When we contacted ALLO to discuss our future AR app, they asked one strange question “Did you watch Luc Besson's “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets?” Admit it, it’s an unexpected plot twist for a serious B2B meeting.
And then I recalled the Big Market pictured in that film. A gigantic, almost infinite mall from another dimension with instant access to billions of products.To get into that virtual environment, shoppers had to put on VR glasses.The whole concept looked like the ultimate virtual reality shopping, the one all consumers were dreaming about.
Creating an AR app for marketing appliances that would remind this Big Market was a complex task. But we’ve decided to do it for ALLO to improve the shopping experience for millions of clients and start a little revolution in the AR world.
CIO of ALLO, Constantin Avilov, commented on the challenges and solutions for the company:
“The main challenge of this project was to provide our customers with the access to ALL the household appliances of ALLO, some of which we are not able to sell in physical stores.Our main products are mobile phones, tablets, laptops. Being a huge marketplace, we can also sell fridges, washing machines, TV sets or boilers online. And much more. Unfortunately, we can’t demonstrate these products in our 100 square meters stores. A virtual shop turned out to be the best solution for the problem. We embraced the possibility to open 100000 of stores at the same time and make shopping really comfortable for our customers.
Any e-commerce store is basically a huge collection of photos with products’ description. That’s all. But that’s obviously not enough for modern shoppers who demand more. Our virtual store is the possibility to see all household appliances as if they were real. Customers can check how these appliances look from outside and the inside. It seems the market needed such innovation for a long time. And we are more than excited to be the leaders in implementing this technology.
Inspiration? We were inspired by Pokemon Go, its popularity and simplicity. Severeal retailers were also using AR to sell goods. Yet we’ve managed to create exceptionally realistic 3D models with the maximum number of details, and that what makes us stand out from the crowd.
Besides, another challenge for us was lack serious expertise of users. Most users are not geeks, that’s obvious, and they ask for simple solutions. In other words, any mobile app created today, even the most innovative one, must be intuitive and even pleasant to use for our clients. It’s their basic comfort. And we coped with this task as well.”
More than that, it turned out that a virtual reality shop of appliances is the possibility to implement in life two core principles of ALLO. The company aims to provide customers with the large variety of choices and fast and comfortable products’ delivery. Above that, ALLO aims to create the WOW effect and use personal approach to a customer.
Well, vacuum cleaners that appear from some hyper-dimensional portal in a virtual reality store are what I would call the WOW effect.
ALLO, founded in 1998, has grown to be one of the most effective multichannel retailers on the Ukrainian market. And one of the most recognizable household appliances’ stores thanks to a bright brand strategy. More than that, it’s the leader in the sphere of the Internet of Things and the second largest e-commerce retailer in Ukraine with the annual revenue above $100 million according to Forbes.
Most of the stores are situated in popular places of the cities, and there is no sense in relocating them.Where would you move a shop from Khreshchatyk, the central street in Kyiv, for example?
As a big retailer, ALLO faces all common problems for retailers. However, according to a recent issue of Harvard Business Review, retail will invest in AR the most in the next few years just because AR solves 3 main problems for retailers:
Retail space optimization is not a whim it’s a necessity for the majority of modern businesses. As you know, 2017 was the toughest for retail because of a record number of store closings. In other words, shoppers showed that they want to buy and sell online. Virtual space can be the most effective solution for retailers in this sense.
Improved level of visualization. Any AR app is more eloquent than dozens of pictures and boring stories. More and more businesses understand it. We’ve managed to create the most realistic 3D models of appliances imaginable making them for 100%.
Advertising with the help of AR is a one shot one hit strategy. People react emotionally to such things as AR animations, and that’s the most effective approach to advertising. Besides, if in our AR app, there are banners hanging on the "walls of a virtual store." Some customers think these are TV screens, others notice that these are banners. But it doesn’t change the essence: it’s low - pressure advertising. And it’s working.
It looks like the cooperation between our AR development company and ALLO helped to hit 3 targets at the same time.
But the most interesting thing is that this AR app for ALLO marks the beginning of a new era- the era of advanced shopping with the help of AR. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to go beyond the limits of time and space and open as many shops as they can only imagine. Just think about it, due to the unlimited virtual environment, businesses can locate as many products as they want in virtual stores.
Never-ending stalls with products and an infinite number of positions. The sky seems to be the limit for the company that will place a bet on augmented reality apps development.
Augmented reality apps development is profitable for retailers because it increases sales (more access to your goods at any time of the day) and reduces costs at the same time. No doubt that a virtual reality store is an excellent tool for saving costs: no need to hire employees, no need to pay a rent. If you open a physical store, you will have to manage its work 24/7. A virtual shop is a separate dimension which WORKS even when you’re sleeping. Of course, the software requires support but it’s more affordable compared to the physical store maintenance. The formula is simple:
Reduce costs + increase sales= virtual reality shop.
