Augmented Reality and the Future of Mobile



Brought to you by WBR Insights


All around the globe, companies are harnessing the power of augmented reality to provide consumers with immersive shopping experiences.


For some time, mobile has gifted customers the ability to shop online from the comfort of their own home. But that's no longer enough. In an increasingly competitive market, companies must be all the more innovative if they are to continue competing at the highest level - especially as big players raise the bar with pioneering technology.


As is often the case with new technology, AR took a while to get off the ground. But now consumers are embracing it. What's more, thanks to AR development platforms like Apple's ARKit, the AR business case is growing as more and more enterprises seek out new ways to deploy the technology to reach mobile customers.  


While most companies now have a mobile platform for selling their products, some, such as those that specialize in items like home decor and clothing, have the additional hurdle of encouraging customers to purchase online, as consumers often prefer to physically touch and see these items up close before committing to a purchase.


Understanding the Market


Millennials are a new breed of consumer who demand an increasingly immersive mobile experience. As a consumer base that comprises 80 million people in the US, spending some $600 billion per year, according to Accenture, this is a generation raised on technology and wants to see it in every aspect of their lives. By integrating AR into the buying process, retailers are forming a bond with this lucrative consumer group, encouraging loyalty and paving the way to long-term relationships.


The Evolution of Mobile Shopping


A great example of AR in action can be seen in the home decor retail sector. In years gone by, most people would have insisted on visiting home goods stores in person to view things like curtains, bedroom furniture, and carpets, taking home samples and snapping photographs to get a better feel for the products on display. However, augmented reality apps now enable consumers to choose furniture, curtains, etc. from home and see how they would look in their space. One such app is the "try before you buy" IKEA Place AR app from IKEA. "IKEA Place lets you place true-to-scale 3D furniture in your home using the lens of your iPhone camera," explains Michael Valdsgaard, former Leader of Digital Transformation at Inter IKEA Systems B.V. "You see the scene as if these objects were real and you can walk around them and interact with them, even leave the room and come back. It's really magic to experience."


Thanks to apps such as these, the likelihood of a customer being unhappy with their online order is significantly reduced, as are return rates - a win-win situation.


And it's not just wardrobes and soft furnishings consumers can get a feel for without leaving the house. Whether they're looking for a new pair of Nike or Adidas sneakers or considering a new line in cosmetics, advancements in AR mean that all manner of 3D product visualization experiences can now be had via any mobile device from home, during lunch breaks at work, or while commuting. Not only is this advantageous for those who live fast-paced lives or work awkward hours, but it's also appealing to people who have mobility issues or who simply live a long distance from their favorite store.



AR Saves Money


By investing in Augmenter Reality apps, retailers can reduce costs in multiple areas - from staff to in-store inventory. As points out, "Retail shops can use AR to cater to customers' needs to try out different products without in-store assistance. [...] With the use of AR apps, retail outlets can reduce in-store inventory, thus minimizing costs for shipping and storing a large inventory."


With traditional retailers finding it increasingly difficult to compete with their online counterparts, this is a big win.


A Bright Future


Predictions for the future of AR look bright on all fronts. Research shows that consumers in increasingly large numbers are embracing AR. 71% of consumers state that they would shop at a retailer more often if it offered augmented reality, according to Digi-capital research, with 40% willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it through augmented reality.


Retailers are responding in kind. There are now AR apps available in just about every area of retail, from cosmetics to pet supplies. While there are numerous ways to excel at mobile commerce, the evidence suggests that AR could be a real game-changer for brands that can find a smart way to utilize the technology in the future.


Return to Blog