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Shoppers are utilizing their smartphones as part of the retail experience like never before – regardless of whether they are shopping online or in-store. In fact, mobile devices make the majority of all retail related searches. The prevalence of mobile devices allows technologies once confined to science fiction to become part of our everyday shopping experience and augmented and virtual reality technology are now accessible to most consumers.
Augmented Reality and In-Store Experience
Augmented reality apps allow a user’s interaction with the real world to be supplemented by computer-generated input in real time. Savvy retailers are using technology to create immersive interactive shopping experiences.
Online furniture and homeware innovator Wayfair recently released an app that allowed customers to visualize products in their homes using their smartphone or tablet, while Ikea included a similar augmented reality feature as part of its digital catalog since 2013.
These technologies also influence store design. Beauty giant Sephora’s in-store smart mirrors allow customers to digitally ‘try on’ cosmetics before purchase. Smart-mirrors and interactive displays may be flexibly installed using slat-wall panels and grid wall systems to enhance the retail experience.
Capitalizing on Friendly Monsters and Footfall Traffic
Augmented reality provides an edge to brick and mortar stores in competition with e-commerce. With apps that place digital objects into the physical world, real world locations develop new significance. The viral
success of provides evidence of this. By sending players to catch digital monsters in the real environment, the game leads people into shops and malls in their hunt for Pokemon.
Many businesses attempt to capitalize on the increased footfall traffic by welcoming players. Stores coincidentally located at PokeStops – where players can stock up on in-game digital items –leverage the new attractiveness of their location with creative marketing and social media opportunities.
Businesses purchase “Lure Module” in-game to temporarily lure Pokemon – and the potential customers pursuing the monsters – into their stores. In July, McDonald’s restaurants in Japan became the world’s first official sponsored PokeStops. The game’s developer, Niantic also confirmed that it would expand its sponsored locations.
While the longevity of Pokemon Go as a cultural phenomenon is unclear, its explosive success suggests that location-based augmented reality games are here to stay. Brick and mortar retailers can capitalize on these new technologies with custom store fittings and digital signage solutions that can be adapted to reflect nearby in-game changes. As augmented reality breaks down the distinction between the digital and physical worlds, retailers should be aware of how the digital environment affects their customer’s retail experience.