How Immersive Technologies Transform Retail Business

The 21-st-century generation is a child of globalization. Centuries of technological progress didn’t pass unnoticed as now our world is more connected than ever before. However, how much has globalization and trade growth influenced consumer behavior and the retail industry as a whole? Being surrounded by endless choices, modern customers are fed up with advertising and countless offerings. In this regard, how is it possible to capture buyers’ attention? While most retailers are undeniably concerned about this urgent issue, immersive technologies appear to be a perfect solution to this problem. Does it sound intriguing to you? Then read on, and let’s discover how AR/VR technologies can boost retail business.

Immersive Technologies & Current Retail Industry Challenges

Retail Business Shifts Online

As the global pandemic doesn’t slow down, offline purchases are again problematic, so online retail is gaining even more importance. E-commerce is growing at an incredible pace, outstripping all forecasts. Opportunities for online shoppers are increasing every day, and fierce competition is forcing sellers to improve their service. Nowadays, almost every industry goes online so as not to lose competitiveness. In the struggle for the wallets and hearts of customers, more and more businesses implement new approaches and technologies such as AR/VR.

In particular, user habits are changing too. With the ability to go shopping in a couple of clicks from their smartphone, buyers don’t hurry to return to physical stores. It’s a well-known fact that people quickly get used to the features that make their life easier. Accordingly, current trends in consumer behavior are based on convenient online shopping capabilities that constantly stimulate businesses to digitalize their brands to correspond to customers’ needs. On the one hand, such a tendency provides a wide range of beneficial opportunities for retailers as it enables them to reach a new niche – online users. On the other hand, it also poses several challenges because it’s harder to stay unique and catch users’ attention in an online environment.

As you can see in the chart below, 2021 is associated with the significant growth of consumers who purchase online.

Modern Buyers Are More Demanding

Fashionistas want to know if a cute jacket or a new lipstick color will suit them. Homemakers are wondering if the sofa from the store will fit into the interior of the apartment. These are typical questions that worry online shoppers, and the lack of answers can lead to a refusal to purchase. This is where augmented and virtual reality in retail come into play. These technologies allow your users to “try on” products before buying, thus helping to remove all customer objections.

Returning to the Subject of This Article: How Can AR/VR Technologies Benefit Retail Industry?

Being a proven tool to boost multiple industries, such as entertainment or healthcare, to mention just a few, immersive technologies confidently enter retail. In the following paragraphs, we gathered key insights on how AR/VR technologies transform the retail industry, both from retailers’ and customers’ perspectives.

1. Choose Products with Augmented Reality

The great thing about online stores is that it’s cheaper for both the buyer and the seller. Yet, many online customers get stuck at the stage “I need to try on clothes and shoes” or “measure the sofa.” How is it possible to solve this problem? With AR, it’s easier than ever. AR shopping gives customers more information about a product. It enables them to interact with it from the comfort of their home. Thus, due to AR technology, buyers feel more confident when choosing a product online as they have the ability to preview it in real-life circumstances.

Is AR shopping suitable for your business?

Currently, there are three widespread ways for using AR in online shopping:

  • Fitting on body-worn goods (e.g., clothes, shoes, accessories, headphones, jewelry, glasses, wigs, cosmetics, etc.).
  • Trying on goods placed in a particular environment (e.g., cars, furniture, items for decorating houses, etc.).
  • Interactive products (e.g., electronics, design and layout of apartments, etc.).

Smart Tek Approach

As your steady XR development partner, Smart Tek also doesn’t stay apart from modern trends. Hence, we developed an AR Hand Tracking Application. It’s an efficient solution that allows your customers to buy jewelry through an interactive AR or MR interface. As a result, buyers get the required service and guidance when picking up a ring without visiting the store.

2. AR/VR Training

Generation Z requires a distinct approach, both as a consumer and as an employee. Young people learn better through immersing themselves in gamified and interactive environments. For example, retail workers can learn right on the job using AR technology and a tablet: an employee points the device’s camera to the shelf and gets prompts on what to do and how. Another example is using VR glasses to simulate communication with a customer. Just imagine that the system would offer a ready-made script, giving hints in the form of keywords. Thanks to such an interactive approach, the seller would be able to reproduce the speech on his own in real life. What is more, with VR technology, you can arrange tours of the office or store for new employees and introduce them to the workplace.

Is AR or VR training suitable for your business?

Notably, AR/VR training is a perfect solution for retailers that have physical stores.

