AR has been around long enough to make waves in retail sectors. There’s no longer speculation about whether or not this technology can drive sales — there’s proof. How exactly does it influence consumers’ purchasing decisions?

AR Is Revolutionizing the Retail Experience

AR lets you see products in your own space before you purchase them, revolutionizing the retail experience. Nothing can compare to such a personalized, accurate visualization — not dressing rooms, online menus, or floor displays. Even your imagination can’t compare to the real thing.

While virtual try-on is one of the most common use cases for AR in clothing and cosmetic retail, furniture and decor visualization is quickly catching up. Some brands have pushed boundaries, experimenting with augmented mannequins, mirrors, and menus to see what people respond to.

Retailers using AR benefit from reduced returns, improved customer satisfaction, and heightened brand recognition because they reach a broader audience and allow people to see products before committing to a purchase.

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Examples of AR Technology Driving Sales

AR has proven itself as a sales driver countless times. Here are some of the success stories from various retail sectors.

Furniture Retail

A national furniture retailer launched an AR campaign during 2017-2018 to let consumers view its products in their homes. Reportedly, customers used its experience 1,000 times per day on average. As a result, it achieved a 65%-69% in-app conversion rate. Also, it saw a double-digit increase in online sales, scheduling over 20,000 online deliveries in an eight-month span.

Food Retail

In 2019, the fast food giant Burger King launched an AR-driven mobile marketing campaign to advertise its flame-grilled burgers. App users would point their cameras at other companies’ advertisements to make them go up in flames, revealing a coupon for a free burger underneath. Ultimately, it led to a 54.1% increase in in-app purchases and a surge in business.

Clothing Retail

Even if you expected AR to do well, how successful it’s been in luxury retail might surprise you. In the United Kingdom, 7 in 10 luxury fashion consumers say brands should provide AR tools as part of the shopping experience.

Burberry has also undergone digitalization, and part of its strategy involved AR product pages that allowed consumers to see a 360-degree view of handbags and shoes. The luxury fashion retailer reported a 26% increase in sales of full-priced goods in the fourth quarter of 2021, attributing its success, in part, to its AR-driven outreach campaigns.

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Psychological Impacts on Consumer Decision-Making

AR shopping experiences are successful because they have a psychological impact. In fact, most U.S. consumers say it influences their purchasing decisions when they use it for virtual try-on or testing. Unlike virtual reality technology, AR grounds you in reality, leaving a significant impression.

Picking something up off the rack is a lot different than seeing it on yourself or in your space. Since sight is responsible for 70% of the information your brain processes, visual experiences are more memorable and personal. This is why virtual try-ons, product visualizers and menus have such a substantial psychological impact.

E-commerce spending is usually driven by the instant gratification of hitting the checkout button. For this reason, there’s something to be said about visualizing products in your own space — it can make you feel like you already own them, bridging the gap between hesitation and impulse to increase your purchasing confidence.

Using AR to Generate Data-Driven Insights

You can gain an impressive amount of data-driven insights on consumer behavior from AR technology. By tracking what they try on or visualize in their space, you can tell what they’re interested in. This way, you can show them hyper-personalized product recommendations.

Algorithms sometimes make errors because they don’t take into account people who shop for special occasions. By tracking which purchased items they’ve tried on and which they haven’t, you might be able to filter out the noise. You can also tell how often they get the urge to shop.

Since interest in retail AR covers all demographics — 92% of Generation Z, 90% of Millennials, 84% of Generation X and 65% of Baby Boomers say they’d use it for clothing shopping — retailers could have access to a vast data pool for their campaigns.

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Technical and Design Considerations to Address

If you want to implement in-app AR experiences for immersive, persuasive retail purposes, you have to account for a few technical and design considerations first.

  1. Markerless AR Development Costs

You’d have to use markerless AR to enable visualization without triggers — which is more expensive than its marker-based counterpart. You’d also have to consider the cost of storing augmented objects on servers, which could be costly if you have a large user base or inventory.

  1. Decide Whether to Let Users Opt-In

Not everyone is okay with data collection, especially if you’re accessing their camera to see what’s inside their homes. Make sure you let users opt-in for data collection. Framing it for the customer’s benefit — being that it enables hyper-personalization — could make them more trusting.

  1. Creating Enough Augmented Objects

You have to consider which products you want to turn into augmented objects. While you could digitalize an entire inventory of clothing or furniture, designing various sizes and offerings to accommodate product variations could be incredibly time-consuming.

The Influential Power of AR Retail Experiences

AR is a powerful retail tool because it has a psychological and emotional impact on consumer purchasing decisions. When they feel more confident, engaged and interested, they’re more likely to hit that checkout button. As more retailers integrate this technology into their online and in-person stores, there’s no telling where it will advance.

Devin Partida is Editor-in-Chief at ReHack Magazine and editorial contributor at AR Insider. See her work here and follow her @rehackmagazine.

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