A look into what’s shaping the latest augmented reality trends in New Zealand, and how these are changing the way marketers reach their customers.
With the recent Covid-19 pandemic forcing us to change the way we think about shopping, the eCommerce industry is booming. Traditional retailers are also realising a need to think outside the box. One of the biggest players in this retail shake-up is augmented reality (AR).
A recent study published in the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, found that AR can improve online shopping. This after a survey revealed that online shoppers return 70 percent of the clothing they order, more than any other category of purchase.
According Professor Fatma Baytar, Director of the Body Scan Research Group, an AR tool allowing shoppers to see an image of themselves in the garment, however, made them more likely to want to buy it.
The report concluded that, while not as effective as physically trying clothing on, AR boosted participants’ attitudes toward the item of clothing, potentially improving the experience and efficiency of online shopping.
Retail Marketing in the Age of AR
AR is a blend of digital information and live video or the user’s environment in real time. In other words, AR has the ability to video or photograph a live situation and insert computer-generated information into it, creating an experience that mixes digital, mobile and reality.
“I think augmented reality is going to be a big thing going forward,” says Stephen McCarthy, Founder of Christchurch-based agency, McCarthy. “It’s another great way to add that little bit extra,” he adds.
With the potential of digital marketing barely scratched, and with growing virtual and augmented reality capabilities, there’s still a lot of room to push the boundaries of what’s been done online, especially when it comes to sectors such as retail.
While McCarthy believes that AR will be a hot trend to watch going forward, he says that take-up has been slow because the process of accessing is not as seamless as customers would like.
“I think there’s still a little bit of a barrier there. You’ve still got to download something, you’ve still got to open an app, but there is potential. We’re at the same stage with augmented reality that we were at when 3-D movies came out. Is the tech quite there yet? Is it just a little bit of a step too far? Is it simple enough? That’s why we’re always trying to marry up the tangible work with the digital stuff, because I just don’t think digital is ever going to completely take over.”
Rupert Deans, Founder of Plattar, a company that brings the end-to-end process into one place – making it easy to manage 3-D and AR projects across teams at global scale – says that his team are working to make access to this type of technology less of a barrier. “Our AR solutions allow businesses to put products in their customers hands directly from their website. There’s no additional app necessary, which benefits businesses from a cost point of view, and also helps customers for convenience,” he says.
This ultimately makes it easier for customers to experience products in augmented realities, especially when physical realities are becoming more constrained.
“In the retail industry, we’re seeing a continuous shift towards online retail, or eCommerce, but that’s not without its problems. Unlike a brick & mortar store, you can’t get a full visual experience when shopping online. VR and AR aims to address some of these problems.
“Firstly, the size of products is difficult to determine. Have you ever bought a new desk, for example, only to get it home and find it doesn’t fit your intended space? With AR, you can use an AR-capable device like a smartphone to view that desk in 3-D, right in your office. Images are life-size, so you know exactly what fits and what doesn’t.
“Also, we’re very visual creatures when it comes to the products we buy. We want our clothes to look great on us, we want couch cushions to match our décor. When shopping online, it’s difficult to know if we’re getting the right colours and styles. Again, with AR, you can put products into your own environment, offering the best ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience in online retail,” Deans explains.
Augmented Reality Trends
With uptake in New Zealand from big brands including Spark and Torpedo7, both McCarthy and Deans agree that 2021 is going to see even more uptake.
Deans says that marketers should be on the lookout for these augmented reality trends:
- Retail revival: Perhaps the biggest and most widely used AR trend is seen in the retail environment. Retailers can make their products viewable using AR, meaning a customer can see how their new couch or window furnishings look in their own home. People can check the aesthetics and size of a product before buying, which goes a long way to instilling confidence.
- Indoor navigation: Another trend we can expect to see more of is AR being used for indoor navigation. People are already heavily reliant on smartphones for GPs and map services, but how about finding their way around large indoor spaces? AR technology is capable of showing people the way around large shopping malls, or for example directing travellers around an airport based on their flight number.
- Car comforts: While it may sound futuristic, AR in the automotive field is also on the rise. Manufacturers are now exploring technology that provides live directions via an AR overlay on their windshield. This would remove the need to look down at a smaller GPS screen.
For more on how you can leverage the power of AR, get a copy of the September/October 2020 Issue of NZ Marketing magazine, here.