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.

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.

View all posts by Neal Applefeld