Consumers now expect retailers to have some form of an augmented reality (AR) experience, according to a report by DigitalBridge.
Of the consumers surveyed, 20% said they expect retailers to have an AR tool now that iOS 11 has been released, while 49% say they expect retailers to launch AR features within the next six months.
Many consumers would like to see AR paired with artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize the shopping experience. Most consumers (64%) would like to see a virtual shopping assistant that uses AR and AI together. Notably, these customers would be more likely to use AR if it was partnered with an AI assistant that could suggest and visualize products based on their previous purchases or browsing history.
Many retailers in the home and furniture space have already launched into AR, and retailers in other segments should follow suit. Wayfair, Ikea, Anthropologie, and a slew of other furniture retailers have all debuted their own AR apps. These retailers have the most immediate use for AR, as consumers have been most interested in using the technology for their furniture purchases. But all retailers could benefit from providing virtual visualization of their products. For example, Topology Eyewear allows customers to virtually try on glasses through its AR app, enabling customers to build confidence in a purchase that typically requires a physical fitting. AR is a simple way for retailers to recreate the try-on experience that customers get in-store, and could convince digital shoppers to follow through with more purchases.
One of retailers’ top priorities is to figure out how to gain an edge over Amazon. To do this, many retailers are attempting to differentiate themselves by creating highly curated experiences that combine the personal feel of in-store shopping with the convenience of online portals.
These personalized online experiences are powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This is the technology that enables e-commerce websites to recommend products uniquely suited to shoppers, and enables people to search for products using conversational language, or just images, as though they were interacting with a person.
Using AI to personalize the customer journey could be a huge value-add to retailers. Retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It could also boost profitability rates 59% in the wholesale and retail industries by 2035, according to Accenture.
Stephanie Pandolph, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has written a detailed report on AI in e-commerce that:
- Provides an overview of the numerous applications of AI in retail, using case studies of how retailers are currently gaining an advantage using this technology. These applications include personalizing online interfaces, tailoring product recommendations, increasing the relevance of shoppers search results, and providing immediate and useful customer service.
- Examines the various challenges that retailers may face when looking to implementing AI, which typically stems from data storage systems being outdated and inflexible, as well as organizational barriers that prevent personalization strategies from being executed effectively.
- Gives two different strategies that retailers can use to successfully implement AI, and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.
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