VR And AR in Retail: How to Amplify The Customer Shopping Experience

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies blur the line between physical and virtual worlds. In this article, we highlight how VR and AR in retail are revolutionising the consumer shopping experience.

vr and ar in retail

What is AR shopping?

Augmented reality (AR), according to Gartner, represents:

“The real-time use of data and information including graphics, text, audio and a variety of virtual enhancements overlapping real-world objects.”
 The “real world” component differentiates augmented reality from virtual reality (VR). AR is not a simulation of real surroundings. 
Augmented reality overlays the digitally designed content into the consumer’s real environment. The features comprise transparent optics and the real surroundings of the user. Augmented reality in shopping helps consumers to digitally engage with products and brands. It also delivers more product information details compared to standard online shopping experiences.
With augmented reality shopping, consumers can virtually try on a variety of products and styles before buying. Retailers are slowly implementing the technologies to gain traction and engage shoppers. For example, leading beauty companies such as Onda, MAC, and Deciem, use AR-powered apps to allow users to try and test different shades of lipstick shades and makeup styles.

According to GetApp’s research, an average of just 14% of Australian consumers have used AR to shop (online or in-store.) Similarly, only 12% have shopped in a virtual reality environment. Yet, the same survey predicts that AR and VR are trends set to grow and strengthen. On average, 49% of respondents said they’re interested in shopping with AR and the 47% said the same about VR.

What is VR shopping?

 According to Gartner, virtual reality (VR) is:

“An innovative technology, which offers a computer-generated 3D digital environment including 360-degree video and graphics.”
The user will use a head-mounted display and handheld devices to take part in the VR activity. A rendered, digital surrounding replaces the consumer’s real surroundings. The environment surrounds the user and it’s responsive to the user’s actions. Touch-sensitive feedback is also available. Plus, more than one user can take part at once.

VR and AR in retail use 3D assets, which are digital models of the brands’ physical products. Users can interact with 3D assets during VR/AR experiences.

Using VR and AR to drive better customer experiences

AR and VR solutions can help retailers:

  • Improve their customer engagement levels
  • Create personalised shopping experiences
  • Improve customer return rate and satisfaction.
SalesForce research reveals that 75% of consumers expect new tech to make their shopping experiences better. The same study shows that 84% ofconsumers consider the experience is as important as the product.
Statista shows that the video games sector will be the largest segment within the AR and VR industry in 2020—exceeding $11.5 billion by 2025. Yet, the implementation of AR and VR in the retail sector is growing strong and it’s expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2025.

Here’s how using VR and AR can help you deliver a seamless shopping experience.

Engaging and immersive shopping experiences

AR and VR address the prime directives in retail. This includes:

  1. Driving customer engagement and immersion into the brand’s value proposition.
  2. Expanding customer experiences and making them more interactive.
  3. Streamlining the consumer’s buying journey through the shop by providing navigational help.

VR store accessibility

Onboarding is simple and efficient when retailers use easy-to-follow UX designs. Customers can learn how to use the different features available in AR and VR that retailers put in place.

Product information, browsing and help

AR provides extended product information such as ingredients, specifications, features, and benefits. AR streamlines the delivery of product information. It also helps customers compare and select different product categories. The amount of details at the client’s disposal influences their decision-making process.

AR extensions can help customers search for products. The technology allows users to discover products in the virtual shop from home, and as if in-store, they can view products in augmented reality before buying.

People want to make sure they buy a product with the correct specifications and configurations. Augmented reality can help customers buy the right product from home. In turn, this reduces the potential for returns.

Understanding your augmented reality development kit

An augmented reality development kit includes special hardware, AR software, VR software and networking solutions. Hardware components for AR include sensors, displays, processors and input devices. Smartphones include most of the hardware needed, such as:
  • A camera
  • Micro-electromechanical (MEMS) sensors
  • Strong compasses.
Units for AR rendering include:
  • Monitors
  • Optical projection systems
  • Display systems
  • Handheld devices.
AR displays are available on special eyeglasses, HUDs (head-up displays) and contact lenses.
Mobile AR apps are gaining traction thanks to the adoption of wearables and mobile units. According to Statista, smart augmented reality glasses global shipments increased from 150,000 in 2016 to 10.7 million in 2020.

The future of augmented reality and virtual reality in retail

Brands worldwide are steadily adopting VR and AR in retail. Major retailers are enjoying the benefits of AR software and VR software solutions such as increased customer engagement, sales and ROI rates. Consumers are responding to augmented reality, which encourages a seamless, interactive shopping experience.

Looking for AR software? Check out our catalogue.