With technology remaining the driving force, 2024’s consumers require an extraordinary customer experience, which is seamless, consistent, and memorable. To create immersive digital shopping experiences, retailers are upping the ante with AR and VR.
“For retailers, digital is no longer enough. Shoppers are diving into highly curated in-store experiences and fully expecting the online connection. Retailers will need to unify the digital and in-store experiences to ensure in-store is as seamless as the online experience,” said Tara Kelly, CEO and founder of SPLICE Software.
While the future of the metaverse is unknown and some may deem it overrated, online experiences are becoming more and more immersive, and will ultimately become the key to success in the metaverse. Truthfully, success in the metaverse will therefore begin to influence physical retail with the use of augmented reality in-store. It becomes a full circle moment, and we’re beginning to see it today.
“To stay competitive, retailers must be constantly renewing and rethinking their customer experience, and in the next twelve months, we will see the digital increasingly merge with the physical, to create new content and ways of shopping to keep buyers engaged,” noted Sushant Warikoo, SVP and business unit head of retail for Cognizant. “The technology in physical stores will range from using AI and virtual and augmented reality to offer events, classes, and demonstrations, to continuing to equip employees with tablets and devices to provide more accurate assistance — i.e., on where an item is located or stock availability — and tailored recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases.”
To get ahead of the competition, retailers are exploring AR and VR solutions to create a realm where customers can shop in simulated environments, whether that be placing furniture in your space or trying on clothes. Retailers such as Hugo Boss, Walmart, and Amazon allow customers to virtually try-on clothing using digital representations of themselves. IKEA’s app was one of the first to leverage Apple’s augmented reality technology.
“Make no mistake, the metaverse is where brands will connect with their audiences. We’re already seeing this happen, with brands like Nike and Vans setting up their own virtual worlds. Vans, for instance, set up a virtual skatepark on the Roblox gaming platform. McDonald's is, according to patents filed, preparing to create virtual restaurants where people can hang out and order food to be delivered to their (real-world) home. Clearly, the metaverse offers a lot of potential for brands to connect with their audience, increase brand engagement, sell products, and find new advertising opportunities. We will even see more brands create digital-only products that exist purely in the metaverse (think digital cars, homes, clothes, and designer furniture),” noted Bernard Marr, Forbes.
Sustainability & Re-commerce