There are some brands whose name is synonymous with a category, who could never advertise, change their product, or actively connect with consumers, and they would still make money. Those brands are few and far between, elusive to even some of the biggest brands in the world, who while long time dominant players, still face competition and a need to remain relevant.
For the majority of brands, the ability to compete for recognition, reputation, and revenue has required expanding beyond creating products, even beyond creating quality products, to include building a brand based on experience and knowledge that enhances the customers’ product experience. There have been many creative examples of brands delivering value through their wide network of channels and digital offerings, but one of the most effective across brands and industries has turned out to be the use of augmented reality. Here are 5 brands that have put AR to the test and seen significant returns.
While IKEA has garnered plenty of attention for its IKEA Place experience, Wayfair has taken the next step in leveraging 3D and AR to help customers make the best purchase decision. Building their ownsolution in house, Wayfair has rolled out not only the ability for users to view furniture and decor in their own space using AR, but an added feature known as Room Planner which allows shoppers to view and manipulate possible room configurations with the products they are shopping for.
In addition to the functional value that Wayfair has added for their customers in helping them see what a given piece will look like in their home, Wayfair’s team had aimed to make the shopping experience fun by adding features that are only possible using AR. As described by the Wayfair team, “we create delight by breaking some rules of the real world by allowing the user to do or see things that are only available with AR...the experience defies physics to rise into view from the surface they are anchored to, such as chairs rising from beneath the floor, or chandeliers growing out of the ceiling.”
Eco friendly shoe brand Allbirds recognized the opportunity to leverage an increasing use of AR in the sneaker industry to create a new digital touchpoint for their customers with a dedicated shopping app. While the new app does not replace Allbirds’ existing Shopify site, it does offer shoppers more immersive experiences including an AR try on and the option to choose where their carbon offset from purchase is applied (tying back to the Allbirds mission).
In competing in such a crowded space, Allbirds recognizes the need to optimize the time and attention consumers are giving it. By creating a more immersive experience, Allbirds drives consumer value with early access to features that their target audience appreciates, including seeing the new colors in full detail and building excitement for purchase.
Competing in another crowded space with a large number of newcomers is sunglasses brand, Goodr. Similar to brands like Warby Parker who have built AR experiences around the knowledge that consumers struggle to visualize what a pair of glasses will look like on, Goodr has made a point of removing stress and adding fun to their digital experience.
Known for their loud and often crazy styles, many of Goodr’s selections can be viewed through both a 3D visualizer and an AR experience, complete with photo capture to allow shoppers to save and compare styles they are shopping. The features aren’t just for style and show either, Goodr saw a 32% increase in conversions with styles using the AR capability.
In the world of 50 shades of red lipstick, shoppers can jump for joy knowing that the shade they choose won’t clash with their skin tone when they use Sephora’s Virtual Artist. While using Virtual Artist requires a shopper to download Sephora’s app, the benefit to the consumer is a greater confidence in the colors they are choosing and a lesser risk of the need to return or wasted money due to an inability to return a specific product.
Unlike shopping in-store, buying makeup online generally requires knowing the exact shade needed and an eventual drawer of discarded products that did not live up to expectations. With Virtual Artist, shoppers are able to safely and conveniently color test products as needed, even combining a variety of products to achieve a desired look. Those products can then be purchased directly through the app.
The use of AR in retail is not limited to product try ons and room design. Nike leveraged augmented reality as part of its Innovation Hub experience in NYC to launch its All Conditions Gear. Using QR codes around the store, shoppers could explore products and animated wildlife via their mobile devices. The experience was further gamified with Adventure Checklist, which guided shoppers through checkpoints throughout the store, eventually leading a store associate to deliver a physical gift to shoppers who completed the checklist, as well as an AR hiker model that could be kept on the user’s phone.
This was not Nike’s first venture into AR, having previously utilized AR for virtual try ons and product reveals, but it is one of the most involved examples of brands creating an immersive in store experience with AR, that also just happened to showcase new products available for purchase. In light of the products being launched, it is fair to say that Nike drove significant value for the target audience of this collection by building an experience that engaged their interest from both a practical product and activity of interest perspective.
Augmented Reality is poised to make substantial impacts on retail and retail experiences in the near future, with 60% of consumers expecting to see 3D and AR leveraged by brands. Start building your optimized customer experience today, and reap the benefits of happier, more confident customers.
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