Augmented Reality – Bridging the gap between Physical & Digital Business

Augmented Reality (AR) – the term might sound like IT geek speak – can take your business to the next level. We all know that the major hindrance to e-commerce is that customers have a mistrust that what they buy online may not turn out to be what they wanted when they get it physically. Augmented reality removes that drawback and gives your business an edge online. The concept is catching on at pace with many companies.
What? How?
In simple terms AR bridges the gap between digital and physical worlds. It takes content in form of text, audio, video, as well as 3 models and incorporates them in the customer’s perceived physical environment. It helps the customers better understand the products in their physical world as they buy them from an augmented digital environment.
Here’s a few ways in which AR can boost your e-commerce business:
Enter the Physical Experience
AR can help your customers place 3-D models of your products in their digital environment. This lets them have a better understanding of what they’re buying and how it will look when it inhabits their reality. For example, people wishing to buy a couch can actually see how it will look placed in their living room. It helps in customers getting attached to your products which will make them more likely to buy.
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IKEA Augmented Reality Application let’s customers see their products in their physical environment.

Advertising and Sales all in one
Advertising can be made much more engaging with the help of AR. It facilitates a new form of customer interaction buy enabling customers to buy products more directly through advertisements. Customers can directly buy products by clicking AR created images of your products from your ads.
Have Shopping Lists and Compare Products
We’re all very forgetful. That’s why we need reminders not to mix stuff up. AR let’s you create real time shopping lists and compare products and prices from your range. Virtual shopping lists can be followed easier if they have images of the products instead of writing their name. Customers can scan barcodes and get detailed product and pricing information to help them make decisions. This simple but engaging feature helps your products more in staying in the customers’ eyes and being in their shopping lists and increases the likelihood of them being sold.
Take your Store to your Customer
The e-commerce business is a means to take your store to the customers rather than them physically coming to your shop. AR helps your business to replicate the in-store browsing and trying on experience on a digital level. Customers can try and buy your products, virtually, directly from where they are through the AR experience.
Tesco’s advancements in bringing the super market experience to places where the customers frequently go through like subway stations is a great example of how you can take your store to where your customers are. Together with that the innovations shown by Tesco at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld is also a great leap in the AR customer experience. Tesco’s “Magic Mirror” is a virtual mirror which let’s user see how they look in the clothes they’re looking to buy. They can choose colors and sizes just by standing in from of the mirror. Add to that, they can also order directly from the “Magic Mirror” if the item is not available on the racks and pick it up the next day.
Create Demand -> Boost Sales
AR helps you to put your products out there to the customers. Together with the integration of sales and marketing you can place your products at specific places and let the customers experience them in an AR environment. As customers experience your products through AR, they will more likely make their decisions to buy them.
Know your Customers through their Data
Big Data is a huge today. Analyzing your customers’ habits, purchase patterns and can help develop future products and services as well as placing customer as well as location specifics offers. Data collected through AR apps can give your business an added advantage. AR apps can also incorporate features that use this data to make suggestions to customers.
Increase Profits -> Maximize ROI
Revenues generated through AR are expected to cross $3 billion by 2015, as mobile commerce revenues are likely to double during that time. 2015 is also expected to see mobile phone AR applications revenues amount to $2.2 billion.
ROI from AR can be in many ways such as resulting in direct sales, increased brand awareness and PR.
Augmented Reality can give your business the upper hand when it comes to e-commerce. Share your thoughts on how and in what ways you can use AR to benefit your business?

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