It seems to me that the paradise of a retailer might look this way. No wonder, augmented reality shopping has become “the thing” among big businesses recently. IKEA, TopShop, Timberland, L’Oreal, Lego, Starbucks, Gap compete with each other trying to find the most innovative and creative way to use AR ap for marketing.
ALLO grasped this opportunity immediately. Moving all those fridges and washing machines into comfortable and cozy shops was always challenging for the company. It’s impossible to sell all the goods in brick and mortar stores because space is limited but in a virtual reality shop, you can sell all your products.
So now we have an augmented reality app for shopping for iPhone which serves as a “gateway” to a virtual reality shop. It’s possible to say that it’s a shop within the shop. Today there are several dozens of models but their number will increase up to several hundreds or even thousands with time.In future, the assortment of this virtual shop will be similar to the assortment of the biggest appliances’ hypermarkets.This virtual shop will serve as a warehouse of physical products with one clear difference: it will be as infinite as the Cosmos itself.
Instant delivery is probably the only thing that ALLO’s virtual reality shop is missing at the moment.Yet customers can click, pay, and buy being inside the virtual app. And goods will be delivered to their doorstep in a couple of days. What is the most important is that these goods will look 100% like virtual models?
When we tackled this task we didn't have any ground so to say. Amazon, for instance, created their 3D models of appliances using photogrammetry. We created them from scratch, the blank space, and, more than that, we’ve made them identical to real models in terms of size and look. It's possible to say that it's a real-time 3 D visualization.
It was crucial to preserve the smallest details, colors, and even scratches of all the models so users would not need to test their imagination. Experimenting with materials, textures, and layouts, we’ve succeeded in creation of insanely realistic models which, at the same time, don’t make this app too heavy.
It’s clear that customers are demanding more from online shopping that’s why it was crucial to make them “want to touch” those appliances. After all, when you choose a washing machine, you understand that it will be in your apartment for years. It must fit your interior design and you should simply like it. You know, shoppers set high standards for augmented reality apps shopping today after Ikea’s and L’Oreal’s apps. Customers drive the market, not vice versa. That's by we are giving customers what they ask for- real-time 3D visualization.
Take this washing machine for instance, it is pretty much the same washing machine that will be delivered to you when you order it.
ARKit was the obvious choice, the most innovative software development kit for AR creation from Apple. This platform revolutionized the whole approach to AR: it made it accessible, easy to use, and absolutely logical. Apart from that, ARKit presented bright realistic 3D models that match the real-world lighting.
But the most important is that this AR app for shopping was built with shoppers on our mind who are the most valuable players in this game, and it was crucial to improve their experience. Recall it, shoppers were skeptical about e-commerce when it all started but now, when they have access to photos, reviews, and full products’ descriptions, they choose online shopping more often. Online shopping is something that gives them the freedom to buy anytime from any place. With this AR app for shopping we relieve their major pain from disappointment “It looked different when I ordered it!”
For shoppers buying EXACTLY THE SAME products means trust. With this AR app retailers are saying something like: “You won’t believe it but you can choose the products you’ve never seen in real world. But when they are delivered to your doorstep, you will realize that they look the way you imagined them.” That’s how seeing becomes believing.
Yes, you can be surprised but a lot of people love shopping at night. And often you don’t have a chance to choose the product you want late at night for instance. Unless you shop in a virtual reality store. That’s one of the perks of online shopping as well.
More than that, we’ve made this AR app for shopping interactive: shoppers can look at vacuum cleaners and laptops from different angles. They can open fridges to look inside and estimate if there is enough space for their favorite pizza. Interaction with virtual objects is another “must be” for e-commerce because shoppers don’t want to be passive consumers anymore.
2017 was the toughest year for brick-and-mortar stores according to CNN with a record number of closings. Shoppers showed that they want to buy online, and that’s how Jeff Bezos became the richest man on the planet.
E-commerce stores offer customers the same things physical stores can offer plus a bit more. They offer them this elusive WOW effect, absolute comfort ( what can be more comfortable than choosing products from home at 2 AM?), and fast delivery. Today ALLO can offer online shoppers zero disappointment rate because customers can finally see the products they are buying from all the perspectives. And be 100% sure that they get the same products delivered to their doorstep.
How did we help the biggest appliance retailer to open 100000 stores? We 've created just one, but it's a virtual reality store which exists in a parallel dimesnion and which you can visit anytime from any place of the world. We at WeAR Studio are excited to be the part of the evolution of e-commerce and provide customers with the most comfortable and personalized shopping experience imaginable.10.04.2018, 16:00