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Nov 12, 2021

7 min read

Augmented reality: Boosting retail sales since 2016

Augmented reality: Boosting retail sales since 2016

In recent years, augmented reality (AR) has become important for most retail companies. Giants like Ikea use it to boost sales.

AR apps offer a new level of shopping experience. (Photo: Unsplash)

According to Ikea’s own data, its AR app was downloaded over 13 million times on iOS devices in the first two months since its launch, which demonstrates the popularity of such an app. Are you curious about whether AR can take your sales to the next new level? We’ve got the answer.

The shopping experience at another level

Customers like to see a physical item before they purchase it, but with most shops closed during the pandemic, this was mainly impossible for millions of people. Online shopping grew drastically, and the inability to physically see an item before purchasing it became an issue for a fair percentage of buyers. This is where AR comes into its own. With AR, you can maintain the customer experience, and even improve it. AR adds value to the shopping experience, and here are three ways how.

1. AR creates an emotional experience

Emotions are well known for often being the trigger when making a purchase. Stimulating the right emotions is what retail companies usually focus on. They strive to create and market products that engage the emotions. Now add AR into the picture, and a potential buyer can try out a product in the comfort of their home with absolutely no pressure to complete the transaction. Freed from the burden of making an obligatory purchase, a buyer subconsciously places more trust in the seller and is more confident that the decision to buy the product is made by them alone. In this way, such shopping apps create long-term happy and returning customers.

2. The feeling of ownership

AR gives customers more time to explore a product. They can experiment with it more thoroughly and get a feeling of what it would really look like in their space or what it would look like when worn. As the customer visualizes themselves with the product, this creates the illusion that they already possess it. AR creates this experience of owning a product before it is bought. By trying out a product in AR, the customer builds an attachment with the item, which they start to get used to and want to feel again. Thus, they are more likely to make that final step and complete the purchase.

3. It removes the feeling of doubt

It is human nature to use logic and emotion before deciding whether to purchase something. Comparing the pros and cons is always a good idea. With AR, customers can clearly assess their options and consider the product’s characteristics. Moreover, research shows that customers are 11 times more likely to proceed with a purchase if they’ve seen the product in AR. Interestingly, Wayfair found that it received 20% fewer returns for items that customers had tried out through AR.

AR in numbers

AR has become widely accepted by the masses, so the use of AR has naturally grown year after year. The pandemic really pushed it to a peak of popularity. Here are 7 relevant statistics compiled by the designhubz:

  • AR has helped retail conversion rates to jump by 20%.
  • Retail brands that switched to using only AR apps increased conversion rates by 90%.
  • 61% of shoppers prefer to shop online if they can use an AR app.
  • 77% of app users prefer to use AR apps to check out different colors and options.
  • 45% of online shoppers see AR apps as time savers.
  • AR apps have increased conversion rates for retail brands by 40–80%.
  • 50% of online buyers are convinced that AR apps help them make the right decision.

If these 7 statistics aren’t enough for you to make the decision to transform your business with AR, consider Ikea, which launched the first ever AR app in the furniture industry.

Ikea Place

Applications like Ikea Place allow a customer to see an item up close. They can see what it would look like in their own space and can even try out different versions of the same product. According to research by Reality Interactive, the conversion rate is 94% higher for products with an AR app compared to those without. Moreover, AR adds a new dimension to online shopping. Now, let’s talk about other industries that have utilized AR to boost sales.

Other uses of AR in boosting sales

The same technology is used in the eyewear industry. Customers can try out different styles of glasses without leaving home. Companies in this industry have been using AR as a virtual mirror for years now, making life easier for millions of people. Similarly, big names in the cosmetics industry, like Sephora, Bobbi Brown and Max Factor, offer a digital “try it on” for makeup.

Another interesting use of AR is the HotSpring Spas AR app, which allows you to browse a range of hot tubs. You can visualize what a specific hot tub would look like in your garden. Once you’ve decided to buy, you can export the data from the app to quickly complete the purchase through a certified dealer. Thus, the app provides three different functions with no pressure to buy!

By letting buyers check out what an item would look like on them or how would it fit into their space, the creators of these apps have given customers time to think. They can assess a product before purchasing it, and there is no pressure to make an instant decision. Instead, they can take their time, which usually ends up with a sale and a long-term happy customer.

Apart from taking pressure off the customer, AR adds real value to the customer’s shopping experience in other ways as well. Some of the apps are already really impressive, and we strongly believe that this type of online shopping experience has much more to offer before it achieves its full potential.

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