Augmented Reality (AR) shopping is here and enhancing the shopping experience. From interactive mirrors to in-store navigation, brands have used AR apps to reach shoppers in novel ways, even in their own homes.

ECommerce forced retail stores to reconsider their approach to attracting in-store purchasing. While many of the largest retailers have online stores, offering both an in-person and online experience, the introduction of technology to the shopping experience has changed how people interact with products, and brands. The journey of a shopper from entering a store, in person or online, to opening the final product at home has changed massively, especially as the pandemic enters a second year keeping stores closed and people shopping online. This has resulted in increased brand engagement and personalized advertising.

So how has AR transformed the shopping journey and where will it take customers in coming years?

In-Store Navigation

AR navigation has transformed the frustrating and often fruitless in-store experience into a seamless and productive journey for shoppers. Where once there were floor staff to guide and assist customers, most stores no longer have helpful staff to guide shoppers. And that is where AR navigation has taken up the slack.

Customers can download a store app that gives them a map of the store and guides them towards the products that shoppers want. Apps allow shoppers to create shopping lists using the store catalogue and then shows the customers the fastest path to reach the products. This also makes it easy to add features, such as product paring and upselling to increase sales.

Try Before you Buy

Most people want to try on clothing prior to making a purchase, something that is impossible to do online, and unadvisable during the pandemic. AR applications have made it easier for people to ‘see’ themselves in the clothing they want to buy.

Lacoste S.A is one of the clothing companies that offer this technology. The LCST Lacoste AR app lets you see shoes on your feet, for example, by pointing the camera at your feet, selecting the shoes you want to see on screen and the image is overlaid on -screen. The app includes music and postcards, making it a fun and engaging experience.

AR is also widely used in real estate. Prospective buyers can tour properties, seeing more than a simple video version of the property, and enjoying a far more immersive experience that is designed to enhance the buyer’s connection with the property.

Magic Mirror

Magic Mirrors are just that. Shoppers can stand in front of a mirror in-store and virtually try clothing on, removing the need to take garments on and off, or even offer private dressing rooms.

People are able to select buyable accessories with hand gestures, switch outfits, and take social media photos to share with friends and family. The feature allows people with different abilities to easily try on clothing. It is also far more hygienic, convenient and cost-effective than having people try on clothing, causing potential damage by makeup smearing or stretching of garments.

Shop From Home

Yihaodian is a Chinese grocery website that aims to compete with brick-and-mortar supermarkets. Using AR applications, they created stores that allow shoppers to experience walking through a supermarket, selecting their items from the shelf and placing them into a shopping cart. After adding everything to your cart, it is delivered to your home.

The AR app allows shoppers to browse as they might in a supermarket, without scrolling through lists of items. Both methods of shopping have become not only highly used during the pandemic, they are also encouraged by government health departments wanting to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

IKEA now also offers shoppers an option to place any item of furniture in their house virtually before deciding to buy it. Shoppers can customize the look by selecting colours, numerous items and viewing the ‘new’ furniture with the existing furniture in the home.

AR in the Product

AR has now also become part of the product itself. Adidas has an app that scans your shoe and then takes you into a virtual world like Star Wars. The AR try-on experience for the Alphaedge 4D Star Wars model even features a live Death Star circling the shoes. Vyking’s software tracks the user’s foot movements, making the virtual try-on experience work in real-time with or without the shoes on.