AR Retail Examples

AR Retail Examples

Augmented Reality (AR) is proving to be an effective digital solution for the retail sector. From virtual shopping to immersive marketing campaigns, AR is transforming the customer experience by changing the way we browse and purchase goods and services, as well as impacting our relationship with brands. 

With growth in the AR market estimated at 43.8% up to 2028, it’s a matter of when, not if, AR will become a more mainstream tool for retailers. 

We want to shout out a few innovative ways retailers are using AR that will be sure to inspire you to utilise and reap the benefits of this technology for yourself.

What is AR and How Does it Work?

AR is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. This technology therefore ‘augments’ the real, physical world with the overlay of digital imagery.  

One of the most widely known and used examples of AR is Snapchat filters- where digital items from sunglasses to bunny ears can be overlayed onto users’ selfies. Another example of AR is the mobile game Pokemon-Go that took the world by storm a few years ago. The game allows users to catch virtual Pokemon that appear through their camera, as if they were in their own real-life environment. 

However, the uses of AR go beyond filters and catching Pokemon. This cutting-edge technology is being adopted by many retailers for its incredible benefits and business value.

Two Types of AR: App-based AR and Web-based AR

App-based AR requires users to download an application on their smartphone in order to experience the AR solution. This means users have to go into the App Store on iOS, or the Google Play Store on Android, to download an application first, before being able to use the AR. 

Web-based AR on the other hand does not require users to download an application in order to experience the AR solution. Instead, it can be accessed by clicking a link or scanning a QR code that opens the AR experience directly from the user’s browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox etc). 

So which type of AR is better? We’ve created a list of pros and cons to help you get a better understanding of what both types of AR have to offer.

App-based AR

Pros:

-More functionality

-Can be linked to CRM

-More controllable and robust

-Allows more control over the customer journey

Cons:

-Inconvenient-asking people to download an application 

-More expensive 

Web-based AR

Pros:

-Cheaper

-Easier to use- just requires you to click a link or scan a QR code

-More shareable on social media

Cons:

-Limited 

-Less robust

-Can work better on some browsers than others

How is AR Helping Retail?

AR can be used as a powerful marketing tool to get customers engaged in your product or service, and enhance the customer journey. 

With AR, you get the best of both worlds, as it allows you to create a unique experience which combines the real world and the virtual one by overlaying digital imagery in the environment around you. Engaging with this digital experience is an effective way to captivate customers and connect them with your product or service. 

AR is more accessible to the general public than Virtual Reality (VR), as it can be used via a powerful device that many of us have in our pockets- our smartphones. So AR is a practical solution that many people will be able to use and access. Both app-based and web-based AR are also less expensive than other immersive technology as a result, as no other special hardware is necessarily required for customers to access it.

In addition, many AR experiences don’t even require you to download an app. You simply scan a QR code with your camera, or click a link, and the AR experience will launch right from your internet browser, making the whole process more convenient for users. 

Creating a fun and interactive experience for people to enjoy can help improve levels of engagement and enrich users’ experience with your brand, leaving a positive and memorable impression. It’ll also allow you to stand out amongst your competitors by offering a unique way for customers to learn about what your brand has to offer, and even virtually try out your products or services. 

People are also more likely to share their AR experience with your brand across social media, as the AR experience adds a level of visual interest. Using AR in retail can therefore be a powerful way to help your business grow. With increased brand awareness and recognition, you can help boost sales and make higher conversion rates.

Uses of AR in Retail

Here are just a few examples of the innovative ways retailers are using AR. 

Large Product Shopping 

 One of the reasons many people choose not to order large items such as furniture online, is because it can be difficult to imagine what the item would look like in their own space. But, retailers like IKEA are changing the game when it comes to furniture shopping. Using the IKEA Place app on their smartphones, users can open up a life-sized, AR simulation of the furniture item, allowing them to place it in their own environment. This allows users to visualise the item in their own space, so that they can decide whether the item is right for them before making their purchase. This opens up more opportunities for online sales, as being able to see the furniture for themselves reduces uncertainty in their decision-making, meaning customers are more confident in their purchases. 

Virtual Try-On

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way consumers shop, with more of us now opting to browse and purchase products online rather than in stores. Whilst online shopping has its perks, nothing compares to being able to see and try out products in the real world, right? Well, AR technology offers a convenient, digital solution, where users can try on clothing or accessories virtually,  allowing us to get a sense of what the item will look like without actually having to visit the store. 