Smart Tek Approach

Are there any similarities between retail and manufacturing? At first glance, they have nothing in common but don’t jump to conclusions. Both of these industries require a specific approach to staff training. Hence, our VR Training Platform for Manufacturing is an excellent example of efficient virtual training that provides users with unique immersive experiences. This state-of-the-art solution offers the most engaging, efficient, and experiential training, allowing manufacturing companies to advance employee performance, effectively train new workers, diminish costly errors, manage possible risks, and control emergencies.

3. 360 ° Video

360° videos are a great way to experience virtual reality without a specific headset. If you want to provide a flawless experience for your users but you are afraid that it will not be available to everyone, this option is a perfect solution for your retail business. This technology is available on any device while being as informative as possible. Modern technology opens up vast opportunities, so take advantage of them to satisfy your customers and help them make the right decision. This will help increase your company’s turnover, gain a competitive edge, and move to the next level.

Is 360 ° video suitable for your business?

There are two possible uses of 360 ° videos in retail:

  • 360 ° video can be used to demonstrate space (e.g., real estate objects, showrooms, photo studios, etc.).
  • It is also helpful in presenting conventional products (e.g., it enables users to see a dress on a model from all angles or even in motion, etc.).

Smart Tek Approach

While everyone can create 360 ° video using a smartphone, Smart Tek also specializes in creating unique 360 ° life-like virtual environments. Impressed? Then explore our VR Bike Tour project to see how it looks in action. We managed to design the most immersive and engaging way to present your community or city quarters to investors and potential clients, so this virtual tour is undoubtedly worth your attention.

How VR Technologies Affect the Retail Market

Statistics that speak louder than words.

  • According to Forbes, 40% of shoppers are ready to overpay for a product if they get the opportunity to test it in virtual reality before buying. A store that offers this opportunity not only increases profits but also enhances the level of customer satisfaction. All in all, it’s a well-known fact that a satisfied customer always tends to come back for new purchases.
  • BizReport conducted a survey, where 61% of buyers admitted: the presence of VR technologies in a store stimulates them to buy something. Furthermore, virtual promotion is more efficient than a seller’s consultation, a discount, or an engaging advertisement. Consumers said that after testing the product in virtual reality, they could buy it even if they did not plan to purchase anything. VR increases user engagement, builds trust and loyalty among customers and stores. Consequently, retailers that offer VR experiences usually attract more customers.
  • As reported by CB Insights, 57% of mall visitors who have visited a VR entertainment park or ever tried a VR experience will return to the mall to shop. On average, with the opening of VR entertainment, the flow of new visitors to the shopping centers increased by 1.2 – 1.5 times, depending on the size of the VR park. Virtual reality technologies stimulate demand, make it easier to choose and buy things, and attract customers’ attention.

How Expensive Are AR/VR Technologies in Retail?

The popularity of augmented and virtual reality is growing, and so is its availability. Nowadays, many companies offer their clients the possibility of developing augmented or virtual reality. Prices in this market can be very different. To make it easier for you to navigate, let’s define what the cost for AR/VR development depends on:

  • A well-thought-out concept: if you already clearly know what you need, this dramatically simplifies the path to the result, and at the same time, reduces the cost of the project.
  • A range of possibilities: the number of different objects, actions that can be performed with these objects, and other opportunities that you want to provide to your users influence the price of the final solution because the more functions you need, the more expensive the development would be.
  • A platform for implementation & tech stack: there are many options, and all have their own cost ranges. Perhaps you already have your application, then there will be less work.

Approximate costs for VR development will be as follows:

  • Architectural visualization — starting from $3 500
  • VR training simulators — starting from $4 900
  • VR learning management system (LMS) – starting from $10 000
  • VR simulation lab – starting from $12 000
  • 360° virtual tour – starting from $3 500

Approximate costs for AR development will be as follows:

  • Simple AR app with ARkit/ARCore/Vuforia excluding 3D modeling services — starts from $3,500
  • 360 virtual tour — starts from $3,500
  • Architectural visualization — starts from $3,500
  • Object recognition with computer vision — starts from $6,000
  • Facial features recognition app — starts from $6,000
  • Outdoor navigation — starts from $7,000
  • AR Training experience – starts from $6,500

On a Final Note

In the modern competitive environment, retailers should try different roles to stay on-trend. Sometimes, they have to be media companies to promote their products; sometimes, they function as social networks to reach a broader audience, while sometimes, they even become game producers to engage new customers. After all, people go to the store not only for shopping. For many buyers, it’s also a way to have a good time and get impressions. In an oversaturated market, retailers compete not only for the buyer but also for the viewer. With this crucial challenge in mind, it’s logical to conclude that companies that promote products using augmented reality and develop new ways to use VR technology will become major players in the retail and entertainment markets of the coming day.

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