Imagine yourself standing in front of the mirror in a trial room of a mall and seeing yourself in different apparels with growing through the tiresome process of changing clothes and trying out each outfit physically. That is how augmented reality can transform a static experience to a dynamic one. Similarly,the immersive power of VR offers the customers an innovative 3D product experience.While these sound a little bit sci-fi, they are already being used by retailers to take their in-store and online experiences to the next level but these have not been implemented extensively. So it’s fair to say , these two are going to be future architects who will redesign the shopping experience altogether. AR and VR are in-evitable in e-commerce but these days,these are equally important in shaping the retail too. From a survey it was found 77.24% of buyers abandon their cars before completing a purchase. This indicates that retailers must do much more to convince customers to go ahead with their choice.

Before going to the transformation of the shopping experience, let’s know what AR &VR actually is? immersing yourself in a virtual, computer-generated universe where you can use all the five senses to interact exactly as you do in the real world. This is virtual reality. On the other hand a computer-generated universe combined with the real world and putting yourself in it and thus becomes augmented reality. The main difference between the two is that VR immerses users in a simulated world, usually through a headset and controller, while AR overlays virtual elements onto the real world, which are viewed through a smartphone or tablet.

AR SHOPPING TRANSFORMATION

Retailers are experimenting with immersive technology in some way, shape or form to satisfy the increasing consumer demand for novel and emotionally engaging experiences.For example, Zara used AR to create attention-grabbing window displays that came to life when shoppers pointed their smartphone loaded with the Zara app at the windows. They could also click through to shop the latest collection.Smart mirrors that show shoppers what an item of clothing looks like on them, without actually trying it on. Pepperfry is using AR to give customers abeautifical experience about furniture placement that could give a room a perfect look. An AR enabled app simply turns the mobile camera and detects the place in the living room where the sofa can be placed. The application places a 3D model of the sofa as an overlay on the live image of the living room. Now it is very easy for your buyer to visualize what the sofa would look like in his living room. You can rotate the camera and see where new furniture fits best. AR can be used similarly in the domain of jewelry and lifestyle, among others.

VR SHOPPING TRANSFORMATION

The best utility of VR is retailers can build virtual showrooms or virtual stores to .add a new level of intrigue to the online shopping experience.VR experiences like Splash at Topshop which allow visitors put on a pair of VR goggles and slide down a physical slide in-store, while being immersed in a 360-degree VR experience.Australian bathroom product brand Caroma included a VR experience in its new Sydney flagship, which lets customers map out their space and see what products look like in certain configurations. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s ‘virtual mall’, where shoppers can browse and buy in real-time. It’s all virtual—users insert their smartphone into a VR headset and start shopping, with a 360-degree view of the store. IKEA has also gone the virtual route, launching the IKEA Virtual Store to offer the full flat-pack experience to shoppers from the comfort of their homes (and without the crowds).

Advantages associated with implementation of such technologies in various industries are numerous:

1. Interactive experiences which make shopping as fun as playing a game or watching a movie, are a great way to attract customers, particularly younger demographics. In fact, 80 percent of Generation Z shoppers say they are more likely to visit physical stores that offer entertainment.

2. Virtual showrooms reuse the same physical space—in a virtual setting—as many times as one wants. Creating a virtual store where shoppers can browse and buy significantly reduces the time and money needed to update your store, and you can even build seasonal templates and switch between a summer display and an autumn setup at the touch of a button.

3. The power of ‘try before you buy’ give the shoppers today want personalised experiences

4. Help retailers save money when it comes to store design and merchandising

5. AR and VR experiences collect large amounts of data on user activity and behaviour. This allows retailers to better tailor the shopping experience to individual customers and convert them from browsing to buying. It can also be used to improve in-store navigation as well as zoning and stock management by looking at customer behaviour and crowd movement (the path people walk in a store).

The demand of AR/VR technologies is high in e-commerce as well as in retail platform but currently its implementation is very limited.According to a survey, 32% of consumers say are likely to shop at a store with AR experience but only 9% of retailers offer the technology while 29% of consumers are likely to shop at a store with VR experience but only 7% of retailers offer the technology. VR and AR technologies shows strong promise in shaping the experience of customers as these new devices allow shoppers to immerse themselves deeper into the commerce experience and they give customers a new attraction to visit both online and physical stores.Who knows, these futuristic technologies might give us same feeling as that of “Ironman” suit designed by :Jarvis” for “Tony Stark” one day.

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