This week, a survey of British retailers undertaken by Fujitsu found that 40% of those surveyed that had invested in new technologies had identified a correlation between new technology adoption and business growth.

When it comes to new technology in retail marketing, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have been widely lauded and the use of both in the sector is increasing. So should they being included in retail marketing strategies now?

Trend forecasters certainly seem to agree that these two distinct but related technologies will be instrumental in delivering customer experience and also driving loyalty in 2018 and beyond – a view shared by the Technical Director of award-winning digital agency, Mashbo, Steve Todd.

Steve said: “AR in particular is bridging the gap between the online and physical world. Retailers need to be getting to grips with this technology and integrating into their marketing strategies now, not in five years’ time.

“The technology has the power to pull together all the data available on an individual customer – from online searches and basket abandonment, to frequency of in-store visits – and use it to deliver tailored, targeted and timely messages to them while in store.”

AR and VR in UK Retail

The most notable recent application of AR – the ability to bring digital objects to life in a camera view of the real world – is Pokémon Go. As well as enabling customers to interact with product digitally, for example Ikea’s AR app which enabled users to place furniture in their homes before purchase, Pokémon Go highlighted the opportunity for retail to adopt the technology to drive customers around retail destinations and also undertake actions to gather points that could be saved to access discounts, exclusive offers and prizes.

Similarly, VR offers immersive experiences that transport the customer into created worlds that can build emotional connections with brands and retailers, generating in turn, increased loyalty.

Minority Report

Referencing scenes from the Tom Cruise blockbuster, Minority Report, Steve highlights how shoppers in the not to distant future could walk around stores and be targeted by billboard ads or push notifications through mobile apps based on both their online and offline behaviour.

“The technology gives retailers the power to deliver a much more personalised shopping experience to their customers. Whether that’s sales driven, jogging customers’ memories about products they’ve viewed or upselling items based on choices made elsewhere, or loyalty driven, rewarding customers for frequent visits to a shop with a free coffee or maybe a discount.

“AR advertising of this nature gives retailer the opportunity to target even more people with content that is highly relevant and personalised and therefore much more likely to drive conversions.”

The technology could even be used to improve the experience of visiting traditional bricks and mortar stores, for example a shopping list could be uploaded into an app to allow the quickest and easiest route around the store can be planned and delivered to the shopper, removing a common pain point.

What’s Next for AR in Retail?

The AR and VR experts also believe that this is just the beginning, with greater adoption of the technology as the hardware required to deliver the experience shrinks and becomes more mainstream.

“While no one is walking around wearing cumbersome AR glasses and headsets right now the pace of development is rapid and the hardware is shrinking – Microsoft’s Hololens is a great example of that.

“Before long, data from our social profiles and other digital footprints, even our credit rating will bleed into our experiences of physical sites. Conversely, the technology could even bring the physical into the online, delivering an AR customer service assistant to manage issues usually dealt with over the phone, email or via chat bots.”

Kate Cox, Managing Director of The Retail Room, added: “Both technologies are still emerging in a retail context, but offer the opportunity for a more emotional connection with brands and a more personalised shopping experience.”

Want to discuss how to integrate new technologies into your marketing strategy? Why not Contact The Retail Room team today?

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