Augmented Reality (AR), which must not be misunderstood with Virtual Reality (VR), anchors virtual elements in the real world. It employs 3D technology, uses computer-generated images, and creates objects not palpable in the user’s environment. This technology is slowly but surely revolutionizing the world of commerce and offers new perspectives in terms of shopping experiences.
Augmented Reality: a real potential
The digital world has not stopped delighting and surprising its users, and the forecasts confirm this trend. Digitalization is more than ever at the heart of the purchasing process. In recent years, companies have had the opportunity to broaden their scope by creating their website. They also have powerful digital tools at their disposal, such as augmented reality, to enhance this digitalization process.
To exemplify, the AR market is expected to be worth around USD$ 88.6 billion in 2026 . It is true that this could change the daily lives of customers, as it would offer the opportunity to try anything, at any time, even remotely. This functionality will be made even easier with the arrival of 5G, which could generate a significant amount of data. It is therefore a forecasted technological advance, which should soon become widespread.
Nevertheless, before AR became a standard, many stores in the luxury goods industry were charmed by this brand-new kind of 3D technology. It allows, for example, to visualize a product in action, without using it or wearing it.
Companies wish to make the buying process seamless, focusing on the customer experience, which becomes unique. Each brand has the opportunity to reinforce its image and identity by focusing on AR. If large Chinese companies have already understood this, the practice should become more widespread in the West during the coming years.
A few examples of AR usage in the luxury retail landscape
Real-environment 3D products visualization, by Burberry
When a world-renowned search engine and a luxury brand team up in 2020 to create an augmented reality feature, the result is a preview tool that offers an extraordinary experience.
Available on smartphones, this 3D technology is mainly used by British and American consumers. They can, from the first page of Google results, visualize certain brand products in three dimensions.
Indeed, Burberry referenced two of its products, in particular bags, to let Internet users try them on in real-time. One or two clicks are enough for one of the bags in question to appear next to an outfit of their choice. The risk of making a mistake is reduced and the consumer is reassured in their decision to buy or not the product thanks to this virtual trial.
This new technology could thus eradicate styling mistakes! Google’s search technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated, always intending to fully integrate the consumer into the purchasing process.
Watches: virtual try-on by Browns and Farfetch
Here is another example of a virtual fitting feature implemented by a major luxury store: the British brand Browns Fashion. It had already allowed to virtually test sneakers in 2020. After the craze linked to the appearance of this tool, this large group did it again a few months later, adapting its “virtual-try-on” application to watches.
These digital innovations emerged in part from the acquisition of Browns by the Farfetch fashion group. AR is reinventing the way we interact with clothing and is at the heart of the development of Browns’ product line.
Luxury watches are on the rise, and it is becoming more and more interesting to be able to ensure that such an accessory is perfectly suited to the wrist of the future buyer. From home, the latter can try on the models he wants, while benefiting from personalized advice. Once on the application, the consumer then uses his smartphone and places it over his wrist to visualize the 3D rendering of the product they desire.
The 3 advantages of augmented reality for the customer experience
Emotionally engage with consumers
Marketing studies demonstrated that emotions play an essential role in the decision-making process that leads to the decision to purchase or not a certain item. To illustrate, advertisements are developed in this way: to bring back memories or to appeal to one of our five senses. Therefore, the experience that AR offers is in line with the emotional triggers that advertisers are looking for.
By taking part in a virtual try-on on a product from home, the consumer can directly interact with the product of their choice. Moreover, the functionality guides them, like a seasoned sales consultant. AR confirms the idea that it is by arousing emotions that we gain the trust of users. They can directly perceive the benefits of the product and see themselves with it, admiring how good the product wearing it.
The experience also strengthens the relationship between the consumer and the brand and makes them more likely to stay loyal to the brand in the future.
Offer immersive experiences with 3D
Each company can now offer its customers immersive experiences that are specific to their universe. It is also an excellent way to attract new customers who are not yet familiar with their products.
We can now see that virtual fitting is conquering many fields, beyond the world of luxury. To illustrate, the cosmetics industry has adopted the codes of augmented reality and offers consumers the opportunity to virtuallytry on various beauty products using fitting software.
On the other hand, luxury stores are also trying to dust off their image and attract a clientele that would usually feel excluded. The young generation is the perfect target to take advantage of this innovative feature. In this context, one should not hesitate to play the card of the funny, gamified, and innovative experience, to spark their curiosity. Social media are excellent communication tools for these features.
Jacquemus is an example of a brand that has been communicating increasingly through AR campaigns on Social Media. First the Bambino bags as cars and buses, the virtual try-on of its famous bob and today, the lemons falling on a grey pebble beach
Boost sales with Augmented Reality
Online sales continue to increase every year and companies are more and more aware that becoming digital is their only way to survive. Nevertheless, in the retail world, competition is tough. It is sometimes difficult to stand out from the crowd. That’s why integrating AR into your digital marketing strategy can be a powerful way to create engagement.
By arousing emotions in consumers with immersive tools such as augmented reality, the company makes sure to strengthen its connection with them. E-commerce platforms such as Shopify also confirm the trend: online stores can expect to double their conversion rate by using AR. According to a study conducted by the e-commerce platform, 65% of shoppers are more likely to make an order after interacting with AR. 
This can be explained by consumers who are more likely to buy because they know what to expect when they “try the product”. The sales process is facilitated as the customer has all the information needed to make the right decision.
New technologies are increasingly shaping the image that the world of retail and e-commerce will have in the future. If you are now convinced by all the benefits that augmented reality can offer to your business, it’s time to adapt your future customer experience. Contact SmartPixels to develop and implement your interactive product experiences in augmented reality!