As augmented reality (AR) gains ground in the business world, it changes how businesses interact with customers.
AR has brought new realities to the customer experience and is a big differentiator in today’s market. Essentially, AR refers to the overlaying and sharing of physical spaces, images, and objects on a user’s screen where the virtual interacts with the real world. AR has created new opportunities for brands to interact with their customers in three dimensions on mobile devices.
The market changes in unique ways as these new digital experiences transform customer journeys into immersive visual interactive experiences. We now have AR applications that serve as powerful new mechanisms through which companies add value to their customers’ journeys, from pre-sales to sales to after-sales, enriching the relationship between the two parties.
Augmented reality has potential in virtually every industry on the market. Today’s cutting-edge AR applications are driving sales by improving customer satisfaction. AR can generate more conversions and helps customers shop online and in stores. Technology creates authentic visual and tactile connections between customers and the products they wish to purchase. Companies that get on the augmented reality train soon enough will reap huge benefits.
For any technology to have a significant impact on society, it must be practical and, secondly, be adopted by the masses. Experimental technologies that do not go beyond adoption by tech enthusiasts die. There was a time when it was not yet clear that AR would achieve mass adoption and be practical. That time has long since passed: AR is no longer too complex, expensive, and experimental to be used by most. It is ready for implementation to increase sales and improve the customer experience.
Who Has Embraced Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality personalizes sales and marketing experiences by helping customers understand how a product works, its features, etc., and how it would fit into their real world. For example, Wayfair created a View in Room” feature within its app that takes advantage of Tango, an augmented reality technology from Google that allows shoppers to see how the furniture they are thinking of buying would fit into their homes. Shoppers use their smartphones to view 3D sofa images and choose to save them to their idea board or browse and buy.
The Lowe’s Vision app has a feature called In-Store Navigation which also uses Tango. The home improvement company added the feature so customers can interact with their store designs via their mobile devices and add products to their shopping list. They may follow directional prompts they receive through their screens superimposed on the real world. Lowe’s Vision was designed to offer customers virtual guides in some of its stores using the most efficient routes.
Ikea, the multinational furniture conglomerate, has also embraced augmented reality. The Swedish company’s RA works in much the same way as Wayfair, allowing customers to see before buying what the furniture available in their homes would look like. The experience is similar to how people try on clothes in a store before buying them.
Sephora, the French multinational beauty brand, has pioneered AR through software that offers shoppers a more personalized experience without seeking the help of an outlet clerk. With AR, the Sephora app overlay’s makeup styles and shades of makeup products on the wearer’s face. The test screen has a button at the bottom that guides shoppers through the store’s checkout process.
Augmented Reality for boosting sales and customer experiences
The following are seven ways that augmented reality is boosting sales and customer experiences.
Improving decision making by eliminating indecisiveness
One of the reasons consumers have been reluctant to buy some things online was the inability to interact with the product and test it to make sure it is what they are looking for. Doubt introduces indecision. Augmented reality creates renewed confidence in online shopping and will increase the value of the e-commerce market as retail moves constantly to the internet.
Adding value to customers’ shopping experiences
In a post-pandemic world, the world will rely more on contactless transactions. AR will be at the center of this shift, flipping how retail and e-commerce work: from making an all-inclusive over-the-web shopping experience to creating new levels of customer satisfaction.
Adding value to interactive packaging
Through augmented reality, customers can better see the improved visual experience of a product’s packaging. By viewing a 3D image of the package, customers interact more with the product and get a more valuable shopping experience; they can see product details that they otherwise would not have seen had they not interacted with the product packaging via AR. Some companies that use interactive AR packaging are Coca-Cola, Lucozade, McDonald’s, Absolut, and Heinz.
A smoother experience locating items in an outlet
Customers often find themselves wandering around looking for certain products in a store. When you’re short on time, it’s even more frustrating. AR technology helps customers navigate even the largest stores and easily find the items they’re looking for. Stores use AR to allow customers to virtually navigate the aisles of a store, find the item they’re looking for, and deliver it home.
Deploying “try it out before purchase” experiences
Without having to visit a store, AR allows customers to try products before paying. Nike, for example, helps its customers find the perfect sneakers for them using AR. L’Oreal leverages technology to allow potential customers to “ style their hair” through the app: customers use AR to choose a hair color and design by first seeing how it will look on them.
The AR overlay is possible, which allows customers to access FAQs, manuals, and other product materials. Instead of one-on-one meetings or queuing to access customer support solutions, AR can recreate those experiences, reducing customer queries requiring a service agent’s help.
Coaching service agents
AR is reducing the time it takes for stores to train their service agents. They are trained using duplicate products in AR technology, eliminating the need to handle physical items. In addition, retraining can be done without disrupting the operation of the shop. The well-trained and experienced staff greatly improves customer satisfaction and experience.
How Augmented Reality Increases Sales
AR has the ability to influence the decisions customers make when buying. The following are some of the reasons why:
The number one driving force in buying decisions for most people is emotions. Connecting emotionally with a product increases the likelihood that you will buy it. AR can increase the brighter emotions that connect a customer to a product and make them want to experience similar emotions in the future. AR creates more positive feelings about a product. By providing a great shopping experience, brands increase the likelihood that customers will repeatedly want to create those experiences.
A deeper feeling of ownership
People buy what they know and understand. To improve their decision-making skills, they need to interact with the products to feel comfortable enough to buy. These interactions allow them to visualize what it would be like to own the product. AR improves these interactions and increases the likelihood of customers buying your products.
When they buy a product or service, consumers trust their emotions and their logic. They weigh the pros and cons, give clues about their emotions, and decide which item makes the most sense to them. When they implement their marketing strategies, companies find ways to convince potential consumers that their product would undoubtedly meet their needs.
If you don’t, you could push them to another retailer. AR’s visualization capabilities help shoppers eliminate doubts about a product because they feel better about its feelings and the likelihood of solving their problem. As a result, they are more likely to purchase the item.
The Future of Augmented Reality in Boosting Sales and Customer Experience
Sales and customer relationships are undergoing an incredible transformation thanks to augmented reality technologies. Companies that have already adopted AR have an additional competitive advantage in an otherwise flooded market. More and more brands are realizing groundbreaking AR skills and incorporating them into their pre-sales, point-of-sale, and after-sales operations.
Personalized shopping has taken on new meaning as interactions become more visual and engaging. However, we are still in the early days of virtual reality technologies for businesses. In the not too distant future, AR will have a marketing-altering impact on the market. AR will be central to shopping experiences that make customers feel valued, empowered, and special.
As AR moves into the future, AR technology companies remove the obstacles that have hindered their growth by creating technologies that improve usability and create better development tools. Companies that create augmented reality content will have the opportunity to understand their consumer behavior better.
AR technologies will help companies better understand how customers interact with their business, improve engagement and sales, and which marketing campaigns perform better than others. Retailers are looking for new ways to leverage AR, even for offline environments.
By 2030, AR will have penetrated virtually every aspect of marketing. Augmented reality experiences will become even more popular when the next generation of smart glasses, developed by Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple, hits the market.
Today, there is no doubt that augmented reality is the future of marketing as it takes traditional business promotion approaches and flips them to create fully immersive shopping experiences that improve engagement levels in physical and online stores.
About the author
Rithesh Raghavan is the Director at Acodez, a Digital Agency in India. Having a rich experience of 15+ years in Digital Marketing, Rithesh loves to write up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development.