For business owners involved in the selling of physical products, one of their primary concerns is figuring out how to get their merchandise in front of people’s eyes and give them the opportunity to experience it and be enticed by it. Of course, the in-person “kick the tires” approach still reigns supreme, but since we live in a world connected remotely, and most recently in a world under COVID restrictions, this is not always possible or in some cases even desirable.
Traditionally to get the word out, the common approach is for business owners to post photographs of their products on their website, on social media or print them and distribute them with their physical marketing material. Alternatively, if they wish to demonstrate a product’s functionality, show it from multiple angles, or add a human element and some post-production magic, a video is used instead.
Although it is true that digital photography and video are an inextricable part of our culture today, many are unaware of how limiting it can be compared to a newer and rapidly emerging technology: augmented reality.
For the unaware, augmented reality is a new technology that gives users the ability to use their smartphones’ camera (or other devices) to see digital content mixed in with the everyday world. This can consist of hyper-realistic 3D models, text, images, video content, and much, much more.
Here’s a basic example of digital rugs being displayed in a real-life environment:
So while digital photography and video do, of course, have their benefits (video obviously being the more immersive and revealing of the two), in both forms of media, users are either shown the product from a specific angle or are led down whatever path the video camera dictates. If you watch a video demonstrating the features of a car, for example, you can’t peek under the hood or do a 360 degree walk around the vehicle. Whatever the cameraperson sees, so do you. Photographs are even more restrictive.
With augmented reality technology, the constraints of “being led around” are no longer an issue: when users experience augmented reality, they can literally walk around the product and experience high-quality, lifelike 3D renditions of the store’s merchandise from virtually any angle. They can lean in closer to the 3D models and see a wide range of details impossible to capture with a single photo or video.
Moreover, if the product is something buyers need to see in a specific context (such as by previewing how a refrigerator matches with their kitchen decor) and “try out” in their home, augmented reality allows that to happen by anchoring the experience to a floor, wall or tabletop. This has been used for a number of things ranging from furniture, flooring, appliances, and even artwork.
The advantages? Aside from the ones mentioned above, here are some more:
- Customers will have an idea of how the product fits in with their decor, not the decor of a room chosen for a video. How does the product match with the color of the walls or the design of the furniture? Will the product even fit in my home comfortably?
- Customers will be less likely to return products they’ve already proven matches with their home decor and have been demonstrated to be a good fit for their home. As you know, the return process can be time-consuming and messy. Moreover, there’s never any need to deal with potentially damaged or lost returned items and the hassle that can come along with that.
- It’s been proven that previewing a product with “try before you buy” augmented reality technology actually increases a customer’s inclination to purchase the item. Whether it’s based on the excitement of trying this (very exciting) technology or the increased personalization of the experience, your sales will reflect this.
- Whether your store is local or international, mom & pop or a large retail chain, by putting your product on the app stores, you’ll be opening up your products to literally an entire world of shoppers. Moreover, they’ll have a clear and perfect idea of what they’ll be getting before the actual purchase takes place. There’s no need to visit the store to see the actual merchandise.
This is a remote world: workplaces are beginning to operate remotely, education and training can now take place remotely in unimaginable ways thanks to online teaching platforms and we’re all becoming connected with people we may never have had the opportunity to meet just 15 years ago. As the retail world slowly moves away from brick and mortar into digital, businesses will need to follow suit in this competitive world and give their customers the flexibility they need.
We’re completely fascinated by this amazing technology and its implications for sales and marketing. It’s an amazing next step that gives customers more control over their purchases and gives businesses the flexibility to diversify their offer in remarkable ways. It’s a future we see rapidly expanding in the years ahead and a future we’re heavily invested in.
If you’d like to learn more about how your business can benefit from augmented reality, please reach out to us today – we’d love to speak with you!