Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive 3D digital layer on top of the natural world with computer-generated elements in real-time. Users can currently use AR through AR goggles or smartphones.
Immersive AR systems can position computer elements with real-world elements with convincing depth, perspective, and other rendering characteristics. The interaction between computer and real-world elements is advanced enough to arrange relevant synthetic elements “in front of” and “behind” real objects or interact with the natural world in a meaningful way.
Within the retail industry, AR has viable applications. Users can shop for items and try them out from their homes. AR can show you what an outfit looks like on your body or what a table will look like in your living room. The technology is already in use by Wayfair, Houzz, and Ikea.
AR presents new opportunities to improve the customer experience and give your company an edge in the market. You can view Nike sneakers or try a new L’Oreal hair color on their respective apps. It makes it easier for customers to connect emotionally to the product and create positive feelings around the product. AR adds more dimensions to the customer’s decision-making process and makes them more comfortable making a buying decision. Customers rely on their emotions and logic to decide, so the insights that AR gives its users help eliminate doubt.
AR lessens one of the barriers to online shopping; users don’t know what a product will look like in the real world. Now users can view the product in their real-world spaces, improving the “try-it-out before purchase” experience. AR also makes finding products easier; customers don’t have to go through the store sifting through endless shelves to see what they want. They will have the product in their view from every visual angle, and they will have detailed information in hand.
AR offers a contactless shopping experience. The feature will become essential in a world that will have to live with Covid-19.
The customer will also have the company’s or product’s knowledge base at their disposal. They can access FAQs, manuals, and other product materials. Using AR in customer support will reduce one-on-one meetings or queuing at call centers.
Businesses can use AR to reduce errors in the warehouse. Experienced staff is rarely an issue, but seasonal workers tend to have a learning curve where they can make picking, packing, and shipping errors. AR can show the contents of a box, which products need to be picked and help identify them. AR can also display vital information on ready-to-ship packages like order shipping times and handling instructions for when carriers arrive.
As a business, you need to reduce the amount of packaging you use for environmental and cost reasons. AR can help reduce the packaging of multiple products. Usually, when an employee has to fit various products in a single package, they have to guess a box that will fit everything; sometimes, they will pick a size that’s too big, which will be a waste. With AR, employees can see exactly what can fit into a box and how they can fit it, ultimately making the packaging process more efficient.
Using AR, customers can “try” a product from home and make a purchase. AR improves the decisions that customers make and so it can reduce returns. Returns are a logistical and financial burden on online businesses, so their reduction will improve the operations and financial position of the company.
Order picking makes up to 60 percent of the operational costs. Approximately 80 percent of order picking in warehouses is currently manual labor, so improving the e-commerce order fulfillment business processes can create savings for your company.
AR is a growing industry; in 2020, AR devices and services will be a $180 billion market worldwide, and in 2028, the figure could reach $340 billion. Although it is a significant, growing, and innovative market, it still faces many challenges.
The biggest hurdle will have to be the cost of implementing AR. While the large enterprises can easily spend $60,000 for app development, smaller businesses may not be as lucky. Another problem is the fear of technology, many view tech like AR as too futuristic and disorienting. Like many other new techs, AR will have to solve its cost and learning curve gaps before mass adoption can take place.
New tech will always compete with other cost areas. Companies aren’t always eager to devote time, money, staff, and other resources to adopt, train, or experiment it either. There is also a concern about the lack of regulation in the industry. Companies want to have assurances about data privacy, copyright, and liability concerns.
Management buy-in can be challenging, especially when they mention the above challenges. Many can view tech like AR as a gimmick that adds no value to the business.
Enter the World of Retail AR
AR is the future of retailing. Use it in conjunction with your e-commerce store to build an immersive experience for your customers. You can also use it in the back office to incorporate new efficiencies and reduce costs.