Augmented reality is impacting the retail world and providing eyewear specialists with the opportunity to redefine the shopping experience.
Showrooming — the shopper practice of checking out products in a store and buying them online at a better price — has always been a retail problem. But with the advent of smartphones and the expansion of online retailers, showrooming went from headache to full-on migraine.
Yet, technology continues to reshape modern retail. The year 2020 could mark the tipping point when augmented reality (AR) goes from being an interesting, but future possibility, to an experience that consumers come to expect. Ultra-connected and tech-savvy, today’s shoppers crave a reinvigoration of the shopping experience, which is actually an opportunity for brick-and-mortar stores to take advantage of the latest tech developments.
AR technology is the repackaging of the real-world environment, but with a supplement — digital data – overlaid on it. This extra information is visible to shoppers through their phone screen, desktop or tablet.
Used to wielding their smartphones, people readily take to AR for its innovative approach and, of course, simplicity. Integrating AR into your marketing efforts can enrich the shopping experience and make it fun and engaging, while boosting sales and adding value to the shopper experience.
AR is hot
AR has experienced a surge of interest and the global market is predicted to reach $198 billion by 2025. Furthermore, a survey of adult shoppers in the United States conducted by Interactions Consumer Experience Marketing also shows the power of AR. Some 71% of those interviewed said they would return to a retailer whose services are supported with AR.
Here are six ways AR technology can deliver a benefit to your eyewear business:
1. Create brand awareness
Although only 1% of retailers currently use AR, 63% are either rolling it out or are considering whether to adopt the tech in the next two years. Being an early adopter means you will be providing a surprising shopping experience. Integrating AR into your stores can set you apart as especially innovative and modern, which makes you more attractive and brings in larger numbers of potential customers.
Eyewear retailers that take advantage of augmented reality can build buzz and brand awareness. They will also be those more likely to satisfy more customers and revitalize their business. When developing an AR strategy, avoid using the technology simply for flair. Consider how AR technology would best-suit customers' customer's shopping experience, and you're more likely to find a sustainable long-term strategy.
2. Invite customers inside your stores
AR-enabled store windows bring a new meaning to window shopping. They entertain potential customers and can entice passerby’s who become curious as to what is on offer inside. This increases foot traffic into stores, raises customer engagement and sales.
OWIZ Street from FittingBox is an interactive storefront window specifically designed for eyewear. It allows passersby to virtually try on frames in 3D, from outside your store and share the experience by social media. This grabs attention and attracts shoppers by showcasing selected brands in an original way. OWIZ Street can help stores stand out from competitors, advertise offers 24/7 and provide an immersive experience that shoppers remember.
3. Enhanced instore information
Once shoppers, step inside, AR technology can also be integrated into their visit. Some companies provide mobile app-driven experiences. With the app, shoppers are encouraged to engage with in-store signage and displays. For example, the app can pull up product details, including customer reviews, color variants, and pricing.
The use of an app can make physical shopping easier and faster and the only limit is the imagination. For example, some apps allow customers to create shopping lists, which then guides them through the store using the quickest route possible. Anything from product descriptions to suggested combinations and virtual coupons that can be redeemed at the checkout can be included with AR. It could even be a short explanation about the history of the company and its values. Anything is possible with AR.
4. Optimize your store space
Finding the perfect frame can be a stressful experience for shoppers. There are more than 2000 eyewear brands with 100,000 references and more than 400,000 color combinations. Given this staggering choice, it is little wonder customers can spend up to one hour selecting new frames and still leave unsatisfied.
Virtual fitting rooms, such as the OWIZ Plugin by FittingBox, can make the shopping experience fun again with a virtual mirror. Instead of being rushed or frustrated by trying on physical frames, such virtual fittings can be more appealing.
Shoppers can quickly try on your entire frame catalog virtually with ultra-realistic renderings of their chosen frames appearing on their face via webcam live streaming or photo upload.
Shoppers also get to see styles and colors not currently in stock. Such approaches optimize your store conversion rate and extend your product range without having to increase in-store stock or carrying inventory costs.
5. Gain customer insights
According to estimates, up to 60% of shoppers look up product information and prices while using their mobile phones in stores. Augmented reality can provide a critical solution to meeting those shoppers' needs. The AR data provided to shoppers can include recommendations to personalize the experience even further or even links to reviews by other customers.
By providing such cross-selling recommendations, AR not only delivers improved customer experience and ROI for the business, but also gain insights to drive further developments. With greater insights into the consumer’s behavior, it is possible to obtain a deeper understanding of their decision-making criteria. By channeling the data back into the business so the whole customer journey can be continuously refined to create a spiral of continuous improvement.
6. Improve customer engagement
Customers want to engage with you. Indeed, 61% of shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer AR over ones that don’t. What is more, according to surveys, 40% say they are willing to pay more for a new shopping experience through AR.
So, to ensure a returning customer database and to help futureproof your business, AR is worth investigating. It can create customer engagement and loyalty, while increasing your conversion rates.
As an eyewear retailer seeking a sales edge, AR technology can help you attract new customers while reinvigorating your relationship with your current ones. As your customers have a richer shopping experience, they will share their feedback with friends and relatives, ensuring there is a great buzz around your stores and that will improve your brand awareness.
Finally, AR can assist you to grow your business sustainability. Such AR solutions are, in many ways, the future of retail.