How can augmented reality help retail?

Talk about virtual reality (VR) and most people think of those Oculus Rift headsets that you wear on your head to play video games or explore new worlds.

Talk then about augmented reality (AR) and you then think about smartphones playing Pokemon Go, the craze the swept the nation not so long ago and had people going to some very unusual locations to capture certain characters within that game.

But aside from that, does VR and AR have any real use in retail and more importantly, can it help increase revenues? According to new research by analyst firm ABI Research, AR will see major adoption in the retail sector, but not in the way many have predicted.

The analysts were downbeat about the uptake among customers in the brick and mortar environment but was more positive about AR’s use among the retail workforce and online shoppers. That said, the analysts predict that by 2020, three percent of e-commerce revenue will be generated because of augmented reality experiences, or around $122 billion in revenue worldwide.

So, where it is being used...?

Lacoste LCST
But retailers are trying out AR in stores. Lacoste has developed its LCST Lacoste AR mobile app that allows customers to try on shoes. It also features AR thorough window displays and in-store signage. The campaign has been successful with over 30,000 customer using the app to look at products in 3D.

Argos
Argos has become the first UK retailer to launch augmented reality-enabled Lego models through its app, giving customers the chance to view full scale, animated 3D versions of Lego toys. Using an iPhone or iPad, customer can see a digital version of the Lego Star Wars Kessel Run Millennium Falcon, the Lego Disney Princess Sleeping Beauty Fairytale Castle and the Lego Ninjago Movie Quake Mech, in addition to 30 other toy sets.

Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Mirror at Westfield
Charlotte Tilbury has two interactive ‘Magic Mirrors’ for the launch of Charlotte’ second flagship store at London’s Westfield Shepherds Bush. The mirrors allow customers ‘try on’ virtually each one of Charlotte's famous 10 Makeup Looks.

German drugstore DM
German drugstore chain DM are using a product from Scandit called MatrixScan to streamline merchandise management processes. In this case, AR overlays digital content into the “real-world” view of a shopper’s smart device screen. So, rather than simply displaying a physical tag listing a product’s social media rating, a retailer could let a customer scan a barcode and pull up a live AR feed of online commentary and reviews. Or shoppers can scan a whole shelf and identify items of interest, then focus in on individual products for specific details such as ingredients, colour and size.

John Lewis Wallpaper Visualiser
Retailer John Lewis is using an AR tool to enable customers to virtually play around with wallpaper samples. It allows shoppers to virtually ‘try out’ wallpaper samples on their own room, before committing to buy. Customer can upload photos of a room in their home, select wallpapers and see what they look like on the wals of their room. The beta version of the visualiser can be found here.

Yoox
Yoox has partnered with Lumyer to introduce augmented reality filters for its customers. Its mobile app has a set of filters enabling Lumyer’s over 16 million users on iOS and Android to virtually try, share and shop a selection of quirky designer accessories from Yoox. The AR enables users to see themselves trying on handbags, sunglasses and jewellery.

Ikea
Ikea’s mobile app allows customers to view products in AR in their own home, finding out if a product will fit in specific rooms. It uses Apple’s new Augmented Reality ARKit, the app includes 3D and true to scale models of everything from sofas and arm chairs, to foot stools and coffee tables. The technology gives customers a real sense of what the furniture, furnishing and accessories they’d selected would look like in their own home.