How companies are revamping their sales in B2B retail using augmented reality?
A detailed look into the impact of augmented reality and virtual reality on the retail sales sector.
For most of us, augmented reality, or AR, is a concept limited to the gaming industry. With the famous game Pokemon Go, the term was largely thrust into the mainstream in 2016. The mobile AR app had 45 million users at its peak, making it the fastest mobile game to gross $100 million (along with four other Guinness World Records). Its use of technology, however, has had the greatest cultural impact. While Pokemon Go made augmented reality a household term, its capabilities go far beyond entertainment. When it comes to Augmented reality in retail structure, as a consumer you may not have set foot in a physical store other than supermarkets, as many people do for months. Of course, this does not imply that no purchases have been made during this time. As a result of the pandemic, e-commerce has exploded, with shoppers turning to the internet instead of going to stores. We can see that the use of augmented reality technology in retail has been able to provide a unique and immersive shopping experience, in addition to simply online shopping. While the use of augmented reality has grown in recent years, the pandemic’s impact has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for AR retail to thrive.
AR has been used for commercial purposes since 2008, when it was combined with a printed magazine advertisement for the BMW mini, according to the Harvard Business Review. When the ad was held up to a computer camera, an on-screen car appeared, which users could control by moving the ad. This may not seem significant now, given the prevalence of Instagram filters in most of our daily lives, but it was groundbreaking at the time. Since then, augmented reality experiences have become a popular way to improve consumer decision-making and purchasing experiences, even in the B2B world.
Virtual reality and the Retail industry
Virtual reality retail experiences are changing the way people purchase in stores. There is huge potential to grow into virtual settings, with the global augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) market anticipated to reach 1.6 billion by 2021. Both shops and customers benefit from creating a virtual shopping experience. It has the potential to lower overall operating expenses and provide immersive experiences for customers to test out and modify before purchasing.
A famous example would be the brand “Kellogg”. When Kellogg intended to introduce their new Pop-Tarts Bites product in 2019, they teamed up with Accenture and Qualcomm to develop a virtual reality (VR) solution to assist them to figure out where to put it on the shelves. The IT companies collaborated to develop a lifelike virtual supermarket, replete with aisles, shelves, and products, where focus group participants could “shop” using virtual reality headsets and an innovative eye-tracking analytics system.
Let’s list 3 famous places where Augmented reality is paving its way with B2B retail market industry:
Customers can use apps like IKEA Place to see how different pieces of furniture would look in their homes. Customers can use this augmented reality mobile app to “put” items of furniture in a room to gain a feel of their dimensions in relation to the area and surrounding goods, rather than purchasing improperly sized items and returning them when they do not fit in a room. These apps were developed before the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, but they are ideal for this situation. Customers can buy furniture online with greater confidence when they are unable to see it in person at a real store. Furthermore, ‘test, before you buy, helps to lower the number of returns, which, regardless of lockup restrictions, can be an onerous process for large or cumbersome furniture.
With its new ‘interactive commercials,’ the large video-sharing site, which is one of the top digital marketing trend predictions for 2021 (Think With Google), sees the potential in AR. Users can visually try on makeup while watching video content like product evaluations on YouTube’s AR Beauty Try-On. MAC is the first company to test this, with approximately 30% of customers using the function.
The VW T-Cross, which premiered in grand style at the 2018 Sao Paulo Auto Show, was Volkswagen’s largest launch in 2018. The fact that it wouldn’t be available in dealerships until April posed the biggest hurdle. As a result, a quick strategy was needed to keep expectations high during the five months of waiting. With this in mind, Volkswagen developed Volkswagen AR, an augmented reality software that allows users to examine a 1:1 scale reproduction of the car’s interior and exterior elements in great detail. People were able to see new models before they were released on the market, which helped them acquire sales.