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.
As retailers look to re-imagine the shopping experience, here are five ways retail marketers can leverage augmented reality to interact with their customers.
- 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.
- Case study: Lego has used it to show what products would look like assembled in real-time. International fashion retailer Top Shop has used it to let customers try on clothes without actually stepping into a fitting room.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Case study: Marvel and Walmart partnered to produce an augmented reality gaming app in advance of the film release of “Marvel’s the Avengers.” To play, users could scan AR-enhanced images to unlock each Avenger’s super power and save the world. The catch? The app could only be accessed from the aisles of Walmart, meaning the user had to be in the store as long as they wanted to play.
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.