Technology is constantly evolving to be more efficient and innovative, which significantly alters our daily behavior. Among these technologies, we can assume that in the coming years the so-called “augmented reality” will take an increasing role in every aspect in our lives, including more integration with our purchasing decisions.
Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, whose computing power continues to increase, now support more powerful software. The smartphone boom is revolutionizing the world of electronic commerce and how we interact with it. Augmented reality, geolocation, and virtual testers are no longer a sci-fi vision of the future and, according to experts, these present great opportunities to improve business today.
IBM Research scientists have launched a mobile shopping application for mobile terminals that combines augmented reality with in-store retail to provide personalized product information, recommendations, comparisons, coupons, links to reviews, and special offers.
The mobile app, being developed by IBM’s Research lab in Haifa, Israel, overcomes the challenges of real time product details on the internet that in-store consumers don’t have access to while they shop and browse for details.
“This is a neat way of providing customers with more information about products, which they would normally [research] on the Web,” said Jill Puleri, IBM retail vice president. “It’s also a way for a retailer to target and change behavior, and get some cross-selling and up-selling going with consumers.”
How the App Works
Upon entering a store, shoppers can opt to download the augmented reality app on their smartphones or tablets. Once downloaded, they have to create or update their profile by registering: either via loyalty cards or their telephone number.
After setting the profile, the video camera of the mobile phone can be used to scan product details. Retailers’ backend system, powered by IBM Smarter Commerce software, captures the scan details and the augmented reality technology overlays digital details over the images to offer personalized information such as dietary needs, pricing, environmental factors, ingredients, reviews and discounts that apply that day.
Further, the app can be integrated with social networks if a user opts in, which will allow shoppers to directly interact with friends and read comments about a product.
“In the age of social media, consumer expectations are soaring and people want information and advice about the products they’re going to buy,” said Sima Nadler, Retail Lead, IBM Research. “By closing the gap between the online and in-store shopping experience, marketers can appeal to the individual needs of consumers and keep them coming back.”
The new mobile app will also serves as a platform for retailers to interact more with their customers. Retailers will now able to customize the shopping experience based on the understanding of consumer likes and dislikes, and offer related products.
“Aside from the ability to suggest up-sell and cross-sell offers in the store itself, retailers will have the opportunity to gain invaluable insights that can help optimize floor plans and product arrangements in their stores,” IBM researcher said.
An Augmented Shopping Experience
Holition, the luxury marketing firm and AR laboratory which serves luxury clients like Tissot, De Beers, Boucheron and Tacori, is also creating a personalized interactive augmented reality digital platform to showcase various products.
The platform allows customers to try virtual goods first before purchasing right in front of their computer.
“We are trying to push AR forward as a tool that realistically encourages the customer to believe in that product — to take ownership in understanding that product,” says Holition brand director Lynne Murray. “Our experiences are unbeatable, really, and that’s what we strive for.”
Holition AR platform will lets consumers virtually entering a shopping center or store and experience futuristic shopping.
“We are pursuing active ways in which the other senses can be integrated into augmented spaces, whether that be touch or sound,” Murray says. “A lot of our brands say, ‘About 50% of our product is ensuring customers can feel the weight of it.’ So, we’re looking at how to include haptic interfaces to our experiences to allow us to communicate multiple sensory experiences.”