The future has arrived. As technology continues to evolve every day, things we once thought unimaginable eventually become a reality. From online grocery shopping to voice commands, there are many innovations today that did not exist 20 years ago. One of the biggest inventions has to do not only with the creation of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) but also with the way these two are currently being used.
While VR technology is used for entertainment, education, therapy, and even the military, AR is now becoming of interest for retail stores. Many companies such as IKEA, Converse, and Sephora have taken advantage of the benefits by incorporating this technology into their business.
Through its app, the Swedish furniture giant allows customers to virtually place items in their homes to get a better idea of what the overall layout would look like. According to the company, the IKEA app will automatically scale their furniture in your living room with a 98% accuracy. Converse has also developed its own app, which will let customers virtually try on any shoe available on their catalog before making a purchase. Furthermore, Sephora’s Virtual Artist App allows women to try on make up products and test how it would look on their faces, through the use of their phone camera.
There are endless examples of companies that have already adopted this technology into their daily operations and many more will continue to do so. Studies predict that by 2020, the world will have about 4.78 billion phone users. Therefore, it makes sense that retail stores would want to give their customers the possibility of a virtual experience to take advantage of this trend, especially when the AR/VR market is expected to be worth $150 billion by 2020.
More and more people are turning to online shopping due to its convenience. If customers can try on a pair of glasses or see how a pair of sneakers would look on them, there’s much less room for uncertainty causing more room for a purchase.
From the comfort of their homes, online shoppers can look through the store’s catalog. Even if they are not be able ask a sales associate questions, they could still see information such as prices, reviews, among others. Companies like Macy’s, Pottery Barn and Gap, among many others, understand that enhacing customer experience is the road to the future.
Convenience is not the only important factor, however. Imagine if a customer walks into a clothing shop, and finds an item he or she really likes but the store does not have the customer’s size or the color they are looking for. If the store has an option to virtually let customers try on any of their products, it can make the difference between making a purchase or not.
The amount of missed sales that stores can have due to not having a certain product in stock, or in the right size or color, can be greatly reduced by the use of AR. Retail stores are now looking to shrink the “imagination gap” and give customers one more reason to go through with the purchase. With the use of AR, stores can help people avoid the trouble of having to imagine what products would look like on them or at their homes.
As we all know, numbers do not lie. And when it comes to the VR/AR market, these numbers are very encouraging. Statistics show that 40% would be willing to pay more for a product that they can experience through augmented reality. On top of that, 61% said that they prefer shopping at those stores that offer AR experiences over those stores that do not. In addition, 71% of shoppers claimed they would shop more often at a certain store, given it has AR technology available to customers.
It is exciting to think that this is our future. By prioritizing convenience, humans have been able to develop technologies that meet our expectations and make our daily lives easier. Two decades ago, no one would have even imagined the technologies we have available today. Who knows what new inventions will be created in the next two decades.