Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. AR got popular primarily due to Instagram’s filters that put animal ears on our faces, and Pokemon Go, the game that superimposed the famous pocket monsters in our day-to-day environments. However, AR isn’t mainstream yet. Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “AR can be really great … We are high on AR for the long run; we think there’s great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”
We know that the gaming space and the social media space have already started using AR tech. But what about the shopping space? Well, it turns out retailers are rapidly adopting this technology, releasing mobile apps and creating AR “booths” to delight and engage customers. According to Retail Perceptions, 71% of shoppers would shop at a retailer more often if they were offered augmented reality, and 61% of shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer AR, over the ones that don’t. The study was conducted on a sample space of 1,062 people across the United States, to learn the ways shoppers perceived AR. The study also showed that 40% of the shoppers would be willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it through AR!
Mobile apps are a great way to get shoppers to experience augmented reality, particularly since today’s mobile phones have the tech and the cameras to support app-driven AR experiences. American Apparel, a popular US-based clothing brand, was one of the first to capitalize on the emerging technology. Their app allows you to scan promotional material—an image of a clothing that pops up surrounded by information in the form of customer reviews, videos, slideshows, and the ever-present share button for social media. You can then adjust a slider to change the color of the clothing and then, if satisfied, click the “Buy Online” button to have the item shipped to your home or just add it to a wishlist for purchasing it later.
Charlotte Tilbury is another brand that has completely revolutionized our shopping experience through the use of AR. It has created a highly advanced real-time tracking system and a realistic visualization AR mirror for their makeup product line: foundation, blusher, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipliner, lipstick. In the mirror, contouring techniques are added on to a real-time moving face capture. The customer sees before and after real-time videos of the makeup applied almost perfectly. The “Magic Mirrors” allow customers to virtually try out each one of Charlotte’s iconic “10 Makeup Looks.”
AR can also be used to bring the in-store experience to a customer’s home. This has been achieved by the Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA, with their IKEA Place app. The purpose of the AR kit is to place true to scale IKEA furniture in your home space. All you have to do is scan your space, browse the IKEA store for furniture and “place” the chosen item in your space as machine learning. This process completely eliminates the need to measure your space to figure out what fits and what doesn’t!
AR is undoubtedly here to stay and will soon be a major part of our shopping experience. In fact, you can try it out today with Amazon’s AR app. Shopping just got cooler!