In recent years, Augmented Reality has gained popularity all over the world, becoming a valuable marketing tool for many brands. The retail and the e-commerce sectors have both exploited its potential, since this technology has proved to be an excellent tool for attracting new customers.
Thanks to the superimposition of virtual information - 3D images, graphics, texts - to the real world through the cameras of smartphones, tablets or PCs, brands that exploit Augmented Reality provide the consumer with a new and engaging shopping experience. Those brands that have been able to better interpret the customer's wishes and, at the same time, to open up to new technologies, have thus managed to implement new marketing strategies and increase sales.
Thanks to the use of Augmented Reality - which entertains, informs and instructs - people spend more time in (online and offline) stores: a fact that favors the interaction with each product. Previewing your "object of desires" in Augmented Reality allows you to evaluate its qualities more precisely - we will see how - and improve your purchasing decisions.
If we had to summarize the reasons why Augmented Reality is a bridge launched towards the customer, we would indicate the following.
Purchase decisions, more than to perfect logic, are closely related to emotions. And the most significant emotions, at the sales level, arise when the customer is able to interact with a product, perceiving positive sensations (surprise, fascination, understanding). Augmented Reality can offer consumers unforgettable shopping experiences that they will then want to repeat, since it is in human nature to reward ourselves with the repetition of positive experiences.
Augmented Reality can, for example, help customers move around stores and find their favorite products more easily, being informed in real time of discounts and offers. It can also be used to project virtualized products in the real world (a piece of furniture, an appliance or a lamp: are they suitable for my living room?), or even on one's own body (a suit, a pair of glasses, a pair of shoes: how is it on me? ).
All of this enriches the way we search, live and buy products: Augmented Reality solutions, therefore, greatly improve the user's emotional involvement.
If the main advantage of offline sales, in physical stores, is direct contact with the item, it is almost impossible to explore the wide range of variants of each item on sale “live”. However, with Augmented Reality it is possible to test each article in any variant. Plus, a product that looks fine in the store may not fit at home: the table is not the right size, the color of the appliance does not match the color of the wall.
Augmented Reality can significantly help customers make the right, cautious choice: by evaluating each existing product option and placing it virtually in an environment, buyers finally have the real chance to center their choices.
We live in the era of one-to-one, personalized and targeted marketing. This customer-centric approach is made possible by the explosion of shopping platforms for mobile, desktop and web devices. Augmented Reality fits perfectly into this trend, offering customers highly personalized shopping experiences.
Thanks to Augmented Reality, users can for example choose between the various style options of a product and perfectly evaluate its characteristics. This helps to create a completely personalized shopping experience, in which each customer can have the feeling of getting hold of unique and special products, made especially for him.
A satisfied client is first and foremost a returning one. If the purchase situation in Augmented Reality has been satisfying, the chances that the user has had a positive experience will be very high. At the same time, given the ability of the technology to remove any doubt from the client, the probability of returning the product will also be low.
Augmented Reality thus becomes a means for companies to retain their clients and increase profits even in highly competitive markets. Those brands that adopt this technology first will certainly have a competitive advantage over the ones that will respond late to this technological call.
Augmented Reality can help sellers use their physical space more efficiently: when it comes to selling large items with multiple variations, even the most capacious showrooms may not be enough.
But thanks to the possibilities of Augmented Reality, each product variant can be viewed on the same model, optimizing the use of physical spaces and limiting the costs due to the management of large premises (rentals, maintenance, utilities, staff, etc.).
Augmented Reality has already come a long way in several sectors and the positive response from consumers will only encourage the industry to adopt it even more forcefully. The future of many commercial strategies will deeply involve Augmented Reality technology, which will play an increasing role in creating innovative sales tools.
In theory, any product sector can be helped by Augmented Reality to increase its sales performance. So far, those in which it has been most applied are furniture, fashion, automotive and large-scale distribution.
Furniture manufacturers and resellers use Augmented Reality to help customers find furniture that fits the space of their apartment. The user, via smartphone or tablet app, projects the piece of furniture into the environment, to get a more precise idea of what it will look like in that place once purchased. For ordinary people or interior designers, furnishing any house is simpler and error-proof: by virtually testing the color and style of the selected furniture, they then move on to purchasing with more awareness.
The world's leading furniture retailers have already provided Augmented Reality purchase options to their consumers. Many other companies are taking up the challenge to provide better service to their customers.
Trying a dress in the store is often necessary to make sure it fits you, but thanks to Augmented Reality you can reduce the time to choose it. If the customer has to evaluate multiple variants of the same item, he can point the smartphone camera on a suit to see how it looks in different colors. Plus, there are also "Augmented Reality dressing rooms" in which the customer can directly see the color change on the dress he is wearing.
A well-known shoe brand has created an AR solution that allows customers to try shoes on without wearing them: using the specific app, buyers can view the shoes directly on their feet through the video camera. The same applies to the whole world of fashion accessories (glasses, bags, jewelry), which can be "tested" virtually before purchase.
If we think, for example, of an "augmented showroom" dedicated to the sale of cars, technology can allow customers interested in a particular car model to view specific colors or finishes in real time, for the exteriors or interiors, or customize the rims or other details.
Outside the salon, another type of Augmented Reality app can also allow users to check how a new car would fit into their garage, avoiding making the mistake of buying an oversized car.
Sifting numerous shelves in search of the desired product can be tedious, dispersive and a waste of time. Augmented Reality has changed people's habits in those big shops or supermarkets that are already equipped with it.
Within real commercial structures, visitors navigate the shop through a special app that guides the user towards what they are looking for through the smartphone's video camera, also providing other useful information to complete their shopping experience.
In conclusion, it is now quite clear that Augmented Reality is an effective and efficient marketing tool for both buyers and sellers. If properly implemented, it can offer customers an exceptional shopping experience and the seller a powerful tool for showing his goods.
Augmented Reality, in its various forms, offers many advantages to both physical and online stores. Thanks to its ability to visualize, entertain (also through gamification), emotionally involve and support the decision-making process, Augmented Reality can be the decisive investment to generate more sales in an infinite number of product sectors.