How Augmented Reality is changing the face of Retail

This week, Amazon truly championed the ‘try before you buy’ mantra. The retailer upped its user experience by adding an augmented reality element to its app, AR View. Thanks to Apple’s ARKit, Amazon app users can now place items in their home before committing to buy them; and it doesn’t stop there. The AR addition allows users to move, rotate and even overlay products in a live camera view for a real augmented look at how the item would be if they bought it.

To test out the feature, tap the camera icon in the search bar and select AR View then choose the product. Make sure your phone is pointing towards where you’d like to place the object and use one finger to move and two to rotate it.

Note: Amazon’s AR View is only available on iPhones 6S devices and higher running iOS 11.

Augmented Reality in Retail

Amazon’s AR View isn’t the first augmented reality tool to hit the retail market. IKEA released similar technology in September, IKEA Place, which was a huge success; (in part due to the fact couples were no longer confined to the walls of a Dutch furniture store to argue over home décor); but because it worked, it was novel and it was contemporary.

Likewise, and hot on their tails, American discount store Target launched its own AR tool, which didn’t receive a glowing reception. It seems that Amazon is following suit by providing a tool that’ll soon be commonplace for large (and small) retail companies.

Augmented reality is undeniably a great tool, (game or gadget, depending on how you use it). And for the prospect of business owners that are selling a physical product, especially those without a brick and mortar shop, it allows prospective customers the opportunity to try before they buy. For businesses that depend on the merit of a clients’ imagination to secure sales; kitchen designers, architects, landscapers, interior designers; AR offers a leg-up, these salesmen no-longer need to lean on imaginations of others but can actually visualise what they’re selling.

Augmented Reality Retail

Augmented Reality and the Psychology of Retail

But the use of AR in retail signals so much more than another tool to make money. Augmented reality offers a new perspective, a new way to shop.

We’re living in a digital age of Veruca Salt, want, want, want and now, now, now; where the average internet user waits no longer than 3 seconds for it to load before clicking off; where social media governs our social standing. How many fun things have you flaunted on Instagram this month? Only two? Ouch.

New household phrases like “do it for the [insta]gram” and dictionary-worthy words such as “selfie” have been born out of this new visual social media culture.  They have enough power to drive our desires, govern how we spend our free time and what we buy.

Before the smartphone era people decided when to buy, they had to set aside time to go shopping. Now, we’re ready, willing and capable to make purchases from our phones anywhere and at any time. So, now, the real struggle for businesses isn’t getting attention but keeping it.

GC - Augmented Reality Retail App

Augmented Reality versus Advertising

In walks augmented reality; the technology that’s not only futuristic but also, as we mentioned earlier, very much like a game. I mean, just look at the Pokémon Go phenomenon. It was the best thing that’s ever happened for childhood obesity.

What playing a game does for helping children to learn, augmented reality does for retail. Giving the shopping process a sense of allusion, one which you can control, makes it a far more mystical and therefore interesting endeavour.

Gone are the days of dragging my boyfriend furniture shopping on the weekend, where he’d purposefully choose ugly items in hopes to be made redundant and then ignoring me to catch Pokémon. Now, we don’t even have to leave the house before he’s picking out grotesque products, thanks Amazon.

For a while, until other retailers catch up at least, Amazon’s augmented reality tool will be drawing people to them rather than pushing themselves in front of people through traditional advertising avenues.

Augmented reality was a natural progression of technology and was in no way created for retail; the same way customer loyalty and attention spans have been decreasing for years. It’s a coincidence that the solution became capable at the same time that it was needed.


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