Technology is quickly transforming the retail environment as we know it. Retailers are increasingly beginning to adopt new tools such as Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), to craft engaging experiences that add a whole new dimension to traditional retailer-consumer interactions.
According to IDC, retail will become the No.1 industry for AR and VR spending, which means we are going to continue seeing ground-breaking retail apps pop up with new features to help users make better informed and more fun purchases.
Artificial Intelligence, especially Visual Search, is also going to grow, managing 85% of all customer relations by 2020, as predicted by Gartner. Its role is to help consumers find what they want quicker and easier, while bringing personalization to a higher level.
These technologies are still young, yet consumers are already demanding them. A report by the mobile app developer Apadmi, revealed that 26% of consumers want to see retailers deploy AI tools in retail apps, especially if it will help predict what they want. And almost a third (29%) said thought that brands should invest more in AR and VR tech for product visualization and customization purposes.
Read also: Mobile App Development Trends 2017
Many retailers have already developed innovative apps that reinvent customer journeys and brand relationships. Let’s take a look at some of these apps…
Even though “v-commerce” as such is still in its bare infancy, brands like TOMS, Tommy Hilfiger or Dior are implementing this tech to sell products, boost their brand image and make shopping experiences more fun.
Like AR, VR offers a new way of visualizing products, of creating content and engaging with brands that traditional commerce lacks, from your own home. These apps talk for themselves…
Retale is a location-based mobile app that immerses users in retail environments, where they can shop local offers in a 3D VR world. Users can explore weekly deals and VR showrooms, and add any products they like to their shopping list on the app.
They can interact with items through video, product links, and clippable coupons. To purchase something, users can receive navigation information to guide them to the nearest store.
2. Alibaba Buy +
Alibaba launched a virtual shopping mall where customers can buy from real-life stores like Costco, Target or Macy’s, in the US, for example. It is a completely immersive shopping experience that can be enabled through a Google Cardboard device.
The user just needs to gaze the items they like to be able to interact with them, and can pay for the item with a few nods.
3. Lowe’s Holoroom
Moving away from virtual stores, VR is more scalable when used for in-store experiences. This is what Lowe’s Holoroom latest development is all about.
The home improvement giant, Lowe’s, teamed up with HTC Vive to launch VR experience that allows users to build their own home improvement project virtually, such as tiling up a bathroom, for example. The end gain of this, as this expands across different Lowe stores, is to have more knowledgeable customers and forge more emotional ties with them.
Augmented Reality has become a much more robust and scalable technology in the past few years. By superimposing virtual elements onto the real world, users can unlock a myriad of possibilities that blend both worlds in a smartphone screen. (Download this infographic for more insights on Augmented Reality: The Next Big Shift in Mobile and Retail Experiences.)
4. Migros Discover
The Swiss supermarket, Migros, recently updated their mobile app with a new feature called ‘Discover’ and uses AR. Users just need to scan any of the 5,000 + products in the store to access product information, real-time ratings and reviews, recipes and nutritional values.
This is the most functional use case of such tech, with 62% of shoppers already wanting to scan products on their phones in-store to retrieve reviews and recommendations.
5. The Apollo Box
The Apollo Box is a US-based online marketplace who is driving lifestyle e-commerce with Augmented Reality.
They integrated AR tech into their app in order to let users visualize items before purchasing them. The platform lets users get familiar with the products, virtually interacting with them in real environments.
This AR feature boosted their conversion rate by 25% in just a few months and brought up the time spent on the app by 10 minutes, compared to those users who were not using AR.
6. Sephora Visual Artist
The makeup brand offers all sorts of solutions through their app: from virtual product trials to makeup tutorials, to exclusive offers and promotions.
Sephora’s Visual Artist uses Augmented Reality and facial recognition to let users virtually try on different items and looks. You can play with lip colors, eyeshadows, and false lash styles, and if you like it, you can buy it straight away!
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is disturbing the retail landscape in many ways. It can deliver enhanced experiences for shoppers at each step of the customer journey.
Personalization, visual search, and chatbots are the three most common use cases of this tech. They are becoming ‘must haves’, as shoppers ultimately demand personally tailored attention from brands and 72% of US millennials already believe AI will be able to accurately predict what they want.
7. Neiman Marcus: Snap. Find. Shop.
Neiman Marcus’ app uses visual search to ‘snap, find and shop’ items from your smartphone. It allows users take a picture of any time they like, whether it’s on a magazine or in the streets, and the app will pull out any visually similar items from its own inventory.
Their online site also uses this tech, providing visitors with visually similar suggestions to the products they look up.
8. H&M Kick Bot
The official chatbot of H&M navigates users through different outfits, directing them to the items they are looking for. After defining sex and style, it suggests different outfits which can be liked or disliked. If they are disliked, the bot will make new recommendations and once the user finds an outfit they like they have four options: shop it online, save it for later, share with friends, or see a new suggestion.
Read also: Top Chatbot apps
9. Under Armour Record
The sportswear brand, Under Armour, developed a health-tracking app using IBM Watson. The app, Record, tracks and analyzes workouts, sleep data and nutrition, providing personalized recommendations for nutrition and training advice.
Thanks to AI, users can enjoy a personal trainer experience in the palm of their hands.
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