In eCommerce and social media, augmented reality is revolutionising the customer journey. Since we each carry an advanced computer and camera in our pockets at all times, we’re constantly connected to opportunities for advertising and exploring new products and experiences.
With augmented reality’s (AR) integration into many of the apps we use every day, new features are added to our customer journeys to improve our experience.
What is augmented reality (AR)?
At its heart, augmented reality is an interactive experience where real-world environments are enhanced or added to by virtually generated media. These mediated experiences are becoming a big part of how people learn, play, and purchase.
You may have been experiencing AR without even recognising it! If you’ve done any of the following, you’ve engaged with augmented reality:
- Played Pokémon Go
- Engaged with interactive Snapchat or Instagram filters
- Use an interior design or decoration app to explore changing colours in your room before making a permanent change
- Use Google Street View while travelling to see on-screen directions overlayed in your actual environment
AR can apply the principle of combining virtual elements with real-world imagery on a smartphone screen to the customer journey. Some companies on the cutting edge of technology have already deployed AR experiences for their customers.
How can customers use AR?
When customers are making online purchases, there can be a lot of anxiety about making sure they are getting what they need. This is especially true of household items and furniture. Will the chair fit? How will the rug look with the colours in your space?
With AR, customers can approximate how an item will look in their environment and make on-the-spot purchasing decisions. This helps streamline the entire customer journey and allows customers to make informed decisions that increase satisfaction.
How is AR being used today?
Enhanced shopping experiences: In retail, users can employ AR to find products and help them get information on a product. This can allow users to ‘test’ a product in their environment before purchasing or use an interactive experience to see how a product works.
View items in your home with Amazon: [Amazon’s View In Your Room][Amazon AR View] feature allows users to see products in their space using their smartphone camera. Customers simply open their cameras on supported products, and the app generates an image of the product within their real-world environment.
See how clothes will fit with ASOS: ASOS’s [‘See My Fit’][ASOS’ New ‘See My Fit’ Tool Lets You View Clothes On 16 Different Body Shapes (bustle.com)] feature allows customers to see their chosen outfit on a variety of models. This gives potential buyers the chance to find the model that best represents their body type to see how a dress or outfit will look on them.
The future of AR: Predictions for 2022 and beyond
The applications for augmented reality are vast and span all industries. As the technology to create new AR experiences becomes easier to access and use, more companies are exploring adding immersive AR to their customer journey. Some trends in 2022 already include:
- Better virtual experiences: Since the world has become increasingly reliant on technology, building better AR experiences to enhance time at home is at the forefront for many companies. For instance, organizations like Wikitude have created apps to help students learn complex concepts using AR. A collaboration between HoloLens and Microsoft Mesh allows videoconference users to see their cohort in a 3D space to create a sense of togetherness.
Developments in AR are impacting how customers interact with the world and products. As more and more social media and commerce companies integrate AR into their customer journey, sellers have more opportunities to use AR and connect with customers in new ways.