Globally, we see companies often introducing new technologies to help shape the landscape of their Retail and Consumer businesses. Such businesses are constantly working on adopting new age solutions and technologies that would enhance their customers’ experiences. These preferred solutions and technologies work on:
- Increasing shopping comfort
- Improving access to the marketplace
- Decreasing customer effort
- Provisioning an omni-channel experience
- Optimizing the presence of physical brick and mortar stores
- Closing the experience gap between the physical and virtual presence
- Getting the best ROI on the investments made to achieve all of the above
While most futuristic technologies and ideas are interesting and have their utility, many of them are still far from being practical. For example, let us look at a much-needed technology - ‘Drone Delivery’ - for this to succeed at a commercial level, huge investments from companies, customers and governments alike will be essential. It would also require a lot of support in the form of policy changes, new laws and technology adoption. This makes technologies like Drone Delivery much harder to implement quickly, on a larger scale.
On the other hand, we also have technologies that are easy to adopt and implement within existing frameworks, platforms and protocols. ‘Virtual Reality’ and ‘Augmented Reality’ are the best examples of such technologies.
The game changers: VR & AR
Virtual Reality (VR) is all about creating an artificial digital environment, capable of providing a visual / sensory experience to the end consumer by replacing a particular space or situation (in our case, it would be the market place). VR helps improve customer experience by providing shopping comfort, more access, less effort, enhancing customer experience (CX) and optimizing physical presence. By closing in on the gap between physical and virtual presence, it creates a powerful immersive experience for the end user.
Augmented Reality (draping digital content on the real-world) helps in enhancing CX in multiple other ways. A customer can enhance her/his experience in a store by getting more targeted and useful information on their smartphone cameras during the process of shopping. In today’s context, nearly 20% of the consumer marketplace prefer making purchases on the internet (eCommerce and mCommerce). While online shopping delivers convenience and saves time and money, the biggest problem faced by a customer still is – what if the purchased item, on arrival, is not what was expected. An effective solution to this problem is Augmented Reality (AR) as it allows customers to virtually view and even try on products sold online.
In other words, if you see the real world supplemented with digital objects, that’s AR. Imagine you want to buy new curtains for your living room. Augmented reality technology will help you check how different curtains will look in your room and pick the one that fits best.
AR can also take complaint management and technical support to the next level by providing both, the L2 support agent and the customer, an enhanced experience. The beauty of this technology lies in the fact that the agent and customer can visually see, show and operate on the ‘problem’ in real time.
The fact that people can use their smartphones or tablets to run AR applications makes AR the most accessible reality technology with wide applications.
- Marketing – enhancing brand engagement, visibility and equity
- Gamification – using game-like strategies to increase brand awareness through loyalty, scores (points, currency, discounts, offers)
- Real World Experience – taking the real world experience to the consumer’s doorstep
- Personalization – personalizing the shopping experience instead of a cookie cutter standard experience for everyone
- Try and Buy – see how the furniture looks in your living room, how the cosmetics looks on your face or how the dress looks on you - all in the comfort of your home
The return on investments made from implementing AR-VR solutions are derived from the offset of costs achieved from not opening physical stores (being high on capital expenditure and overheads).
AR-VR enabled marketplace
To conclude, it is absolutely necessary for Retailers and CPG companies alike to adopt new age technologies that act as natural business continuity plans to physical stores, helps enhance customer experience, and reduces effort to increase sales. An AR-VR enabled marketplace also helps companies make analytics, targeted marketing and customer lifecycle management more robust, thus leading to increased revenues, improved margins and enhanced loyalty.
There are plenty of ways your enterprise can benefit from adopting new technologies like AR and VR. To know more about how Wipro can support your AR-VR journey, schedule a discussion with our experts.