Just as consumers are turning to retailers for products and services, retailers are turning to augmented reality technology in their stores. Retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and even smaller chains are using the technology to boost sales and provide an improved shopping experience. However, consumers are also seeing augmented reality in retail as a way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by information. When you walk into a store and pick up a pair of shoes, you now have a virtual 360-degree camera inside the shoe that identifies it instantly. The idea isn’t simply to give you the name and type of shoe, but to help you quickly find the perfect size and color.
There are still plenty of skeptics but augmented reality is poised to become a major selling point for both consumers and businesses. What does this mean for the future of retail? Companies like Walmart are already making a name for themselves by offering coupons and even gift cards for purchasing items with no extra effort.
A shopper enters a store, goes into the shoe section, chooses a pair of running shoes on a shelf and selects a different pair of running shoes. The system identifies this by sensors that detect body heat and other factors such as skin tone and body fat. The system then matches that data with the store’s database of previous purchases.
In a manner of speaking, a customer is shopping in a brick and mortar store, but she doesn’t have to leave her home or drive to the store to do so. Instead, she visits the store, chooses a product and proceeds to the checkout. The same technology is then being applied when the consumer is online. With augmented reality in retail, the consumer’s shopping experience can be transferred virtually to the web. She won’t even need to leave her computer!
Another example of augmented reality in retail is food. Groceries and restaurant inventory can be remotely tracking using handheld devices. This allows restaurants and grocers to know how much inventory is available, where it is located and how it is being used. This allows them to increase sales or cut back on waste by knowing which products are most in demand.
A similar application is being developed for car navigation systems. With augmented reality software, consumers will be able to find information about local gas stations, restaurants and other shopping areas based on their location. In fact, GPS applications will be able to offer up-to-date real-time pricing information. This would be particularly valuable in the case of coupons. Once the consumer finds an area with coupons available, he or she could simply show the coupon to the checkout person at the counter, and the system will automatically apply the discount.
Perhaps the most popular application of augmented reality technology is in retail displays. Retailers are realizing that customers want to look around, so they are installing retail displays in stores. Whether the display is simply a photo-sculpted image of the store or an interactive 3-D interactive display, retailers are sure to find that augmented reality technology is quickly becoming the latest must have feature for any store.
Whether retail stores use portable screen devices or more elaborate display systems, the concept of augmented reality is here to stay. In fact, retailers are already implementing this technology in their stores. And not only are they implementing it in their store windows, but also in their websites. So, if you own a retail outlet, take a moment to check out what augmented reality technology can do for your business!