May 13, 2021
At Adweek’s recent Social Media Week event, Jeremi Gorman, Snap’s chief business officer, said she believes augmented reality is at an inflection point in marketing technology similar, to the emergence of social media in the early 2010s and the web in the late 1990s.
“Getting it right now is just as important as scoring the right URL in 1999, and the right social handles in 2010,” she said, according to Adweek. “We all know how fleeting the moment is to stake your claim as an early mover, and that moment has arrived for AR.”
AR campaigns gained significant traction during the pandemic as restrictions on in-person interactions prompted more retailers to introduce virtual online try-ons. But retailers are also trying out other applications as AR tools have become easier to implement on social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram as 5G rolls out.
A new university study from City University of Hong Kong and Singapore Management University identified four broad uses of AR in retail settings, along with examples:
- To entertain customers: AR-enabled experiences can drive traffic to physical locations. Walmart collaborated with DC Comics and Marvel to place special thematic displays with superhero-themed AR experiences in its stores. In addition to creating novel and engaging in-store experiences, the displays encouraged customers to explore different areas in the stores.
- To educate customers. AR can bring a new level of interactivity that helps translate information. Toyota and Hyundai have utilized AR to demonstrate key features. In-store navigation apps at Walgreens and Lowe’s overlay directional signals onto a live view of the path in front of users to guide them to product locations and notify them of special promotions along their path.
- To facilitate product evaluation. AR helps users visualize how products appear in their actual consumption. IKEA’s AR-enabled Place app overlays three-dimensional models of furniture onto a live view of customers’ rooms.
- To enhance the post-purchase consumption experience: AR can enhance and redefine the way products are experienced post-purchase. Through a companion AR app, animated Lego characters spring to life and interact with the physical Lego sets, combining physical and virtual gameplay.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Did augmented reality make a significant breakthrough during the pandemic? What applications do you see becoming more commonplace in the near-term for retail?
“Bottom line: AR is ideal for e-commerce growth.”