly automated storing and delivery warehouses across the world, Amazon shows that retail technology is not just possible but mandatory for the businesses of tomorrow.
AUGMENTED REALITY RETAIL – TRAINING STAFF
A new wave of innovation is ready to launch, poised to transform all retail sectors as customers’ expectations continue to grow. Zara’s investment in artificial intelligence seeking to solve its in-store stocking issues and gain deeper insights into the data that can be used in future co-creational processes is already paying back. Same, Walmart’s partnership with the Chinese company Tencent, aiming to deploy innovative tech solutions across their entire supply chain, is showing excellent results.
When it comes to consumers, experience-driven technologies such as augmented reality, are appealing to customers and brands at the same time. However, to date, augmented reality has found real usage only in beauty retailers such as Estée Lauder, which launched an innovative makeup training – via augmented and virtual reality – app, last year in December.
Similar fashion brands and beauty retailers such as Macy’s and MAC Cosmetics have also deployed augmented reality mirrors into their stores, with the aim of driving more customers to test out their products.
AUGMENTED REALITY RETAIL – CUSTOMISATION LEVEL UP
Experts agree that there is still a long way to go before augmented reality technology reaches its full potential in retail. A big part of the adoption problem lies with the fact that augmented reality is too far ahead for what most brand decision makers understand of it. Better said, their lack of seeing any practical use cases for such innovative technology is what stops them from deploying augmented reality in their retail stores.
However, augmented reality can deliver, with minimal costs, a feature that is critical to luxury retail; customisation. Such a feature is paramount to the modern luxury market and augmented reality alone can provide a new type of experiential shopping while saving brands money and consumers time.
“If I’m going to go spend 1,000,000 euro, I want to see how every single element of customisation is going to look like on my car, all in real time, before I order it. I hav to like what I see. I don’t want to see patches of leather and imagine how the seats and the dashboard are going to look like. I want to see the whole car, in the front of my eyes,” said Martine Wellman, General Manager at HR Owens Luxury Cars.
AUGMENTED REALITY RETAIL – IMPROVING EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE
Wellman also envisions a future where buyers will walk between the shop’s aisle, guided by AR to locations based on their preferences. Consumer’s preferences will be extracted from past purchases data, fed into AI algorithms which will predict potential future purchases. Outside of the beauty retail market, big retail chains are already testing augmented reality in their stores.
“Take, for example, Starbucks and its popular smartphone ordering system. Up by 11 per cent, Starbucks customer order via mobile phones whenever possible. As the infrastructure and the users are already there, all Starbucks must do now is to launch their own augmented reality app,” he completed.
However, for the most part, in-store augmented reality technology seems to focus more on either making the employee’s jobs easier or freeing up workers to perform essential tasks as it is the case with Sephora’s store associates.
AUGMENTED REALITY RETAIL – MASS ADOPTION
With the help of augmented reality apps installed on the store’s tablets, Sephora’s staff become beauty advisors. As such, they are helping out customers who seek one-on-one consultations, providing a type of customer service that appeals to consumers of luxury and expensive beauty products.
Nevertheless, while augmented reality technology has become accessible to large companies, from a cost perspective, augmented reality has yet to make a substantial impact, on from a consumer perspective before we reach mainstream adoption and use. Moreover, even if the in-store deployment goes without complications, it still remains for the customers to use such innovative technology.