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Augmented reality as a boost customer shopping experience tool

The mobile phone has become one of the most important types of media through which consumers interact with brands and make purchasing decisions.

AR is another tool when it comes to driving sales and increasing brand value using mobile devices. Markets today are increasingly driven by the needs and desires of consumers. As technology advances, these desires change, and it is imperative for a brand to keep up with these changes.

1. Let customers try before they buy

Potential customers have always wanted to try a product before purchasing it. Fitting rooms, beauty swatches, car test drives, and many other related concepts attest to the effectiveness of this sales strategy. AR shopping is one of the growing trends in retail.

Using AR, potential customers can model and try on makeup, garments, and a wide range of home furnishings without directly interacting with them. AR eliminates the need for large physical inventory, allowing customers to try on or select dozens or even hundreds of products in search of what best suits their needs.

Augmented reality applications in this area have already begun to proliferate as more companies realize the benefits of AR. Facebook's social media augmented reality modules allow users to select samples of cosmetics and accessories, simulating how the user will look. For example, the first AR ads on Facebook allowed people to try on virtual glasses using their device's camera.

Recently, the cosmetic industry has embraced augmented reality with enthusiasm. Brands such as Sephora and L'Oreal have partnered with Perfect Corp to enable their customers to digitally see how their makeup looks. Augmented reality is especially valuable for online cosmetics sales, as consumers almost always need to evaluate a particular makeup item by trying it on themselves.

Another area where AR can be useful is in the creation of a virtual fitting room. When it comes to shopping for clothes, fitting rooms are a necessary evil. Customers need to lug stacks of clothes, and employees need to constantly return them to their place. In addition to this, the store is limited to available stock when it comes to offering options for shoppers.

An AR fitting room eliminates many of the hassles by allowing shoppers to access their digital wardrobe library with the touch of a finger. Brands such as Topshop and Timberland have been at the forefront of developing AR fitting and changing rooms, providing their customers with a virtual clothing selection experience.


2. Additional information and experience

Augmented reality allows companies to add digital components on top of their physical location or products. Customers scan a product or object and receive either additional product information or additional brand experience.

This application of AR extends to numerous industries and markets. For example, ticket company StubHub created an app that allowed fans to visualize views of the field from different locations in order to select suitable tickets.

Starbucks has turned to augmented reality to digitize the experience of visiting one of its coffee shops. Users can scan items in the coffee shop and launch a virtual tour that complements the physical environment.

In the automotive industry, Hyundai and Mercedes are rolling out AR apps. Hyundai was the first to create an AR driver's manual, and Mercedes took the concept one step further. Mercedes owners have a feature called Ask Mercedes, which combines an AI assistant with an augmented reality interface and can answer many questions about the car.


3. Supplementing printed materials

Augmented reality can take printed materials such as business cards and brochures to the next level with a virtual component. Users scan printed materials using their mobile devices and gain access to additional information and ways to connect with the brand.

For example, a user scans a brochure at a specific location and a video starts, highlighting some aspects of the information being conveyed and adding a dynamic element to the static text in the brochure. Another option: the business card is supplemented in AR with contacts, through which the user can contact you with one tap on the screen, whether it be email, phone or social networks.

AR-branded content allows creators to incorporate dynamic virtual elements into text, enhancing interaction.

4. Create buzz around the brand

Augmented reality can also be used as part of an indirect sales and marketing strategy. While previous use cases for AR have focused directly on making sales easier, AR can also be used to boost brand status.

Creating a new, unexpected, or fun augmented reality experience can bring a brand to life. AR is a relatively new phenomenon for most people, which means that a well-crafted AR experience will get people talking and create lasting memories. Because people prefer a brand that makes them happy and content, this type of exposure can pay long-term dividends.

The Pepsi campaign is a great example of using augmented reality to create noise. Pepsi placed an AR screen on the wall of the bus stop, exposing passers-by to attacks by tigers, UFOs and robots visible through the AR window. Having played on boredom while waiting for the bus, Pepsi used unusual effects in augmented reality to create a news feed and strengthen its brand.

Following suit, Uber ran a similar campaign at the Zurich airport, creating an AR experience for its passengers, and received over a million views on Youtube.

Using such strategies, companies can generate millions of dollars from the media. An augmented reality ad campaign can differentiate a brand from the competition and generate sustained discussion and recognition.


5. Use augmented reality in B2B

Augmented reality is poised to transform the B2B experience of customers and suppliers in a variety of ways. The B2B sales process has always been fraught with a tug of war between customer expectations and what the salesperson can actually deliver. AR has the potential to improve the entire sales chain.

One of the most significant areas in which AR can improve B2B sales is creating dynamic presentation material. The old model was to equip salespeople with brochures, flyers, and possibly a PowerPoint presentation. Compare that to a sales force that is digitally equipped with a dedicated AR app that gives you a virtual 360-degree view of your product line. It's easy to see which sales team will prevail.

AR sales tools can allow customers to see and interact with products in as much detail as they want, from a general overview to a detailed inspection of individual components. By bringing a product to the conference room, augmented reality gives customers greater access to the information they need to make a decision.

AR is also a good tool when it comes to customization. Typically, customers are looking for as many individual and specialized products and solutions as possible. Managing these requirements on the part of the seller is not always easy.

Augmented reality tools help customers take an active part in the development of their products. Data from the application can be digitally transmitted to the supplier in real time, providing a smoother feedback loop. AR creates a bridge between customer expectations and supplier performance.

AR is also useful in after sales support. Oftentimes, customers get their hands on user guides or online repositories that are not very helpful or difficult to navigate. Augmented reality makes customer support more flexible and interactive, from AR instructions to remote technical support via AR.

Augmented reality is more than just a novelty or a new frontier in gaming. She will be one of the driving forces behind innovation in sales and marketing over the next decade. By using AR, companies will be able to improve the experience they offer to customers, leading to increased business and sales opportunities.