Retail Therapy, meet Augmented Reality

Excuse me (bump),

Pardon me (dodging motion),

Right behind you (OUCH) <— they stepped on my toe!

Retail therapy. It isn’t as relaxing as the coined name suggests, especially around holidays or during chaotic weekends.

If you’re anything like me, I’ve become increasingly more of an internet shopper, thus avoiding crowds. The convenience, zero lines, no parking-lot nightmares and just simply the comfort of my own home to me, can’t be beat.

There are downsides though…physically trying things on is a no-go, touching or feeling the product is out the window and soul-filling people watching doesn’t happen (deal-breaker, I know).

Would the drawbacks not be so bad if your shopping experience from your couch could take your retail spree up a notch or 10?

What I’m talking about is, trying things out and on before you buy them, but not moving your tuchus from that comfy chair you’re sitting in at home.

Say, Whaaat?

The retail industry is being bombarded by augmented reality or AR. Changing the ways and experiences of every single shopper, AR makes spending hard earned money less of a chore and more of the old fashioned, therapy experience we spoke about earlier.

AR, with the use of an application through a smart device, takes the real-world in which you live in (or say you do, just kidding) and augments a holographic image overlay directly on top of it. It’s like using Snap-Chat filters but with real items that can be placed on top of your body, within your home and anywhere you’d like, available for purchase. This option offers a realistic point of view, ultimately boosting your shopping experience and upping the convenience level by, dare we say a million?

AR can transform your very own living room into a virtual fitting room. Many companies such as L’Oreal, Timberland and Ikea, have already implemented this technology. Not only does it increase their sales, it aids in customer relationships, repeat customers, purchasing experiences and reduced return rates.

Virtually trying on a pair of shoes without actually unveiling them from the box, finding a spot in the crowded store to sit, putting them on, lacing them up and walking around in them seems so futuristic. Phew…even typing that seemed like a chore, well, the option is here and only gaining steam.

Heck, why stop at shoes? Let’s try on make-up too!

Click picture for Sephora site.

Stores such as Sephora, have innovatively implemented virtual make-up counters through AR applications which use the camera on your phone. Customers no longer have to sit on a

rigid high-top chair and have a make-up consultant try on 3 different shade of lipstick or foundation and scrub faces off in between applications because it wasn’t right “fit.”

Now, you, me, and all your girlfriends can have a night in and try on numerous products directly onto our faces with no makeup remover needed with the use of an AR application.

Sometimes shopping in stores doesn’t help customers visualize how an item will look in their home. This applies to furniture and home repair companies specifically. AR apps are trickling into these segments as well.

Through a smart device, the tailored application should be pointed at a designated area in the room in which the specific piece of furniture in purchasing question should go. An augmented overlay of the item will appear, to scale! Go ahead and choose the color, style and fabric desired. Simply click add to cart, and voila, you just bought yourself a customized claw-footed love seat you, interior decorator, you!

Here is one last implementation of augmented reality flooding the consumable markets. Get this…virtual pop-up shops! Yes, they are a “thing.”

How does that work? You think to yourself.

Click picture for Ikea site.

Airwalk, was one of the first companies to use geolocation and AR to create an “invisible” pop-up shop. Their marketing campaign and strategy included the limited-edition relaunch of the Airwalk Jim, one of their most popular and sought-after pair of sneakers.

The only way customers could purchase this shoe was to download the application and go to the virtual pop up store location. Can you believe that this marketing technique resulted in $5 million in revenue and topped their charts for the store’s busiest ecommerce weekend yet?

All in all, brands that take advantage of augmented reality will be the brands that satisfy more customers long term. It creates a unique personalization and customizable experience for the shopper all the while increasing brand awareness, asserting forward thinking and applying innovation from a business perspective.

From paint color selections, jewelry shopping to virtual fitting rooms, there is no need to question if your purchase was the correct one. Go out there and get augmented!

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