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When Augmented Reality Meets the Retail World

By: Katie Gardner on July 15, 2016

Last Thursday, Nintendo took the smartphone world by storm with the release of Pokémon Go. For those who don’t know what the hype is all about, Pokémon Go is an app-based game that uses augmented reality incorporated into every day life. For example, here’s Pikachu hanging out on the streets of Los Angeles.

pikachu.png

With the emergence of any new technology comes an adoption curve of users and then brands to see how they can leverage technology as a way of attracting, retaining, and engaging customers and prospects.

For retailers, augmented reality presents a unique opportunity to combine the digital and the real world to create a seamless environment. Although we have seen some ‘failures’ with augmented reality (i.e., Google Glass), there are many brands that have been successful with integrating AR into their brand or retail experience.

Converse

 Despite being over 100 years old, this has not stopped Converse from innovating and leveraging the latest technology to build a better brand experience.

Converse uses AR technology with their Converse Sampler app, which allows customers to select any shoe from the Converse catalog and then simply point the phone towards you foot to see how the (virtual) shoe will look wearing it. The app also supports in-app purchases so the customer can have the full retail experience without having to go online or in-store to complete the transaction.

Lowe’s

The home improvement chain is looking to make the arduous task of remodeling a kitchen or bathroom less stressful by incorporating AR technology. In 19 stores around the US, Lowe’s has installed a space called Holoroom that allows shoppers to see a 3-D mock up of their renovation plans. Holoroom is a stimulated space that can be personalized with individual room size, furnishings, colors, etc. Shoppers can give Lowe’s the dimensions of the room and fill the space with Lowe’s products. The design is also viewable at home through YouTube 360 with a Google Cardboard viewer, which Lowe's gives out free through on-site vending machines.

The North Face

The North Face is another early adopter in bringing augmented reality to its stores. The outdoor recreation brand is attempting to bring wilderness to the store and has rolled out two virtual reality videos in the past year, and has VR headsets in three of its stores. One of the videos features a rock climbing in Yosemite and the Moab Desert in Utah, and for the second video, the company partnered with Outside magazine to issue Google Cardboard to subscribers so they could see shots of Nepal on their smartphones.

These immersive tactics keep in line with the companies mission and provide a unique way to introduce and encourage people to get outside.

In summary, as evidenced by the rapid adoption of Pokémon Go, augmented reality technology is becoming more and more mainstream and consumers are showing a willingness to adopt it. As such, retailers should look to embrace this technology as way of enhancing customer experience and reinforce the brand promise as lead by example from Converse, Lowe’s, and the North Face.

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