In the current digital landscape, consumer behavior has undergone a massive shift, focusing on convenience and hyper-personalized products and services. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are emerging technologies that are gaining momentum in the retail industry owing to their capability to provide tailored customer experiences. As consumers become more conscious of their choices, the brands they support, recommendations of appropriate products, and personalized services play a critical role in influencing their loyalty toward brands. With the help of AR and VR technology, businesses can empower consumers to leverage the benefits of digital “try-ons” and “virtual fitting rooms” and the provision of color matching that could range from clothes to shoes to hair dye and a lot more. Therefore, VR and AR technology, in combination, are offering a huge opportunity to reshape the retail industry by allowing consumers to get the digital experience of the products they seek without any restriction of physical boundaries, paving the way for the new era of digital shopping in the retail segment.
Major Advantages of AR and VR in the Retail Industry
With enhanced digital proliferation, retailers understand the nerves of the market and want to optimize advanced technologies like AR and VR to provide personalized digital-first shopping experiences to consumers globally. What makes Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality a key differentiating factor for the retail industry is that these technologies help to unleash the interactive representations of different products to consumers that are geographically scattered and provide immersive experiences that can easily surpass the actual experience of visiting the store physically. Additionally, It enables the retail industry to create digital assets that provide the benefit of end-to-end integration with customers. The options are vast in the product life cycle using 3D models, ranging from creating the design of the product to enabling team training, designing customer experiences, and a lot more.
It is important to bring out the fact that, currently, the introduction of web-enabled AR technology, popularly termed WebAR, is going to revolutionize the entire retail industry and the way with which product interaction enables consumers to derive a real-time experience of the product, enhancing their ability to make informed decisions. With more than 65% of consumers showing interest in buying products via AR/VR technology and more than 60% of consumers believing in the power of AR and VR technology to redefine the whole landscape of the retail industry, there are endless possibilities for WebAR in the coming times It enables the retail industry to create digital assets that provide the benefit of end-to-end integration with customers. The options are vast in the product life cycle using 3D models, ranging from creating the design of the product to enabling team training, designing customer experiences, and a lot more. So, let’s take a look at the key advantages of AR and VR in the retail industry below:
- Ease of Virtual Try-Ons: In current times, retail businesses are banking on the capabilities of advanced technologies like virtual try-ons to relieve consumers of long waiting times before trial rooms in physical stores. With the help of augmented reality, consumers can optimize virtual try-ons that help them visualize different products, accessories, and clothing before making a final purchase. The customers get to know how the product looks on them, which makes them confident about buying the product, helps reduce the percentage of returns, and overall makes customers happy and satisfied. For retailers, this is a win-win situation where customers have virtual try-ons; they can increase their sales significantly as compared to sales in physical stores, with customers being more confident in their decisions to buy the products and having greater satisfaction. Moreover, they can gather valuable customer data that they can utilize to create hyper-personalized marketing campaigns for better results.
- Visualization of Products From Any Location With Virtual Showrooms: With advanced technology, retailers can leverage the potential of virtual showrooms that provide customers with an opportunity to immerse themselves in a 3D environment of the retail store, irrespective of their geographical location. In fact, the carefully designed 3D environment of the store ensures a detailed and immersive experience for users, where they can experience the product 360 degrees by evaluating it from all angles to understand the intricacies of its design and features, allowing an unparalleled approach to the aspect of product visualization. The provision of 3D modeling along with the rendering technique enables customers to not only view and experience the product in a detailed manner but they can also move a step ahead with enhanced personalization by experimenting with different colors, customizations, and materials. It helps customers bring a tailored experience to the process of product visualization, and they can experience how the product would look before purchasing it. The retailer gains a lot of insights into customers’ preferences that can be optimized for marketing and targeted at customers with tailored marketing efforts.
- Optimization of Print Catalogs: AR and VR technologies have bridged the gap between the physical and digital worlds, and having print catalogs with AR technology in retail enables the transformation from static pages to more immersive and connected digital experience. There is an overlay of 3D product models that is utilized on catalog pages. Consumers can leverage the power of technology, as by using their smartphones or tablets and hovering them over the catalog, they can derive a three-dimensional view of the product. The users can look into the given product from different angles, gain insights into the intricacies of the product, and have a comprehensive understanding of the product. The immersive experience of gauging the product clearly removes all the barriers between a physical visit to the store and having a 3D view of the product in the digital world. With the harmonious blend of traditional physical catalogs in retail stores and the technology of AR, print catalogs provide a satisfactory result for people who prefer the tactile aspect of print technology while embracing the power of digital technology, paving the way for more immersive and tailored experiences.
- Provision of Store Window Display: With the power of Augmented Reality, the experience of store window display is optimized with an immersive and tailored approach. With smartphones, customers can easily scan the store window display and optimize the 3D models of the given product. The immersive technology provides ample scope for customers to rotate the products and gain insights into all key aspects of the products. Along with this, customers gain immediate information about product pricing, detailed product information with all specifications, and customer reviews as well. The introduction of gamification on the window display encourages users to interact with the display window and win prizes and discounts. This approach enables retailers to garner users' attention and help build a constructive and positive attitude towards brands.
- Customer Data Collection: The whole concept of having AR and VR technology in the retail industry is to create better and more personalized customer experiences. Using Virtual Reality technology, retail businesses can help customers visualize the products in their homes by allowing them to view how any piece of furniture or any other product will look in their home setup. It helps customers experience the set-up with a VR headset, and they can virtually walk into the room and place the given furniture in a designated place to understand the whole concept of buying a new piece of furniture for their home. Moreover, retail businesses can leverage the potential of this technology to gather and understand customer data. Based on their browsing history, previous shopping lists, and saved shopping lists, the brands can provide more personalized products and offers to customers. Additionally, the staff can be trained using the technology to help them gain more insights into customer interactions, and they can assist customers with the right knowledge, resulting in satisfied customers. With more digital touchpoints intricately woven into the entire digital experience of customers, the retail industry can optimize these touchpoints across different channels in the customer journey to attract more customers and provide tailored experiences.
To conclude, the world is changing with the advancement of technology, and consumers prefer to associate only with brands that provide customized services and understand their preferences for enhanced digital experiences. With the enhancement of augmented reality and virtual reality in the retail industry, all the physical barriers between customers and retail stores have vanished. With smartphones, tablets, and desktops, customers are experiencing products in digital reality, ranging from clothing to home decor, with immersive experiences. Businesses need a reliable IT partner that has domain expertise along with a dedicated team of professionals that provide 24/7 support for optimizing AR and VR technology to give a boost to the retail industry by connecting these technologies with business models and determining specific financial goals to attain maximum value out of these technologies. Moreover, evaluating the results of implementing these technologies on a regular interval can help retail businesses stay nimble as these technologies are getting more advanced with each passing day, making them capable of meeting customer demands successfully. Therefore, having a robust IT partner can help retail businesses create more personalized and immersive digital shopping experiences for customers to help them make informed decisions, promote brand loyalty, and open new channels for growth.