How does augmented reality work?
Without getting bogged down in too many technical details, let’s just say that augmented reality can be defined as the superimposition of the virtual on the real. For it to work, it requires a smartphone, a tablet or a special pair of glasses. You can find it as much on the box of your favourite cereal to bring the mascot alive, as you can in the helmets of military units to help fighters obtain information in real-time about their environment. It shouldn’t be confused with virtual reality, which plunges the users into an entirely virtual world for entertainment, for training or to take a look at their future kitchen or the planet Mars.
Who is using augmented reality today?
If at first, augmented reality was seen as a gadget or new form of entertainment, it has now found its place, particularly in retail, where it can enhance the customer experience. The best example is undoubtedly L’OREAL. The cosmetics company realised early on the marketing potential of developing apps that allow customers to try different shades of lipstick, foundation and, more recently, hair colours using their smartphone camera. Better still, the French brand, which saw sales increase by 8% in 2019 estimates that this growth is in a large part due to online sales and, therefore, to augmented reality which allows customers to try before they buy. But these interactions can go even further.
How does augmented reality create proximity?
It may seem paradoxical, but augmented reality, far from being a second choice in customer relations, is succeeding in reconciling the best of both worlds. It’s easy for today’s consumers to ‘invite’ a brand or a professional into their home without it being too invasive. Quite the opposite, because with the help of augmented reality, the professional has the perfect conditions to discuss, explain and demonstrate products. “Even better than if you were there!” That’s the catchphrase of STREEM, one of the main players in the market. This American company develops apps and tools for all kinds of business. From remote diagnostics and repairs for manufacturers and installers of electronic equipment, to claims reports for insurance companies, and including inventories for rental properties. Augmented reality means that distance is no barrier and valuable time is saved…and thus making considerable savings.
From augmented reality to increased sales
Beyond troubleshooting and inspections, the technology, which is constantly improving its functionality, has now succeeded in merging demand (from the home) with supply (from the retailer). We can show the bathroom that we want to do up, check out the tiles available in the shop, see how they would look, and find out the cost using a measuring tool, colour detector and shape recognition. The technology is ready and consumers are better equipped and more experienced with these new tools. Retailers and sales outlets will soon be able to develop their ranges and enter the world of ‘augmented commerce’.