February 20, 2018 | 7min read
6 Ways to Boost Retail Sales with AR/VR and... a New Smartshop AR App!
Mobile first? I’d rather say it’s VR and AR-first! Why VR and AR are here to stay seems pretty clear but if you are still not convinced, you can check out our previous article. Although AR head mounted displays are not yet commercial ready, there is a huge potential in mobile AR. It’s not only a new medium providing innovative ways of displaying content but also an exploration field for designers and developers. What was once 2D flat, now can become a 3D interface and it’s time to think how companies should build their products, communication and strategies with the AR-first approach and the VR-first approach. Especially when it comes to the use of AR and VR in retail.
A lot is happening in retail space when it comes to VR & AR. It’s exciting to see more and more ideas spreading through various industries and we are definitely into exploring new territories. However, in Polidea, we strongly believe that a good product design should start from customers’ problems rather than an innovative technology per se. This is why we conducted a research on how mobile AR could bring value to the customers’ shopping experience. We were able to identify more “painful” parts of this activity—both from the customer’s and the manager’s perspective. Finally, we came up with 6 key areas in which AR may disrupt traditional shopping. Let’s go!
- Indoor Navigation—find your way through the crowd A problem, that probably most of us have encountered, is finding the one, specific item from your shopping list. AR can help navigate you and your customers through the aisles to the particular shelf. Some retailers still stick to the idea of the customers being lost in their stores, but we feel that it’s something that’s going to change once AR reaches the mass adoption. After all, time is money!
- Personalized Advertisements—get the right message at the right moment AR creates yet another powerful immersive marketing channel. The concept of the personalized and targeted marketing content is already well-known to the digital world. It exists on mobile, web and even your desktop. With AR, it’s possible to reuse the physical space to display personalized ads in an already existing shop. Looking at the yogurt fridge, one will see an interactive ad of a bodybuilder eating it for breakfast as the best way to build muscles, while the other will see it as a work snack, which helps to lose weight. What’s more important, we are not limited to the 2D banners. Instead, we can create beautiful 3D animated content that can significantly change the way consumers perceive products. Just imagine that during the next M&M’s advertising campaign, you will see how Red and Yellow M&M’s discuss the new taste and ask you or your kid about your opinion.
Gamification—have fun along the way A super powerful mechanism that drives today’s apps is definitely the gamification. By giving some small rewards in a virtual space for the user’s activity, apps invoke a genuine and tempting experience of improvement and satisfaction. Thanks to AR the whole shopping situation becomes much more natural. Dog lovers might be engaged in a shopping quest, where they have to find a set of products for their dog. If they accomplish this task, they get an extra promo code for the next shopping. This is also a fantastic way to engage your kids in this boring and usually tiring chore. They will definitely love the concept!
- Advanced customers analysis—get to know them! By engaging VR & AR as a necessary shopping tool, you get a much broader overview of the customers’ preferences and behaviors. With AR, it’s much easier to track the user engagement metrics or ads focus times. You get to know the customer’s paths and the way they navigate around the store.
- Improve decision making processes with VR & AR—boost your sales All of the above will generate additional data, which—if properly used—might help you optimize your sales, reduce storing costs and provide your customers with the best shopping experience possible! All the gathered insights might also be visualized in 3D and presented directly in the store context. Such information might help you better manage your business, eg. optimize the product sales with a proper shop space planning and designing an interactive marketing campaign.
- Employee Training—make learning efficient! Obviously, your staff is at the forefront of your store. Every training process is a complicated project (not to mention, a costly one) for the employer, especially if some staff mistakes were made due to the inadequate training. This is where VR can prove to be most helpful. Conducted in real-life environments, employees might be safely trained, while responding to various scenarios, like operating a conveyor belt, driving forklift trucks or helping customers to find a particular product.
Now comes SMARTSHOP—our Augmented Reality app that we have developed and designed in Polidea. We wanted to not only discuss the vast potential of AR in the retail industry but actually, demonstrate it! SMARTSHOP gives an idea of how AR might be integrated into an existing shopping space. It was designed and optimized for iOS devices and integrated with ARKit. What’s more, it’s already available on AppStore.
Smartshop is our impression on how AR might be used in existing retail spaces. You can check what it might look like by setting it up in your store (or even your living room). In the application, you are asked to collect all the products from your shopping list. But don’t worry—3D-visualized path will help you achieve this task in just a few seconds! Be careful though— don’t get distracted by the personalized advertisements along the way.;) For now, it’s just a teaser of the AR capabilities. In the future, we want to dive into VR & AR usage for the employee training or assistance in decision-making processes.
Smartshop is a template and can be further developed and customized, depending on your business needs. We would be thrilled to use it in a real-life environment and see how it’s incorporated into business. Visit the project’s website to learn more: http://smartshop.polidea.com
If you’re still a bit skeptical about VR & AR, there are other big brands, which already jumped on board of the VR/AR train. Ikea, the company with many innovative marketing ideas, created an AR application IKEA Place, which gives the opportunity to check how a particular furniture will fit and look in a customer’s living room, before even getting to the store.
But there’s more—some of the IKEA stores have also developed several VR applications: one for a virtual showroom (obviously), but surprisingly games for new store openings and a pancake flipping training as well.
Other companies like eBay decided to create a VR version of a regular shopping experience out of their digital e-commerce activity. In South Korea, on the other hand, customers will get a completely virtual shopping mall.
Walmart, for instance, is already incorporating VR into training centers in the US and they have lessons “for the lowest-level bagger all the way up to the store management”.
In terms of the VR & AR usage in retail, that’s definitely just the tip of the iceberg and we will surely see much more happening in this space in the following years.
There’s a thin line between Virtual and Augmented reality technology, which is why we think that eventually, the traditional shopping will mix with the e-commerce shopping experience. There are some who will definitely benefit from such future—digital payment providers. Two of the biggest players Visa and Mastercard have already invested in AR. Well, it’s hardly surprising, since the future where you can instantly buy any product you just saw through the interactive augmented layer is almost here. What do you think of the VR and AR role in retail?
At Polidea we are full of ideas for positive VR & AR implementations so contact us if you would like to talk more about the potential usage of Smartshop AR solutions in retail!