The future of shopping is here and it looks cooler than you can imagine. With the advent of e-commerce, retail stores have adopted the newest of technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) to enhance the customer’s shopping experience to get an edge over other stores. They have transformed the whole journey of a shopper from entering a store to opening the final product at home in unimaginable ways. This has resulted in increased brand engagement for them and a whole new way of shopping for us. So, let’s take a look at how some retailers are using augmented reality shopping to give us a memorable experience.
The first thing you do on entering a store is you look around and browse through various sections to find something you like or something that is on your shopping list. Perusing through the whole store can be a hassle and you might not find what you’re looking for. To make the in-store experience more informational, seamless and faster, retailers have introduced augmented reality navigation. Lowe’s, a global hardware retail chain, has introduced Lowe Vision, a mobile app that helps you navigate through the store based on what you want to buy. The app lets you create shopping lists using their catalogue and then shows you the fastest path to reach those products alongside more details about them. Take a closer look:
Try it Before you Buy It
The next thing you do in a store is try the product (in case of wearables). Some brands enable you to try their products using augmented reality applications without the need for the physical product itself. Lacoste, for example, is one such clothing and accessories brand which lets you try on a wide variety of shoes virtually. They do this through the LCST Lacoste AR app using which you can point towards your foot and watch your footwear change with a swipe. To make it more fun they’ve cool graphics, music and postcards to enhance the experience.
If it wasn't enough, Augmented Reality has also impacted the way we can explore and purchase real estate. WOWSOME's Real Show application allows prospective buyers to sit in a photo booth and feel the experience of owning that property. To entertain the guests, virtual characters and objects are added to the scene enhancing the engagement of buyers.
Mirror, mirror on the Wall
Imagine if you could just stand in front of a mirror and try on different outfits without actually having to wear them. Well, some brands have turned this into reality using Magic Mirrors. These interactive mirrors are set up in retail stores of brands like Timberland and Top Shop and they allow the users to stand in front of them and try various outfits virtually.
Users can customize a look by trying different clothes, shoes and accessories using hand gestures that are detected by the mirror. In the end, you can also click a picture of your look and share it on social media to get reviews from your friends. See the AR mirror in action here:
Who needs stores anymore?
Most of us shop for groceries from the nearest store or supermarkets but sometimes the long queues during rush hours might be troublesome and demotivating. What if there is a supermarket that has no queues, no counters, and delivers everything to your home and gives you the experience of a supermarket without any physical store? Yes, you read that correctly. Yihaodian is Chinese grocery website that created 1000 virtual stores overnight to compete with brick and mortar supermarkets. How did they do it? Using augmented reality applications, they created stores that you can see using your phone and walk through to buy what you need from the virtual shelves. After adding everything to your cart, it is delivered to your home. They placed these stores in empty parking lots and famous landmarks that gave them unlimited space without buying actual land. See how they do it here:
If you want to find the right product from the comfort of your home, brands have taken care of that as well. Now, using AR furniture apps, you can see how a finished product will look in your home before you decide to buy it. On the forefront of this technology is IKEA, which offers users the option to place any piece of furniture in their house virtually before deciding to buy it. Users can customise the colour and type of furniture, move it around the house and resize it based on their preference. Check out the preview of this technology below:
We have all faced the dilemma of deciding the right colour for the walls of our rooms and have been apprehensive of choosing an imperfect colour. What IKEA is doing for furniture, Dulux is doing for augmented reality interior design. Using the Dulux Visualizer app, any user can try different colours for their walls choosing from hundreds of their shades. It even allows you to apply multiple colours to different parts of the room and click pictures to review later. You can see their app in action here:
AR in the Product
The final step of the shopping experience is the product itself and brands have not left any stone unturned to enhance customer engagement at this stage either. Adidas came up with a cool idea to let users use their shoe for something other than wearing them. They created an app that scans your shoe and then takes you into a virtual world like Star Wars. In this world, your shoe acts like a gun and you have to shoot aliens as you navigate this world. Don’t forget to check its demo:
When it comes to shopping, AR has changed the way we choose, try, buy and use the products. Not only has it impacted the way shop owners engage customers but it has also empowered the users to experiment from the comfort of their home. Shopping is one of the few arenas that is witnessing rapid innovation through augmented reality and we hope to see even cooler ways to shop coming up in the near future.