Retailers need to advance their AR capabilities or risk falling behind in their ability to engage with customers: 100 million shoppers are expected to use AR online and in-store by 2020, according to Gartner. A global survey of retail executives found that 46% plan to deploy either AR or VR solutions to meet customer service experience requirements.
“The impact of AR or VR in retail can be transformative,” said Hanna Karki, Principal Research Analyst at Gartner in a statement. “Retailers can use AR as an extension of the brand experience to engage customers in immersive environments and drive revenue. For example, IKEA’s Place app enables customers to virtually ‘place’ IKEA products in their space. Additionally, AR can be used outside the store after a sale to increase customer satisfaction and improve loyalty.”
AR experiences already are providing concrete benefits for retailers that adopt the technology. Tenth Street Hats added a “Try it on in AR” option to its product pages, which resulted in a 33% jump in conversion rates and a 74% boost in engagement. The tool also encourages shoppers to post images of themselves wearing the 3D hat on social media in return for a discount code, driving brand awareness.
Sentiment Analysis Can Make AR Even More Personalized
Solution providers also are expanding their capabilities in AR. NexTech AR Solutions has launched sentiment analysis capabilities within its Try-It-On AR experience for online retail. The feature uses computer vision technology to analyze shoppers’ sentiment as they “try on” different products, by reading facial expressions and making recommendations based on positive or negative reactions.
The current prototype features a “smiling” prompt,, meaning that when a shoppers smiles while trying out an item, the technology delivers a prompt urging them to add that product to their cart. Should a customer express dissatisfaction, the tool can recommend something else, to simulate the experience of interacting with an in-store associate.
Retailers can personalize the online shopping experience by customizing both the sentiment thresholds and the on-screen prompts to better target customers and influence shopping behavior. The solution also supports retargeting at a later time, through email blasts and coupon codes, based on the items that garnered the most positive responses.
Other sentiment analytics solutions are being used to shape decisions around product assortments and merchandising. Rue21 has incorporated consumer-driven predictive analytics using data drawn from social media platforms into its design, buying, planning and pricing decisions through a partnership with First Insight. As a result, the product testing period was reduced from six to nine months to two days, and the retailer saw margin increases as high as 6% on the products processed through the platform.