AR: the Lifeline the Retail Sector Was Looking forBy Daniel González | Mon, 04/13/2020 - 14:11
A few European countries have begun to trace plans to return to normality after being in confinement for approximately a two-month period, as the widespread of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world. However, despite the short-term recovery projections, sectors such as retail will find it difficult to return to their pre-COVID-19 situation. Today, the phrase that best defines the retail sector’s current situation is either you adapt or you will be wiped out from the map. In an effort to bring retail business back, those companies that decided to go digital before COVID-19 are now seeing how good decisions have led them to increase their sales profit during hardship. Companies that bet on augmented reality (AR), however, have been the absolute winners. In this context, AR seems to be essential. AR is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.
According to MarketsandMarkets, in 2019 AR was a US$1.15 billion business worldwide. Its positioning in the market, like any disruptive technology product, was slow. However, some brands did not hesitate to bet on this type of solution. Sephora and Hugo Boss, for example, applied hardware and software to offer the customer an experience as close to reality as possible if they decided to buy online. They applied virtual showcases and mirrors and improved the quality of the images so the online shopping experience for the potential customer was as close to reality as possible. Today, in times of COVID-19, they have proved that their bet was right. According to Google, “61 percent of consumers prefer brands that offer AR experiences on their websites.”
The example was followed by other retail giants such as Amazon, Ikea and Target. These companies allow the user to see their products in a real environment, thus improving customers’ purchasing decisions. Ikea and Target, for example, allow their customers to see how their furniture would look in their home thanks to the use of their smartphone’s camera. In other words, the customer ceases to be an observer and takes a more active role in the online shopping experience, which also helps to enrich the relationship between the brand and the user.