How augmented reality enhances the retail customer experience

Startek Editorial
Startek Editorial

May 11, 2023 | 5 min read


Shopping has changed drastically over the years and with the emergence of augmented reality (AR) technology, it looks like this trend is only going to continue. The way we shop is changing. With the rise of e-commerce, customers are becoming more accustomed to shopping online and having items delivered to their doorsteps. But as convenient as online shopping is, it can often be lacking in the personal touch that comes with brick-and-mortar stores. This is where augmented reality (AR) comes in.

What is augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality is an interactive experience that blends computer-generated content with the real world. Consumers have quickly become familiar with AR through applications such as filters in the multimedia messaging app Snapchat and the popular mobile game Pokémon Go. Augmented reality continues to develop in a wide range of applications. And today, AR technology is increasingly expected as part of the buying process by retail consumers.  Retail brands are making use of this technology to build a more real-world shopping experience online.

Types of augmented reality 

To enhance consumers’ shopping experience, retailers have introduced AR technologies. Catalog apps use augmented reality to allow shoppers to see products in different environments. For example, when buying furniture, the item will appear in the foreground when shoppers point the camera at the appropriate room or while buying glasses shoppers can see what each pair might look like on their own face.

AR technology has four different capabilities.

  • AR based on markers

A marker-based AR system, also called image recognition or recognition-based AR, detects an object (the “marker”) in front of the camera and displays information about the object to the user. When a device using the AR application detects that marker, the app replaces it on the screen with a 3D version of the corresponding object. The user can then view the object from a variety of angles.

  • AR without markers

Unlike marker-based AR, marker-less AR does not require a specific object in the real world to trigger it. Instead, users can place a virtual object anywhere they wish. The most popular system for image recognition in the industrial sector today is marker-less AR, an AR solution that overlays digital content on a real scene.

  • AR based on location

In location-based augmented reality, no physical markers or identifiers are required to operate. As opposed to marker-based augmented reality, where the product or shop location is typically connected, location-based technology does not require such a connection.

  • AR based on projections

The projection-based approach shines synthetic light onto physical surfaces and, in some cases, allows users to interact with it. This type of AR is ideal in medical and industrial settings as it enables the doctor or worker to see instructions and diagrams but also has applications in entertainment. A projection-based AR technique extends and reinforces visual data by displaying images on the surface of 3D objects or space.

Also Read: Optimizing call volumes for improved retail customer experience

What AR strategies have been adopted by e-commerce companies to enhance CX?

Using augmented reality enables e-commerce companies to manage customer expectations. Clients can preview products or experience services in their own environment before making a purchase. With AR, they are more likely to select the right product the first time.

A virtual try-on solution: “It looked great on the mannequin.” - Everyone has said this at least once after trying on a new garment and realizing it did not fit. Shoppers want to have confidence in what they're buying and have the opportunity to make sure it's what they want.  AR helps online shoppers understand what they're buying and how the items will look on them. AR is widely used in virtual try-before-you-buy applications for clothing, makeup, accessories and glasses. As well as engaging consumers with the product, driving sales and satisfaction, used in this way AR can help retailers to minimize returns that are commonplace in online shopping.

Placement preview: You might not be able to tell how a television screen will look in your living room at the store — or on a small screen on your computer or phone. A preview placement lets customers see what a product will look like in their own environment. This is a good way to give shoppers a clear picture of the product in a familiar environment.

Interactive user: Users receive contextual support on-page while using software, websites or applications, based on their actions. By scanning the product, AR user manual apps indicate the buttons in live environments using graphical arrows and animations.

One of the greatest limitations of e-commerce is the difficulty of representing a physical, three-dimensional product in a virtual, two-dimensional environment. With AR, consumers can better understand the product they're buying and bridge the gap between shopping at a physical store and shopping online.

AR can help you:

  1. Engage customers more effectively: AR is inherently interactive, meaning AR keeps your consumers coming back for more. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Even if they don’t buy during their visit, the enhanced engagement means they’ve developed a relationship with your brand and your product and made a memory — making them more likely to remember you when they decide to buy.
  2. Discover new customers: Creating an engaging AR campaign helps get people's attention in a noisy world.
  3. Reduce returns: With AR, customers get a lot more information about a product than with a static image or a video. With 3D views, you can show consumers how the product would appear in their space so they will know what to expect when they receive it.

The benefits of using AR to enhance retail CX  

1. Increased customer engagement – AR can be used to create interactive experiences that will capture the attention of customers and get them excited about a product or service. For example, Ikea created an app that allows users to see how furniture would look in their homes before they make a purchase. This not only saves customers time and money, but it also increases the likelihood that they will make a purchase from Ikea.

2. Improved customer service – Retailers can use AR to provide customers with real-time assistance when they need it. For example, Lowe’s has developed an app called “Fix in Six” that provides step-by-step instructions on how to fix common household problems. This not only helps customers solve their problems quickly, but also reduces the need for customer service representatives.

3. Increased sales – AR can be used to increase sales by providing customers with additional information about products or services. For example, Sephora has developed an app that allows users to try on makeup before they make a purchase. The use of augmented reality in retail is providing customers with a more immersive and interactive experience. AR can be used to provide customers with an enhanced view of products, allowing them to see how the product would look in their home or office. This can be particularly useful for furniture or décor items. In addition, AR can be used to create virtual fitting rooms, so customers can try on clothing and see how it looks before making a purchase. This technology is also being used to create interactive displays in store windows, which can provide customers with information about products and specials.

4. Inform customers: AR can provide customers with educational information about products, such as how they are made or how they work, which can enhance their understanding and appreciation of the product.

5. Personalization: AR can help personalize the customer experience by offering customized recommendations and product suggestions based on the customer's preferences and behavior. AR can also provide personalized instructions and tutorials to help customers use a product.

 Augmented reality is quickly becoming a game-changer in the retail industry. Retailers are now able to provide customers with interactive virtual shopping experiences that are both engaging and informative. Customers can explore product options, learn about new products, engage with sales associates virtually and make their purchases without leaving home. AR technology has the potential to revolutionize how customers shop and interact with retailers, making it easier for them to find what they need quickly and efficiently.

To learn more contact us

Stay connected

Please enter a valid email address.
Please select the checkbox before submitting the registration form.
Thank you for sharing your details. We look forward to keeping in touch.