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Augmented Reality and the Future of Retail

12th February 2020

For online shopping devotees, ASOS is the ultimate example of e-commerce done right. With a huge inventory, fast delivery and easy returns, the retailer has always put seamless customer journeys at the heart of its model. No surprise then that ASOS has thrown itself headfirst into the world of AR. Done right, augmented reality has the potential to change the way we shop – turning the experience of browsing and buying online and in-store into an immersive, inclusive, multi-channel experience.

Last year, HoloMe partnered with ASOS to create a retail and AR first: a virtual catwalk that let customers view models through their smartphones as if they were walking in front of them. The tech transformed the digital browsing experience, empowering people to make better, more informed purchasing decisions. And the response was incredible: the virtual catwalk was played around 274,000 times by 156,000 unique customers.

The partnership between HoloMe and ASOS is just one case study in a retail landscape that is constantly evolving. From immersive in-store VR to AI-enhanced shopping experiences, the state of retail is changing like before. So where is AR heading? And what will it mean for retail? Let’s dive in.

Augmented reality and the future of retail

We hear it time and time again: brick and mortar retail is in trouble. Big trouble. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fall of the once colossal Sears, which narrowly escaped liquidation last year after filing for bankruptcy in 2018. But retail experts argue that the demise of these brick and mortar juggernauts is simply evidence of a failure to adapt. There are, after all, those retailers proving that high street retail can live happily alongside e-commerce with the help of digital touchpoints, experiential design, and agility.

So where does augmented reality fit into all this? Here are just some of the ways AR is set to create a more immersive and resilient retail landscape.

  1. See 3D products in the context of your own life – This could mean using an AR app to see how a summer dress or a suit would look in the context of their office. Or in the case of John Lewis’ new virtual sofa feature, it could mean finding a fabric that perfectly matches your wall colour or a couch that fits perfectly in a tiny room. In short, we’re talking about the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ tech.
  2. Try a virtual fitting room – There are loads of reasons why people aren’t willing to face a fitting room: a long queue, mobility issues, lack of time. But AR is making it possible to try on clothes without ever stepping foot into a changing room. Retailers ranging from TopShop to Amazon have all dabbled in the world of virtual fitting rooms. Fast forward a few years, and this feature is likely to become a key part of both online and offline shopping.
  3. Build brand awareness – We all know the potential of AR to blow up (think Pokemon Go), so it makes sense that retailers tap into the buzz to stoke social media chatter, drive engagement and build brand awareness. Pepsi is one retail giant that has used AR to drive brand awareness to promote their new drink. Instead of a standard poster ad, Pepsi used AR to create immersive ads at London bus stops. The YouTube video alone has had more than 8 million views and earned coverage from Forbes and The Verge.

 

HoloMe’s partnership with ASOS marked the beginning of a transformation in retail. As more and more customers come to expect these kinds of experiences when they browse and buy, the retail landscape is set to change in unimaginable ways.

HoloMe is leading the AR communication revolution. Find out more here.

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