Adidas launched their own AR enabled try-on feature through their iOS App. Users were able to virtually try on footwear by aiming their smartphone’s camera towards their feet, where the virtual footwear models would then appear.

One of the most clever features of  enabled try-on is that it is able to track human movement, meaning you’re able to walk around in real time whilst wearing the item or accessory. This impressive feature of AR technology improves product visualisation and can have a positive influence our purchase decisions. 

Add New Dimension to Physical Products

AR can be used to enhance your physical products, packaging or printed media (flyers, books etc). For instance, by adding a QR code on your product, customers can scan it and see your product from a whole new perspective, with fun animations or images overlaid on top of it.

Coca Cola used AR technology for their holiday campaign. By scanning their drinks cans via the Coca Cola App, users were able to see an AR display of polar bears in an arctic environment, helping spread awareness of their holiday promotions. 

AR can also be used to present extra information about your physical product. Heinz made use of this technology on their packaging by allowing users to scan their products to reveal a recipe including that product.

Adding AR to your physical products, packaging and printed media offers a fresh and exciting way to deliver information to your customers, which can help raise brand awareness and recognition. Adding QR codes to access further product information is also a good way to reduce the financial and environmental costs of extra packaging. 

Virtual Fitting Rooms 

Standing in long queues to try on items of clothing in the fitting room can be a huge hassle for customers. Virtual fitting rooms can help solve this problem. This idea has been deployed by retailer H&M, who used AR technology on a display screen in their Germany stores. The display would take a full body scan of the customer and create a full 3D, 360 degree virtual model of them. The customer could then choose which item of clothing they’d like to try on, and it would overlap on top of their virtual model. The body scanner would take exact measurements of customers’ bodies, making the virtual try-on experience a much more accurate representation of what the item would look like, based on the customer’s unique body size and shape. 

Virtual fitting rooms can be a more convenient option for consumers by reducing waiting times in fitting room queues, as well as reducing the number of returns by allowing people to try-before-they-buy.

Advertisements and Building Brand Awareness 

With AR, you have the freedom to create your own unique experience for users that expresses your brand’s message. 

One great example of AR advertising in action is Pepsi Max’s campaign that involved using a camera on the side of a bus shelter in London that acted like a window to the street ahead. 

AR technology was used to add giant lasers, robots, asteroids and other crazy 3D elements onto the street, which both surprised and intrigued passersby! Not only did this campaign increase sales, but it offered a unique way for Pepsi Max to deliver their message, as well as providing sharable content for people to post across social media. 

Product Launches and Demonstrations 

Using Web-based AR is an interactive and highly accessible way to showcase your products, as it allows users to better visualise the products and see how they function. 

Samsung used this technology to their advantage when they held a virtual press conference to unveil their new products. Rather than just presenting the new products through a PowerPoint presentation, attendees were able to scan a QR code on their screen and see 3D digital displays and demonstrations of the products in their own environment, including phones, fridges and monitors, which were all animated to demonstrate their features and functions. 

Using this AR technology can really bring your products to life, allowing viewers to see and interact with them through a compelling, hands-on digital experience.  

How Will AR Change Retail?

61% of consumers say they prefer retailers that offer AR experiences, as it gives them the power to try-before-they-buy, and helps ensure that the product they are considering will fit their needs. This means that retailers choosing not to utilise AR technology are putting their business at a disadvantage.

The future of shopping is virtual. As we spend more of our time and money online, we will begin to expect more technological innovation from retailers to enhance our shopping experiences. More and more companies are investing in AR technology each year, so we’ll likely see most retailers offering some sort of AR experience as time goes on. 

AR technology is also a powerful force that’s helping drive positive change in the retail industry. By giving users the opportunity to try out  products through demonstrations, fitting rooms, or seeing the item in their own home, retailers help increase customers’ confidence in their purchase decision-making, thus reducing the amount of returns. With less products and energy going to waste, AR technology can help the retail industry become more sustainable and eco-friendly. 

Is AR Worth it?

AR technology provides a wealth of opportunities for retailers to fully engage their customers, showcase products, make the customer journey more fulfilling, and overall contribute to business growth. With so many innovative ways to take advantage of AR technology, the only limit is your creativity.

With huge growth expected in the AR industry, it’s important that retailers invest in this technology now to avoid falling behind their competitors. 

If you’re interested in AR for your business, why not have a chat with our team? We can help deliver a solution that’s right for your business needs. 

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