Imagine trying on clothes in a dressing room, and instead of having to peek your head around the door and flag down a sales associate to ask for a new size, you can instead request different items with literally the touch of a fingertip. That is exactly what you will find in designer Rebecca Minkoff’s Manhattan flagship store, where standard mirrors have been replaced with interactive surfaces, allowing customers to see style recommendations, ask for alternative sizes, change the room lighting, and even make a direct purchase. These high-tech fitting rooms are only one way that advances in technology, and specifically visual reality and augmented reality, are opening doors in unprecedented ways in the retail space.
The Next Big Thing in Retail
Retailers are experimenting with this technology in new and exciting ways. Once perceived as a fad for gamers and the entertainment industry, AR/VR allows retailers to create immersive experiences that loyal customers crave and new buyers rave about. Customers can preview products without actually touching the merchandise, recreate a room for renovations, and produce memorable in-store experiences. Not only does it give retailers a unique edge over competitors, but it also offers an opportunity to enhance their omnichannel strategy, and provides some extremely useful benefits for both retailers and shoppers.
Brick and Mortar to Online Benefits
AR/VR technology has been enhancing the online shopping experience for a while, from virtually trying on glasses with the use of a webcam to picking out paint colors for a digital home. While it is the brick and mortar stores that will experiment with AR/VR in more ways looking forward, online will only benefit. From Amazon’s grab-and-go shelves to Lowe’s virtual reality renovation room, this trend will likely continue as the novelty of online shopping lures customers back in.
Invaluable Customer Data
The more data collected about your buyers, the better you can run your business. By analyzing information such as what customers try on first and what they end up buying in virtual fitting rooms, retailers can determine purchasing practices on and offline, influencing future merchandising decisions. Some in-store AR/VR may entice the customer to give additional information, such as name, size, and email, making it less invasive than a sales associates asking face-to-face.
Shared Data Across Departments
Information gathered from these technology initiatives works best when it is shared among all that influence and interacts with the customer. From sales associates to marketing departments to call centers, if the retailer can make the experience more personal by letting the customer know the dress they loved is back in stock at their nearest store, they will dramatically increase loyalty to their brand.
This technology will change the landscape of retail, but how can these innovations increase your sales? The bottom line is online and in-store, customer preferences are always changing and retailers need to embrace new technologies to keep up. Successfully implementing an AR/VR strategy should work cohesively with your broader omnichannel approach, increasing the flow between in-store and online.
AR/VR technology has been enhancing the online shopping experience for a while, from virtually trying on glasses with the use of a webcam to picking out paint colors for a digital home.