Everyone in the retail space is looking for the next big thing — and many are placing their bets on augmented reality (AR).
In fact, some predictions estimate that AR will be a $149 billion industry by 2025. And as brands leverage the technology to wow customers throughout the retail experience, it’s clear AR’s potential extends far beyond just Pokemon Go.
But brands need to remember: AR is not a magic bullet. Brands that use the technology as a simple fix or fun gimmick will see little impact in the long run.
As brands continue to find more use cases for AR, the ones that incorporate it into their customer experience with real intent and proper preparation will find the most success.
When executed effectively, AR creates a more unique and engaging user, product and brand experience. But that only happens when brands use the tech thoughtfully so that it can actually improve the customer experience.
According to Miki Devic, founder and CEO at doyodu, customers are no longer thrilled by the simple addition of an AR option; after all, they can already turn to Snapchat or Instagram for an easy use case.
Now that the novelty of the technology is gone, brands must use it to actually make their experiences easier or more relevant for their customers.
The best applications of the tech are practical ones that educate customers about products or give them more interaction with a brand than they’d otherwise experience.
For example, Toyota incorporates it into both its showroom and online experience, allowing customers to get an up-close and more immersive look at car models that replaces the usual gallery experience of an auto website.
If they go in the showroom, they’ll be able to digitally see inside the brand’s C-HR hybrid model to understand how the technology actually works.
This represents an example of a cohesive, exciting and educational experience that incorporates AR throughout the customer journey, not just in single gimmicky applications.
Additionally, Gucci launched an app using AR that lets customers try on shoes by simply aiming their cameras at their feet.
The photo feature allows customers to not only model the shoes, but easily share their photos via social media.
This not only gives customers a better understanding and perspective on the products, but adds an element of fun that extends beyond just a gimmick.
Both examples show a commitment to incorporating useful and exciting technology into a long-term strategy that actually helps the customer and personalizes their experience.
If you understand the way the tech can add value to the experience you offer your customers, you’re one step ahead of many.
But you also need to make sure you have the backend processes in place to support whichever use cases you plan to implement.
Meticulous management of product data is key to effectively using AR. Expanding your presence on any new channel requires strict adherence to product descriptions, technical specifications, categorizations and more — and AR is no exception.
A product information management mistake can destroy any benefits an AR use case might bring. Fortunately, there’s a solution:
In the end, AR is one of many new tools that brands can use to improve their customer experience, especially in an increasingly competitive retail space. And like all emerging technologies, you can’t just jump on the bandwagon.
Understand how you can use the tech to create real value for your customers and make sure the details are covered so you’re prepared to deliver a truly excellent experience.
Marcel Hollerbach is CMO and board member of Productsup, a Berlin-based tech company providing an award-winning solution for product content integration, transformation, and syndication. A serial entrepreneur, Marcel is also a founding partner of Venture Capital Fund Cavalry Ventures, which specializes in early-stage investments in European tech startups.
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