5 Ways Retailers Can Use Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is beginning to have a major impact across all industries. In the upcoming years, augmented reality (AR) is predicted to have an immense impact in retail, footwear, and apparel - not only in store, but also online. This will undoubtedly change retail for both brands and their consumers. AR is designed to bridge the physical and digital worlds, and the use cases for AR continue to expand as retailers get more creative with their applications of the technology. The experiments of leading brands have shown the potential that AR has to influence customers and the way they interact with products. Additionally, AR can be used internally to improve the design and development process. Here are five ways that retailers can use augmented reality to gain a competitive advantage:

Design review

The early stages of fashion design are an iterative process. The process requires multiple rounds of reviews and revisions before arriving at the final look to eventually go into production. By utilizing AR to converge the digital and physical worlds, designers and developers can now review digital product designs in a physical space at full scale. This gives them the ability to obtain real-time feedback from other stakeholders while also having the flexibility to quickly iterate on sampling, aesthetic choices, and more.

Smart fitting rooms

When it comes to connected store technology, AR is a big differentiator for brands who want to improve the customer experience. In particular, fitting rooms can leverage AR technology to show shoppers what certain items would look like in various colors or patterns, saving them the time and hassle of trying on multiple pieces of clothing. Fitting room mirrors equipped with LCD screens make this possible, providing a more interactive experience for shoppers.

Product interaction

Products themselves can also attach AR experiences to provide shoppers with an interactive way to obtain additional details. For example, experiences can show where a garment was made, if it’s part of a sale or promotion, if it was manufactured sustainably, and more. When viewed by a mobile device, this information can easily be shared on social media or other digital channels. Brands can go even further by gamifying these AR experiences to give shoppers further incentive to interact with their products.

Online shopping

An increasing amount of brands and retailers are successfully incorporating AR experiences into their mobile apps. They're doing this by giving shoppers a way to visualize their products at full-scale using only their mobile device. This can provide online shoppers with the luxury of a virtual fitting room where they can "try on" different styles, without ever having to leave the house. The IKEA Place AR app, for example, lets shoppers scroll through a catalog of the retailer's furniture and then place it in their home at full-scale to see how it looks and fits in their space. The same can be done with various products, such as apparel or footwear, to give shoppers a sense of how a product would complement the rest of their wardrobe or look in an outfit. Features like these can really persuade customers to purchase products, as well as allow them to visualize the product in their everyday lives.

Creative marketing

Outside of the usual shopping channels, brands and retailers should be thinking outside the box about how they can utilize AR as a way get in front of new audiences or make a powerful statement. Creative AR marketing stunts are an amazing way to stand out and provide consumers with a unique experience that has potential to drastically improve brand reputation and customer engagement.

Take Audi’s quattro coaster AR app for example, where users can choose and resize a car model. Afterwards, they are able to design a track for it to drive on in whatever location they’re in. For the user, it’s a fun, free activity to try at their convenience. For Audi, it’s a way to show new, detailed car models to people without them having to come into a dealership. As retailers get more comfortable experimenting with AR, those that push the envelope will continue to stand out as torch bearers in a crowded retail market. This will accelerate their sales, as long as their company all around.