Customer demands are constantly evolving and changing, and to remain competitive, retailers need to adapt to meet those demands. It is essential for any store today to meet their customers where they are, and that often means having a website and setting up an online store.
Amazon is a major competitor to all retailers, big and small, as consumers venture into shopping online. However, the good news is that despite the rise in online shopping, Canadians still enjoy going to brick-and-mortar stores. According to the most recent Statistics Canada report in July 2019, online sales only represented 3.2%1 of total retail trade. Even so, the convenience and experienced offered by e-commerce is impacting customers’ expectations as they now look for more personalized in-store experiences.
A recent segment of Global American Express SME Pulse Survey 2019, "Innovative Strategies to Drive Growth for Canadian SMEs," highlights Canadian small business owners' willingness to adapt to and harness change. More SMEs now recognize technology as a value investment that increases efficiency and business growth. Technology can help you to offer your customers a customized experience they won't forget.
Give a boost to your business with augmented reality
Innovation is essential when it comes to differentiating your business from other retailers. New technology advances offer you the opportunity to do so. For example, in-store technology like augmented reality (AR) can play a role in transforming your customers' shopping experience and increasing foot traffic.
AR was once only a science-fiction dream, but it is now part of our lives thanks to innovations like Google Glass and 360-degree video. AR involves an interactive experience where existing technology, like mobile devices, are used to augment elements in our real-world environment.
According to the American Express® sixth annual Canadian Retail Insights Report, 14% of retailers are looking to implement artificial intelligence or augmented reality to provide a better in-store experience.
Here are a few ways augmented reality can give a boost to your business.
Work on your wow-factor
You can use AR in your ads to make them more attractive and wow-worthy. Instead of a static ad, the technology allows you to integrate moving images or sound.
AR can give your customers a more immersive experience. For instance, people shopping for a sofa could see what it would look like in their home in 3D with just an app and their smartphone's camera. This kind of initiative improves your customers' experience and thus, their satisfaction.
The goal is to make potential customers fall in love with your products before they even walk into your store. Indeed, a jewelry or clothing store could use augmented reality to allow its customers to "try on" its products from anywhere. A makeup store could use this technology to allow users to see how they might look like with makeup on them without having to apply any makeup on their face.
Help your customers "see" more
Virtual dressing rooms let customers view clothes on themselves without actually having to try them on by using a body scan. Some stores offer customers the ability to see their outfits in a 360-degree view with a "memory mirror."
Another innovation allows customers to view models wearing selected outfits on shop windows by just holding up their smartphones to sensors. It's even possible to create an "invisible store" that shoppers can view by simply downloading an app on their phone and then holding it in the air.
AR glasses are expected to gain popularity in Canada, and their impact on retailers could be huge if they are widely adopted. These glasses have a holographic display only the user can see.
Augment—and enhance—the customer experience
Give your customers an experience they won't get anywhere else, and they will remember—and hopefully become loyal customers. AR will help you to create a more immersive and engaging experience, so you should leverage it. But before investing in it, be sure the in-store technology you want to implement is useful and has value for your customers. Augmented reality should create the "wow" effect you want.
1 Adapted from Statistics Canada, Retail Trade, July 2019. This does not constitute an endorsement by Statistics Canada of this product. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/190920/dq190920a-eng.htm
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.