As Gen Z demands augmented reality to be part of their shopping journey, savvy retailers are first to serve the shifting marketplace. As a result, the last few months have been full of incredible AR retail experiences that have helped businesses boost both engagement and sales. If you need ideas for a relevant retail AR campaign, read on for a compilation of retail AR projects.
Do shoppers expect AR?
We’ve all emerged from the lockdowns more digital, and one of the top industries to witness this rapid digital transition is retail. While 24% of shoppers were confident to make purchases on their mobiles back in 2019, the mobile-first shoppers have almost doubled since then (41%).
Even more telling of increasingly digital customers is that 92% of Gen Zs, our post-millennial generation, expect and want to use augmented reality tools for e-commerce. The younger generation admit that AR experiences feel more personal and make them pay attention to ads. With nearly two-thirds (64%) of Gen Z committing to buy almost everything online, brands must ensure top-notch e-commerce strategies.
Luckily, we see many businesses developing qualitative AR projects to engage the growing customer base and digitally enhance shopping journeys. Here we will share some of the latest AR-powered retail experiences. We hope the list helps you find inspiration and meet the needs of the shifting marketplace.
World’s first entirely augmented reality superstore with a real-life location
Retailers focused on at-home AR shopping experiences during the pandemic, which created an awesome environment for augmented reality. However, as we’re seeing more real-life events pop up across the globe, companies appreciate more digitally immersed customers and bid to merge online and physical experiences.
An excellent example comes from Britain’s mobile network operator and internet service provider, EE. Just recently, the company launched what they call the first AR superstore. Located at the Wembley stadium, it enabled people to purchase fandom outfits and take AR photos with their football favourite’s digital avatar.
Augmented reality retail window display as a tourist destination
Around Christmas, we started to emerge from the lockdowns more confidently and were ready to take longer strolls to busier streets. Yet, we still preferred the outdoors. That’s why we loved it when one of the UK’s favourite department stores, Harrods, turned its Christmas window display into a large-format AR marker.
Harrods Christmas windows are an expected spectacle that people from afar (and nearby) intentionally come to view every year. The retailer has built a reputation for its ability to create displays that spread Christmas cheer like no other shopping experience. And it indeed worked again, as people made their way to experience the store’s windows come to life through augmented reality animations. News media were also all over the story.
Metaverse, retail and augmented reality: a perfect collision
We also love how tech-forward fashion giant Zara is. It was 2018 when the brand launched its first in-store augmented reality experiences. Zara temporarily switched its physical mannequins for AR runway models and embraced bare window displays that prompted AR app downloads. This for sure drove footfall into the store and created excellent customer engagement.
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While some retailers are now ready to launch a similar experience, it is so 2018 for Zara! The company is way ahead in the game today.
In 2022, Zara launched its brand new collection Lime Glam. The garments and accessories can be purchased in its brick-and-mortar and online stores. Their digital counterparts can be bought and worn by Metaverse avatars inside the Zepeto’s universe (yes, it is the same trendy universe where you’ll find the Gucci Villa).
And we think it is the right move for fashion brands. With avatar platforms like Ready Player Me, securing multi-million funding, it is clear that the way we look in the Metaverse is becoming just as important as the way we present ourselves in the real world. Nike also recently bought a virtual shoe company that makes NFTs and sneakers for the Metaverse avatars.
So, where does augmented reality come into play? As we see in the above Tweet, interaction with Metaverse objects in real-life is where AR matters. It bridges the gap between Metaverse and our real-world. It is not even a matter of time. Today, people are capturing videos standing alongside or dancing with their avatars. It is their digital representation and a token they can interactively showcase to others and interact with in the real world.
Meanwhile, platforms like Overly are here to enable people to place digital assets (which may also be avatars) into real-world environments. Similarly, Geenee AR teamed up with Ready Player Me allowing people to place Avatars into their settings and wear them.
Believe it! As people start sharing their avatar real-life and Metaverse interactions online, sceptical retailers will wish that digital citizens wear their clothing and accessories.
Augmented reality clothing try-ons are getting here
Before we get swooped away with dressing our avatars, let’s remember that AR is not just a tool for posing with avatars. Research has already proved that AR increases people’s confidence in purchasing online. So first of all, retailers should embrace AR try-ons on real people to boost sales.
This works great in the beauty sector, but one clothing brand that continues to set an example of interacting with the new-gen digital shoppers is Nike. Even before developing NFT shoe collections, Nike utilized Snapchat lenses to power AR shopping experiences with virtual try-ons of Nike Air Force 1s. If you liked the shoe, you could click “shop now” to immediately purchase the pair you’ve designed.
Nike teamed up with the UK’s JD Sports to launch the UK’s first augmented reality (AR) shoe try-on through short-form video giant TikTok. No wonder Nike is the preferred brand of 51% Gen Zs regarding athletic performance apparel. Nike continues to meet their audience wherever they are.
Gamification is the perfect tool for boosting retail sales
One industry that has let augmented reality’s potential take it by storm is the beauty sector, and they’re not stopping with the obvious try-ons. In our experiential marketing blog, we reported that Benefit’s gamification AR campaign delivered a conversation rate above 50%.
The company developed a custom-built mobile AR platform that lets prospects use their phone camera to view and collect Benefit’s digital tokens in their physical space. Once collected, customers were offered product discounts and guided to Benefit’s online store to purchase.
The average AR gamification dwell time was 2 minutes and 22 seconds. It is not a metric a traditional ad could dream of, but it goes hand in hand with research showing that people spend more time with AR advertising materials than conventional ads.
Non-apparel products are first in line for better AR sales experiences
However, AR and Metaverse are not just for clothing brands. In fact, the first retailers to benefit from AR are those selling technical and household items. Simply because the technology is currently weighing in their favour.
Body tracking is still in its infancy when it comes to AR, and we are still a while off from being able to try on an outfit in augmented reality and be sure that it will look identical in real life. Meanwhile, positioning static or animated 3D objects in our environment provides a much more reliable experience.
Quite a while back, IKEA launched its first AR app that is now widely available and lets you try AR furniture in your environment. This is perfect for those people who want to ensure a new household item will fit into their home in terms of size, colour, etc.
However, now IKEA is taking it up a notch. Recently, the home furnishings retailer launched the Studio app. Still in BETA mode, the new AR app enables users to capture entire 3D room plans and redesign them from top to bottom. Although the word out there is that IKEA is focused on launching this functionality for AR glasses, there are many opportunities already in the market as most of your customers own a smartphone.
Packaging is the best platform for beginner AR experiences
Last but not least is the packaging. There have been numerous examples of excellent packaging use over the previous few years. In essence, packaging was often the only platform that brands could utilize to check-in with their customers during the lockdowns. We saw businesses create AR gamification, recipes and competitions to keep people entertained.
AR packaging and its value for retailers will make a whole another blog, but below, you’ll find a perfect summary from Wikitude with some pointers for inspiration.
I hope this blog lent you some inspiration. You can create your retail use case using our DIY augmented reality creator. Leave a comment below or get in touch via chat if you have any questions on the topic.