Neal Applefeld

Four Ways to Reinvent Retail Marketing through Augmented Reality

By: Neal Applefeld | September 12, 2013 | 

Four Ways to Reinvent Retail Marketing through Augmented Reality

By Neal Applefeld

Technology has changed the way consumers shop.

With the rise of online retail, a phenomenon known as “showrooming” has emerged.

Shoppers visit brick and mortar stores to check out merchandise firsthand, then return home to make their purchase from an online retailer that offers the same goods at a lower price.

This trend has taken a toll on brick and mortar retailers, creating a need to tap into new and more innovative ways to capture their shoppers’ attention.

As the digital and physical collide, smartphones have become a powerful decision-making tool.

Whereas marketers once divided print, digital and in-store marketing efforts, augmented reality presents an opportunity to create a continuous consumer experience across the web, smartphones and in stores.

Augmented Reality

As retailers look to re-imagine the shopping experience, here are five ways retail marketers can leverage augmented reality to interact with their customers.

  1. Let shoppers try before they buy. Studies have shown consumers are more likely to buy a product after they’ve touched it (or have been able to envision owning it, if shopping online). Augmented reality provides an easy way for retailers to let customers “try on” a product before they purchase it.
  2. Add a dimension to printed product catalogs. With more than half of shoppers using their smartphones to research purchases both in and out of store, retailers can no longer afford to separate their marketing efforts. To maximize sales opportunities, they need to merge their print and digital worlds. By enhancing a printed product catalog with augmented reality features, brands can capture the advantage of direct mail’s immediacy and then trigger dynamic, interactive content to engage the user.
    • Case study: Ikea recently announced that its 2014 catalog will include an augmented reality feature that enables readers to “project” furniture into their home, giving them a real-time, scale view of what something would look like in their space.
  3. Give them an opportunity to “see it, shop it, and share it”: The convergence of ecommerce and mobile technology makes showrooming a real threat for some brick-and-mortar retailers. By adding digital features to in-store displays, retailers can re-engage shoppers on their phones while they’re in the store and make showrooming a thing of the past.

    For example, shoppers could scan a display to unlock coupons and special discounts, add items to a virtual closet or solicit feedback from their friends and social networks – all while browsing and shopping in-store.

  4. Extend brand experiences beyond the purchase: The more time consumers spend with a brand, the higher their attachment to that company becomes. Augmented reality can be especially helpful here, as it provides new ways for consumers to visualize and interact with products and brands.

By tapping into the potential of augmented reality, retail marketers can enhance their customers’ shopping experiences, become more competitive with online retailers, and ultimately drive more sales.

About Neal Applefeld

Neal Applefeld is founder & CEO of SeeMore Interactive – a tech startup that integrates image recognition, recommendation engine, and location-based technologies with augmented reality to help retailers create digital, interactive experiences for their customers. Prior to SeeMore Interactive, Applefeld held marketing and product development roles with Black & Decker, John Deere, and Elmer’s Products.

  • My mouth is hanging open after reading this post. Not only the possibilities for the future, but current technologies (I have a strong disdain for trying clothes on) and the great opportunity you outlined for marketers. Thank you for a great read, Neal!

  • cagedether1

    Looking beyond the purchase, heard on #FIR podcast how Audi is introducing AR into the world of owners manuals:

  • Blows my mind what consumer brands can do with augmented reality. I know there are a few tech startups in Denver that are doing some cool things like that. In fact, you can walk down a street, and direct your phone camera towards a restaurant/shop window, and it will overlay user reviews/etc.
    Some consumers find creepy…others are more than willing to leverage the new technology available to us. Umm, I’m never getting an implant, though!

    • dbvickery want to know what augmented reailty is? Peyton Manning doesn’t exist. We all know he is a hologram.

      • Howie Goldfarb Don’t mess w/my mind like that – we already have a Doobie Brother (Von Miller) who can’t play because he can’t stay away from the reefer…don’t need PFM (Peyton Freakin’ Manning) to be a hologram.

  • This is great Neil. One advantage retailers have over the web is we can’t shop on the web the same way. While I could go to a Blockbuster and scan 1000 DVDs in like 10 minutes it would take me hours on Netflix. Same with clothes shopping. I can check out 1000 fashions at Bloomingdales 1000x faster than online. We have tunnel vision on line. So the fact we have to go to a store often because the experience is 1000x richer because of some of your points (touch, feel, see options all at once) gives them an advantage beyond price.
    I have blogged about this in the past. Maybe matching an online price in store if they buy now? Having better trained staff? Having more options to marry smartphones with in store experiences?
    But Google glasses could change tunnel vision. What if I can sit in my chair and behave and shop just like I can in store minus the touch and feel? Could be a huge disruptor. But brick and mortar can again fight this with a richer experience for Glass users in many ways. They just have to think outside the store box.

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