Coinciding with his business’ appearance at Retail Week’s Stores Week, Scandit’s Christian Floerkemeier explains why now is the perfect time to invest in AR to align offline and online operations and improve the in-store experience for both customers and colleagues.
Predictions are difficult to make, especially now. But it’s safe to say physical retail is on the verge of a transformation – whether it likes it or not.
2020’s shift to ecommerce has merged consumer perceptions of online and high street shopping. As a result, in the same way that retail brands made a huge shift to omnichannel in 2020, so bricks-and-mortar stores are set to become more digital.
And a key way to do this is with augmented reality (AR), merging the physical and digital worlds together into a single streamlined experience.
The trend towards personalised, immersive customer experiences spurred examples of beauty and fashion brands such as L’Oréal and Pandora turning to AR as a novel way to help their customers’ ‘try on’ cosmetics, jewellery or apparel.
Here’s a brief rundown on a few specific use cases where AR could be a real game-changer for retailers over the coming year to improve the in-store customer and employee experience.
Greater visibility and information
Pre-pandemic, AR was proving a success: 50% of consumers were more likely to shop at retailers that offered virtual reality (VR) or AR, 2018 research from BRP Consulting found.
“Customers now have new standards and they will want to retain some of the benefits of the ecommerce experience when back in store”
AR overlays offer shoppers the chance to get critical information about products right there in the store, such as product reviews, ingredients and more.
Customers now have new standards and they will want to retain some of the benefits of the ecommerce experience when back in store.
AR’s real potential will be unlocked through the smartphones we are all using, empowering shoppers to make more informed purchasing decisions, quickly and without hassle.
Coupons and discounts
Sales discounts and offers are a crucial in-store marketing tool, but correctly implementing them can be a challenge, both at a local and chain level.
AR overlays can provide another way for customers to see an offer, allowing them to scan items and access detailed information on product pricing, promotions and more.
Forward-thinking retailers are able to personalise offers to the individual customer to create an even more tailored experience.
As this can be done centrally, offers and coupons are quick to update, meaning stores are able to react more quickly to what is happening in the aisle.
How AR can help employees
By providing their workforce with smartphone devices equipped with computer vision software, integrated into retail operations mobile apps, retailers can enable their employees to gain real-time access to essential product information and inventory data through AR overlays.
Frontline staff can use smart devices with AR to efficiently correct price errors and rearrange incorrectly placed products. Store staff can quickly compare product data with actual price labels.
“With a barcode-scanning mobile app, employees can quickly and easily locate items based on predefined criteria”
These digital retail solutions will overlay the accurate pricing information on the screen with an AR display, ensuring accuracy.
With a barcode-scanning mobile app, employees can quickly and easily locate items based on predefined criteria.
This functionality is invaluable for click-and-collect services where an employee scans the barcode from a customer’s receipt and then locates the right order via a ‘search and find’ in the stock room.
All these examples allow the store to be more aligned with the ecommerce operation and provide a better in-store customer experience. Stores need to be able to cater to customers who have been shopping online for the best part of the past 18 months.
Retailers should consider ways to replicate the ease and convenience of online shopping in store – the smartphone with AR can help.
Christian Floerkemeier is co-founder and chief technology officer at Scandit
Scandit has partnered on Stores Week, running from May 17 to May 21, to help retailers hone their store strategies and celebrate the place shops still have in retail’s future.