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Augmented Reality in Retail: How 3D and AR Is Reshaping The Industry

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Product Experience has been the driving factor for businesses worldwide, but it has been primarily physical or one-to-one interaction. 

However, the introduction of Augmented Reality in the retail industry has transformed how customers interact with brands. Product experience is now virtually exciting for customers. 

Such levels of innovation in the retail sector have led to revenues going through the roof. Interactive 3D graphics overlaying actual elements in a live environment allow retail brands to provide a real-life experience. 
The customization level makes this overlay technology attractive for most businesses. Brands can leverage this technology and customize entire campaigns, improving conversions. 

Take the 3D furniture models used by Made.com, which resulted in 25% more sales for the retail brand. Similarly, you can leverage 3D and Augmented Reality in the retail industry use cases.

This article will help you with different ways to use 3D and AR technologies in the retail industry. But first, you need to understand the transformative potential of Augmented Reality in changing how customers buy your product.

Augmented Reality in Retail Industry

Augmented Reality Shopping Is Transforming the Buying Experience

Conventional marketing had its limitations. One is accessibility! Specific products can only be accessed or experienced physically; that is where AR has been transformative. 
Take an example of a shoe pair, furniture, or sunglasses. Experiencing these products virtually needed innovative technology, which was only feasible with the introduction of AR.
Here is how Augmented Reality in the retail industry has been transformative:

1. Understanding The Product Market Fit

As a brand, your product may be new. Testing the product on scale requires extensive testing. 
At the same time, this is easy for a physical product as you can create prototypes and ask a category of customers to use it. 
However, if you are to test a service or product on a scale that requires investments in prototyping, it can become challenging.
For example, you want to test a new sunroof design for the cars you manufacture. There may be more viable options than physically creating several prototypes.
Instead, an AR version of the feature allows customers to understand how the new sunroof looks and feels.
This allows car retailers and manufacturing brands to test their products without spending heavily.

2. Redefining Product Trials

Virtual try-on technologies have recently become a part of almost all eCommerce apps. 

From marketplaces like Amazon to individual brand apps, virtual try-on technologies improve the product experience.
A virtual try-on allows customers to experience different products, such as clothes and makeup.
Customers can preview products virtually and gain a clear understanding of their appearance, usage, and other features, which allows them to make informed decisions.

Take an example of the nail polish try-on provided by Revlon.

You can leverage augmented reality to know whether a lipstick or nail polish shade looks good on you. 
Going above the normal AR usage, Revlon offers an AI-based model that shows how well the shades look on her. Similarly, you can leverage AR in retail industry use cases, primarily virtual reality.

3. Boosting Brand Awareness

Retail marketing is all about showcasing your product’s USP. However, your products don’t get the wise value they need without the proper brand presence and customer awareness.
Without visibility, a lack of understanding makes the product almost nonexistent in the market.
While conventional marketing channels can help you market the product, AR can add more value.
Using AR in your retail marketing campaigns can offer customers a unique and immersive experience. It improves awareness and helps boost brand presence in the market.

Competitive Advantages

AR offers a competitive edge for your retail brand, especially if you can articulate the use case. 
For example, a virtual try-on differs from your differentiator, and many other retail brands use the same tech. However, using AR tech to offer a competitive edge can make your brand stand out. 
Augmented Reality in Retail

Take the example of the giant fashion brand H&M, which has created a differentiator through virtual showrooms. 

H&M has allowed customers to leverage AR/VR technology for virtual try-ons of different styles in real-life environments and the metaverse. 
The meta environment will also enable customers to experience materials that may not be possible in a real-life scenario. 

1. Immersive Interactions

A significant change AR has brought to the retail industry is enriched interactions. 
Customers can now have immersive, far more personalized interactions with the brand. The flag bearer of such innovation has been the adoption of AI in the retail industry.
Brands now leverage AI with AR/VR to provide real-time intelligent features. For example, Google introduced AR content on its Google Maps platform through the Lens feature at the I/O event.
Users can search for a location and experience the AR content if it’s available for that destination. 

For now, it’s available to select partners, including the Singapore Tourism Board, which is using it to promote locations with “Merli’s Immersive Adventure.” 

Similarly, you can leverage Google’s API to introduce immersive interactions for customers whenever they search for your brand store.

How Is Augmented Reality Shopping Used in Ecommerce?

Augmented Reality has been pivotal for eCommerce businesses due to prototyping capabilities. 
It allows brands to offer a realistic experience for customers through a blend of 3D imagery and powerful overlay technologies.

Augmented Reality shopping is a great way to improve conversions if you are an eCommerce business. Promoting AR shopping and encouraging customers to opt for it can enhance sales- HOW?

1. AR Helps Convert Faster!

AR in eCommerce has distinctive benefits; if you can leverage it, your brand can benefit massively. 
The main advantages of using AR in eCommerce offerings are customer retention and faster conversions.

According to a study, different attributes of AR impact the hedonic value(HV). It measures the value a customer receives while experiencing a product or service. 

Higher HV can lead to better continuance intention(CI). This means that customers will repeatedly use your service or product. 
Some of the AR attributes that contribute to higher HV are, 
The study helped me understand how each of the above attributes impacts HV. 
For example, the study indicated that interactivity and novelty significantly impacted HV, while product informativeness, vividness, and system quality did not.
Using AR, you offer your customers an immersive and interactive environment.
Plus, AR’s novelty affects customers’ purchase intention(PI). In simple terms, AR boosts customers’ intention to use and purchase your product continuously.

