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Augmented Reality: Retail Business Partner


Augmented reality is strengthening its roots in ecommerce and retail. You might think of Pokémon Go and Snapchat as the only applications of this technology, but AR development possesses more potential than an ability to capture a Pikachu in your garden. According to industry analysts, AR and VR will become a $150 billion industry in 2020. Here are a few applications of Augmented Reality in retail that can boost your E-commerce business.


1. Enhanced Visualizations: The Modern Analytics


With implementation of AR in retail, customers can experience a digitized version of brick-and-mortar shopping. Imagine, you walk into a store and pull out your cell phone with an interactive AR app running on it. You focus your cell camera on a product, and the entire description of that product pops up. You can visualize the cost, ingredients, and nutritional aspects and compare the product with other brands to choose the one matching your needs.


Buyers can also save their time by customizing their search. That’s how it works: the user feeds their requirements to the app and points the device to the shelves. The app automatically marks the location of the desired product on the screen.


Augmented Reality also allows for simple and convenient indoor navigation. A person entering a shopping mall can locate different sections of the mall, like grocery, clothing, appliances, etc., by focusing his or her camera on the gallery.


2. Augmented Reality Appearances: Experience Before You Buy


Companies are adopting AR to display their products in a novel way. For example, IKEA introduced Place App that enables buyers to place furniture anywhere in their room to see if it matches with their décor theme. American Apparel allows their customers to visualize products in different colors, just like changing the color of a dress or a couch. Sephora, a cosmetics brand, launched an AR mobile app that enables customers to try on different makeup and choose their favorite shades through Virtual Artist. Dulux is using their mobile app to offer customers a pre-visualization of a wall before it gets painted. Ray Ban’s AR app allows you to overlay any model of sunglasses onto your face. Some clothing brands are using AR in retail to create virtual fitting rooms where customers can try on the clothes without actually dressing. Kohler also adopted Augmented Reality to better enhance its customer shopping experience with a so-called Kohler View. It enables customers to place Kohler products onto their home space to see how the products fit their space. Read more HERE.


3. Spacious Stores: No Limits


This is a really interesting application of AR in retail that is now replacing the conventional concept of big malls with compact stores. With AR, you can possibly fit more stock in a store. Customers can see a great variety of virtual products while roaming in a very small store. This concept has also given birth to virtual e-stores where companies are offering their customers to experience a tour of their store while staying at home. This isn’t the VR experience where a headset assists virtual tours. Instead, AR glasses visualize an entire layer of shopping store that is overlaid onto you existing environment.


4. Inventory Management: Effective Strategies


AR has a mind-blowing potential to manage your inventory efficiently. Pointing your AR featured device at a box can reveal a detailed description of that box like order pack time, pickup time, delivery time, etc. Additionally, it can also update you regarding stock availability and location of a particular carton or a shelf in your inventory and notify you if an item is misplaced, guiding you to its actual place.


5. AI & AR: Two-digit Transformers


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fueling businesses at present, and AI is being merged into AR to provide better user experience. Intelligent algorithms monitor public preferences and suggest products based on general reviews. A customer focusing his or her AR featured device on a product can visualize public reviews, sale/purchase stats and rating of that product.


Besides, when a customer buys any product, the app looks for what else other customers who were interested in this specific product had bought and suggests similar products. Not only this, if a customer is looking for ingredients for a particular dish, they can just put in the dish name, and the app will suggest the ingredients others had bought for that dish and also indicate their location.


Based on public interest in a particular product, store owners can analyze the public demand and manage their stock accordingly. This public interest data gathered from AR glasses helps product manufacturers to know the current market trends.


Mind Your Costs


Many retail business owners are afraid of adopting new technologies. Such a strategy builds up your brand name and helps you to stand out from the crowd, but, at the same time, it can lead to revenue loss. How to manage this risk? Start with a pilot project launched in a particular branch or department. If the project is successful, expand the new technology adoption to the rest of the company. Such a ‘scalable’ approach helps to optimize software and service costs.


As a rule of thumb for IT costs split, about 60% should be reserved for hardware, 15% for software, 15% for the content or future maintenance, and 10% for services. Implementing AR in retail and e-commerce is not rocket science as several services companies are offering for full implementation of AR from scratch. However, it’s the fear that needs to be overcome, to survive the race of technology.


One Last Word


Patrick Ryan, Manager AR at Newport News Shipbuilding, highlights the significance of AR as:

“The beautiful thing about AR is that it doesn’t replace people like robotics or automation does. Instead, it empowers people. It is an investment in people.”


Technology is the worst enemy of a man! “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.” This statement was marked in the history when CEO of Nokia burst into tears while handing over his company to Microsoft. If you are not embracing new trends in technology, you may lose the race.


*This article was written and published on Virtual Reality Pop

Erick Tran
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