It’s quite possible that you will never have to leave your beautiful apartment to buy clothes again. It’s also possible that your kids would be surprised to learn that long ago you needed to leave your cozy apartment and drive a car to a shopping mall to buy clothes and grocery.
“Dad, how come there were no shopping apps for Android before? So you actually had to buy furniture to check how it looks in your apartment? Seriously, dad?”
“Yes, it was the world without augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality in e-commerce. But it’s finally over, and I don’t want to talk about it, daughter.”
Augmented reality (AR) has created this valuable connection between digital data you see online and physical things you see in stores. With hundreds of different apps for shopping, it has become easy to choose, click, and buy without a splitting headache.
Virtual reality made it simpler: today it’s possible to explore things under a cozy wozy blanket. In other words, AR and VR have finally made shopping entertaining and comfortable for everyone.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said that soon using augmented reality (AR) for marketing will be as trivial as having a website for an e-commerce store.
And you know that for most shoppers today, no website = no shopping.
In other words, customers would expect retailers to use augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) shopping tours to alleviate shopping and make it more comfortable. More future shoppers, millennials and alpha generation kids will search for an AR app before buying a product.
So I want these sneakers or this new game for my PlayStation, how can I actually see all these before buying?
So there are high chances that you won’t need to download those shopping apps for iPhone in a couple of years (because admit it, you already have a lot of strange apps you never use).
Virtual and Augmented Reality for E-commerce for Buyers
But why do consumers expect that?
Modern shoppers are different. They regard consumerism as the way to achieve instant communication and entertainment. They work hard and they want to spend money with pleasure. They love thick catalogs but they are tired of reading them.
Modern shoppers check if there are shopping apps for Android the moment they buy a new smartphone. If there were killer apps for grocery shopping, they would use them without thinking twice.
And don’t forget that with a free Internet access, kids become active shoppers as well. Kids are ready for that, especially generation alpha, who embrace technology as naturally as if they were toys.
They will know about VR headset when they turn 2, and they will be able to download apps for shopping when they are 3. Do you think it’s possible to surprise them with anything by the time they are 6?
Yes, if you offer them a shopping experience that can relieve their stress, help them avoid disappointment, save their time and energy.
Using technology in retail solves many problems for them:
Using AR and VR Relieves Stress
Consumers want to avoid the clash of expectations and reality. On the one hand, they want to buy things online because this way they have more choice. On the other hand, clients are afraid they will be bitterly disappointed. Here is the list of the major reasons for disappointment when shopping online for clothes:
“I can’t check if it fits”
“I am not sure about the quality”
“I am not sure about the texture”
“I am not sure about the color”
“I can’t wear it right now!”
Augmented reality can’t help with “I can’t wear it right now” for sure, but it can be a real aid in all the other cases. Because modern AR is offering a high level of visual interaction with objects.
You will have all the information written on clothes and you will also be able to touch and feel it to make a final decision.
GAP, one of the most recognizable clothes companies in the world, gives its customers a chance to try on clothes from home.
Virtual Reality Shopping Decreases the Level of Disappointment in Online Shopping
The same thing about furniture: you can buy a sofa but you won’t be able to check if it fits your living room before you place it there. And it’s risky.
Sometimes we spend lots of efforts and time on creating a perfect design and get “almost” what we want. That “almost” hurts more than touching a hot stove.
Lowe’s, the company that sells quality appliances, paint, patio furniture, tools, flooring, hardware and more, decided to decrease the level of stress of its shoppers to the minimum level and gave its customers a chance to design and remodel rooms in 3D space.
It’s an awesome example of virtual reality shopping.
The process of total immersive visualization is divided into 2 parts: first customers check Lowe’s products using tactile design process via their iPads. Second, they receive the chance to visualize their work in full size with the help of Oculus Rift.
Imagine that you have just picked up all the elements for your bathroom, and a sales associate is offering you to see it and to experience it. If you like the design, then a sales assistant helps you with purchasing out all the selections.
More than that, the 360 video you created is available for sharing and watching. So you basically can come home and enjoy your future virtual bathroom in VR headset while sitting in your still-imperfect bathroom. It’s the new level of virtual reality shopping.
Saves Time for Your Customers
Those of you who have tried buying furniture for the apartment know that it can take a lot of time. Measuring, choosing, ordering. AR speeds up the process of purchase. And transforms it into magic.
You think I will tell you about The IKEA app for furniture? I am sure you know that you can buy furniture in AR with IKEA augmented reality application. I want to tell you about a fully functioning AR app that helps you in arranging furniture in your house in just a few clicks. You just see the whole room at once.
It was created by Asher Vollmer, a popular mobile game developer. This new app is absolutely amazing: it allows you arranging and moving all the furniture, home plants, and smaller objects like vases, to fill the empty space of your room.
It helps you visualize your future apartment before you have even started buying stuff. It’s actually the most convenient solution for you if you want to buy furniture in augmented reality to avoid pain and disappointment.
I see this as a particularly useful thing, because I always buy a lot of things I don’t need. I think this app can be one of the most useful shopping apps for iPhone for me.
There are also obvious benefits of AR and VR for businesses.
Stronger Emotional Connection with Target Audience
It turns out consumers have been using augmented reality (AR) not knowing about it for years already. How many of your friends were busy catching Pokemon several years ago?
Have you already installed this makeup app on your smartphone? Most millennials have tried AR and VR for shopping, liked it a lot, and now they obviously want some more.
Sephora, a well-known cosmetics brand, can offer you more. Apart from advising on cosmetics for you, it has a cool tutorial that can teach you how to moisturize and apply foundation (among other useful things).
This AR app adapts to your face and shows you where to apply foundation with precise accuracy. It creates the sense of trust because you trust an AR app the most precious thing you have: your look.
And customers say that’s better and more effective than watching tutorials online.
To Reach Broader Target Audience
AR/VR/MR are for everyone. Just think about it: technological innovations attract the attention of the whole family instantly. It doesn’t matter if it’s a VR headset or a new blender. It’s something new and unexpected. AR/MR/VR are the tools for Wow effect.
LEGO has just launched an awesome augmented reality application to help kids assemble brick buildings and visualize them before playing. It’s so cool to see fully animated LEGO stories: there is a dragon breathing fire and there are firefighters rushing to manage the problem.
The app is absolutely free, and the goal of the company is to test how little players and their parents will react to this innovation. They say that most parents buy Lego for themselves even if they say that they buy it for kids.
So the reaction of parents will also be interesting to trace and analyze. Maybe it’s a good opportunity for many parents to come out of the closet and acknowledge the fact that they love LEGO even more than their kids do.
Yes, there were times when there were no AR shopping apps but I would prefer to forget about those cruel times like I forget about the times of inquisition.
These were the times when you didn’t have a chance to check what you were about to buy. Augmented reality and virtual reality have altered the way we see and experience things, and how you buy them as well.
Buying has become easy, funny, and really pleasant. It decreases the level of stress, minimizes the disappointment, saves lots of time, and creates a strong emotional connection between brands and customers.
Tech giants have done everything they could to help consumers get ready for the trivial utilization of AR and VR. Apple created ARkit for iOS, and it’s already available to all iPhones and iPads owners. Those who have Android won’t lag behind as well, Google has introduced ARcore for them.
The transformation of retail is still happening, and the biggest world brands know it first, of course. Partially because they have the best marketing teams and partially because they create these trends as well.
IKEA, l’Oreal, Dior, TopShop, McDonald’s, Sephora, M&Ms, Lowe’s, eBay, Timberland, Bic, LEGO, BMW.
If you are thinking about joining this team, it’s about time to do that. Because it will be too late in a year or two.