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How These Retailers Use Augmented Reality to Enhance the Customer Experience

Bringing the In-Store Experience to Consumers’ Homes

AR has also proven an effective way to bring the in-store experience to life in a virtual sense. Rather than customers visiting your store, AR allows them to experience your products and services right in their homes.

Like Lowe’s, home and lifestyle brand Magnolia Market created an app that allows customers to see how their products will look in their homes. They partnered with the AR team at Shopify to incorporate Apple’s ARKit technology into their app.

Introducing this technology has enabled the brand to extend their reach, which is especially valuable considering they have a single brick-and-mortar store in Waco, Texas.

“Not everyone is able to visit us in person, but it was still important to us that the finer details of the in-store experience come through for those shopping online and on-the-go,” said Stone Crandall, digital experience manager at Magnolia. “With this technology, users can see our products up-close to examine the intricacies that make them special and unique.”

Read more about Magnolia Market and how AR tech is changing consumer perceptions >

Anthropologie has also used ARKit, partnering with CVLT to capture detailed, 3D images of their furniture line. They created an app that gave shoppers detailed views of furniture in different fabrics, colors, and shapes, as well as from different angles. The app was so detailed that it even gave customers peeks into what the furniture would look like with different lighting and shadows.

Another ARKit creation, IKEA Place, functions in much the same way.

Home goods aren’t the only try-at-home AR experiences. Gap also plans to bring the fitting rooms home with its DressingRoom by Gap app. And Converse has already done so with its Sampler mobile app, which lets shoppers virtually try shoes on at home, easily sharing the pictures to get purchase validation from friends.

The cosmetics and beauty sector is also perfect for this AR execution. L’Oréal Paris’s MakeupGenius app has been downloaded on Google Play more than a million times. With it, shoppers can virtually put makeup on images of their face. Like in real life, users can blend or mix and match different products to create their desired cosmetic look.

Sephora is also entering the arena of AR-powered cosmetic experiences. It functions a little differently than L’Oréal’s — users must first upload an image of a selfie to which they can apply makeup. They’re aiming to simplify the purchase process and minimize the number of steps users must take to buy.

Incorporating Augmented Reality Into Your Product

Some brands have gone as far as to incorporate AR into the actual product, enhancing not only the shopping experience but the overall brand experience too.

For example, Adidas launched a line of sneakers that unlocked an AR for customers at home. After buying the sneakers, customers would take the shoe home and hold it up to their computer’s webcam so it could read the embedded code on the tongue. Customers would then find themselves in a virtual world which they could navigate through using their sneaker as a controller.

This isn’t Adidas’ first foray into AR either.. They’ve also incorporated it into their marketing campaigns and T-shirt design reveals.

An unlikely AR contender, BIC appealed to its younger customers with its BIC Kids DrawyBook. Children would color on paper, and then their drawings would come to life on a tablet through AR.

Incorporating AR into your product may require more capital due to the research and development and investment in stock. It may be a good idea to test the waters with a smaller AR initiative to make sure it resonates with your target market.

Standing Out and Building Brand Awareness

Some retailers have taken a more out-of-the-box approach to AR, using the technology to build buzz and brand awareness.

Outdoor gear brand Moosejaw introduced the technology for customers to use at home, in conjunction with their printed catalogs. Their main goal was to delight existing customers with their mobile app Sweaty & Wet. As you might imagine, the app was rather controversial: It allowed customers to scan the catalog images and see an X-ray image of models in their undergarments.

Whether you find the move tasteful or not, the app drove a quarter of a million downloads and a 37% increase in sales.

Fashion brand RIXO London also gave customers an at-home experience with AR. Considering that runway shows aren’t accessible to the general population, RIXO London brought the runway show to customers’ homes.

Perhaps one of the most creative examples of AR in retail is Airwalk’s “invisible” pop-up shop. With geolocation and AR, Airwalk created a virtual pop-up shop to promote the limited-edition relaunch of the Airwalk Jim. Shoppers would download the AR app through which they would learn the location of the pop-up.

The Airwalk Invisible Pop Up Store from GoldRun on Vimeo.

In addition to providing consumers a unique and fun shopping experience, the pop-up resulted in $5 million in earned media, and their ecommerce store had its busiest weekend yet.

Source: Shopify

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