In contrast to our previous blog, Are we ready for the next realities: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Mix Reality? I am shifting to something a bit specific: retail business.
Despite the rapid adoption of Reality Technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), to most of the retail merchants, the business impact of transformed sales and marketing process is quite fuzzy. The prime question is, at what degree can AR, VR and MR change in this space also change customer attitude toward shopping? You probably are not sure I know that for certain, but we do know it’ll change the general business process like somewhat in the following ways.
A. The Past – Enhancing the In-Store Experience
In retail shopping history, in-store commerce is in practice from the prehistoric era. In fact, this was probably the main way of customer engagement in the past, before the e-commerce boom in the last decade.
However, we all hear the news reports, particularly around the times of year where shopping is supposed to be at its peak: online shopping is up and sales in physical stores are down.
The reason is probably the slow pace of product showcase technologies or the proper adoption of the branding strategies leveraging smart technologies to engage the visiting customers.
If you wish to change the reports, reality technologies are here already, matured enough to take control over your instore customer experience.
Retailers across a number of industries have integrated AR/VR/MR technology into the in-store experience. It’s a smart move, especially considering 61% of consumers prefer stores that offer advanced reality technology based product experiences — and 40% of them would pay more for your product if they have the chance to experience it through AR/VR/MR physically. The opportunity you get adopting advanced interactive tech in your in-store product showcase regardless of product industries, makes you to step ahead of your competitors from the very early moment.
Brain Station 23, for example, created the Furniture 23 AR mobile app that changes the in-store customer experience. Any furniture manufacturer using Furniture 23 app, can have this installed in a handheld or mobile device in each of their outlets. Customers visiting the store, could use to virtually try on the sampled furniture, make customization and also share the interior ideas with friends and families right away while sitting in the stores. The comparison and buying decision thus comes easier to the potential customers. The app can also create AR experiences with window displays, in-store signage, and promotional videos, interior ideas.
Now, if a customer can have all these services before actually buying the product, the decision will not delay for a second visit. If focused on the business and marketing aspect, the furniture manufacturer gets easy product showcase, instore digital marketing materials and yes radical impact on customer’s buying decision.
B. The Present – Bringing In-Store Experience to Customer’s Home
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality has also proven an effective way to bring the instore experience to life in a virtual sense. Rather than customers visiting your store, AR allows them to experience your products and services right in their homes.
Now, despite the opportunity intrinsic to online retail and shopping, there are also some daunting challenges that companies must overcome in order to successfully sell products online.
The primary drawback to online shopping is that many of the sensory elements that customers use to make their purchasing decisions are often lost. When shopping online, a customer cannot touch or feel an item, see how it works, or know how it will fit in their home. The loss of this interactivity and presence in the shopping experience leads to uncertain buyers and more abandoned carts.
But with the advanced reality technologies, the idea of whole online shopping idea could be made more trustworthy and profitable through huge customer retention and easy sales process.
Many factors can contribute to a customer’s buying decision. However, there are three main driving forces of buyer uncertainty in online shopping that can be resolved beautifully and seamlessly with augmented reality.
Create an Engaging Buying Experience-
“61% of shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer augmented reality, over ones that don’t” – Retail Perceptions
While shopping online, a customer has to imagine and interpret what an item would feel like in their hands, or look like in their home. AR technology helps overcome this online buyer’s challenge by transforming an imagination into a reality.
A customer who can accurately see how any product will actually feel in their environment, at-scale, will be able to purchase with more certainty and satisfaction.
Modify or Customize Product Selections-
Before making a purchasing decision, customers often want to see various color selections and explore other modifications that might be available. Augmented reality makes it easy for consumers to explore their options and make personalized modifications while online shopping. With retailers who offer augmented reality, shoppers can change the color of furniture they’re looking to buy to see how it looks in their home first.
Visualize or Understand Products and Features-
Both online shoppers and in-store customers wish that they could interact with a product to get a feel of how it works before heading to the cashier. Reality Technologies is allowing shoppers to trigger animations to show how complex products like appliances or electronics work and function. This enables more transparency between the customers and retailers and creates mutual bond of trust and loyalty.
C. The Future – Changing the Branding Behavior
Retailers don’t just want to sell products once at a time. They want their customers to come back.
Reality Technologies Help to Lure in more Customers
Augmented and Virtual reality provides an opportunity to accelerate testing, planning, and decision making in an effort to become more customer-centric and keep them coming back for more.
Today, VR training platforms are built on the Skills-Based or Knowledge-Based models. At this point in 2018, to affect branding behavior with AR/VR/MR is fast becoming less of a sci-fi question and more one of scalability. VR already uses the body as natural interface, which allows us to simulate even agent-service experiences. So from powerful experiences, we can engender the business perspectives.
In the latest wave of AR/VR/MR adoption, the service industry has started training retail, customer service, and insurance staff with basic social simulations. Beyond the service industry, experiences following the Behavior-Altering Model can address the biggest issues of today — and tomorrow. As conversational AI progresses, we will very soon be able to simulate customer service at home and anywhere with automated product showcase, sales/after-sales services.
This changes the whole idea of perpetual retail business behavior towards a scalable sales and marketing strategy for retail and merchant business and all others falling along.
As the immersive technologies rise, the business in each sector experience changing behavior and pattern of processes and so are the customers. For retail, 2018 promises more disruption ahead as retailers try to figure out the changing shopping behaviors they see from customers who are more digitally savvy than ever. Now the question to answer for retail business owners: is your business prepared to handle a campaign that makes full use of Reality technologies for the sake of changed customer behavior altering model? Contact our experience immersive technology architects, in case you’re struggling to figure out the answer.