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2. Purchase Gamification

AR usage in eCommerce has made shopping more of a fun game. Virtually shopping for a product can become mundane without engaging elements.
AR provides engaging content for customers to interact with and enjoy shopping.
It adds a sense of customer gaming activity through virtual events, quizzes, competitions, and digital rewards. You can further amplify the gamification approach through rewards and discounts.

3. Product Visualizations

AR has been transformative for customers looking to buy products that fit their real-life settings.
Customers can visualize the entire product and understand how it fits in. For example, Amazon’s AR-enabled feature allows users to visualize any product in their room.
This feature allows customers to visualize the look and feel of a product in their personal space. 
It can boost conversion chances and enable customers to make purchase decisions quickly.

4. Realistic Reviews

AR-based experiences allow customers to provide a more realistic review of the product.
This means increased authenticity for the reviews. What makes these reviews an advantage for brands is the kind of pull they have on other customers.
AR-based reviews can act as a lead magnet for your brand, attracting more customers through unique, dynamically accessible content.

5. Higher User Engagement

Augmented Reality helps improve user engagement, ultimately allowing eCommerce brands to increase customer association.
Higher user engagement also helps brands get data insights on purchasing behavior, preferences, and product attributes that customers like.
This allows organizations to improve their products and increase conversions.
Knowing the audience becomes more important now that you understand why using AR in eCommerce matters.

Who Uses Augmented Reality Shopping?

Augmented Reality shopping has become popular among millennials and GenZs. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, while GenZs were born between 1997 and 2012.

Both these generations are target audiences for retailers looking to improve sales. But what has led to these generations opting for AR shopping is the “Phygital” trend. 

Most millennials and Generation Z users want to experience products before they buy.
This means they seek a consistent brand experience across physical and digital channels.
Augmented reality in the retail industry has enabled brands to provide a consistent experience virtually similar to what they can offer at physical showrooms.
Here are some examples of brands that target the phygital approach with AR!

1. Dior’s Perfume Try-Ons

AR try-ons can amplify customer experience, and Christian Dior Parfum’s campaign is live-proof. Known for its fashion and beauty products, Dior launched an interactive AR campaign for its lipstick range in Eid 2023.

This campaign targeted young women searching for lipstick during the holiday season. Initial research by Dior’s team revealed that the search for beauty products was 35% higher during the Eid period.
So, they ran this campaign in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar, targeting more than 4 million people.

2. Revolut’s Unlockable AR

Revolut, a financial app, celebrated the June 2023 launch of an ultra membership plan by creating an AR experience. It created mysterious silver “Platinum Portals” that appeared across European cities.
Augmented Reality in Retail
Users can scan the QR code at the base of a sculpture and unlock the AR experience by displaying Revolut’s metal card.

3. Escape to a Malfy World

The famous Italian gin brand Malfy leveraged an AR shopping experience to attract more customers.
The experience showed how drinking Malfy’s gin can take customers to the Amalfi coast in Italy on a sunny day.
It was surreal, created through a combination of immersive images and a 360-degree view.
Such experiences are viral among millennials and Genzs, so leveraging AR shopping for your brand does make sense.

What Makes a Great Augmented Reality Shopping Experience?

A great AR shopping experience hinges on several key elements bridging the gap between the physical and digital shopping realms.

1. Immersive Product Visualization​

Customers love 3D imagery, and seeing it in a live environment can make all the difference. 
It offers immersive visualization for customers to examine products from various angles. These 3D images also allow customers to visualize how items like furniture or decor would look and fit in their space.
Apps like IKEA Place have mastered the art of using photorealistic 3D furniture models to enhance customers’ visualizations.

2. Personalized Recommendations

Integrating AR with advanced technologies like machine learning and AI can help you provide personalized recommendations to customers.
It also allows brands to upsell and cross-sell products to improve revenues. 
Personalized recommendations also help improve customer satisfaction and allow you to retain more users.

3. Enhanced Product Education

Not all products have an easy learning curve. As a brand, you must educate customers on the ins and outs of using a product. This is where you can use AR technology to do so.
Plus, you can help customers maximize and improve the potential of product usage through AR-based lessons.

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4. Optimized Customer Journeys

Last, using AR technology can improve the entire customer journey. Customers interact at multiple touchpoints while exploring, considering, and buying your product. 
You can introduce AR-based technology at different interaction points to improve customer journeys.

Use Augmented Reality Shopping to Increase Your Sales

Growing demand for Augmented reality in the retail industry is pushing many brands to develop interactive apps. 

Adding the immersive 3D content has been enabling the brands to not only engage customers but offer a product experience that resembles the physical interaction. 

Many brands are now using AR to enable virtual showrooms, AR try-ons, and improve conversions. 

However developing such AR capabilities for your business does require expertise in 3D imagery integrations and developing immersive experience. This is where Zennaxx can help you with advanced AR development services. Get an estimate for your project now. 

Want to develop a software as per your business needs?

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Jay Bhalani

iOS developer
Jay Bhalani is a seasoned iOS developer with over 9 years of experience in Swift and Objective-C. Specializing in crafting innovative and user-centric mobile applications, Jay excels at translating complex ideas into seamless user experiences. His passion for staying at the forefront of technological advancements and a proven track record of successful projects make him a valuable asset in the field of iOS development.

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