AR and VR could transform online and mobile shopping experience

According to new research by Gartner, 100 million consumers are expected to shop in augmented reality (AR) online and in-store by 2020, with 5G mobile networks significantly helping to speed up adoption of AR and virtual reality (VR) in stores.

AR and VR have long been touted as the next big thing in consumer and shopping experience, but retailers and marketers have been slow to implement corresponding solutions.

“[C]onsumers are progressively defining the value provided by the experiences they receive from retailers. As a result of these pressures, retailers are turning to AR and VR to offer customers a unified retail experience inside and outside retail stores,” said Hanna Karki, principal research analyst at Gartner.

According to the survey of 97 respondents in the UK, US, Canada and China, 46% of retailers are planning to deploy AR or VR solutions by 2020.

“The impact of AR or VR in retail can be transformative,” added Karki. “Retailers can use AR as an extension of the brand experience to engage customers in immersive environments and drive revenue.”

One example of such an experience is IKEA’s Place app which lets customers move around IKEA furniture in their own homes. This allows them to fully visualise piece of furniture before committing to buy it. Alibaba, Tesco and Adidas are also among brands that have adopted some VR or AR experience.

But it’s not just the shopping experience that benefits from AR and VR, after-sales care and customer loyalty could also be addressed.

Furthermore, the report highlights that 5G mobile network technology is able to help speed up the adoption of AR and VR in-store. Indeed, VR and AR for 5G has resulted in high expectations among market players to become major revenue drivers.

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“Gartner expects that the implementation of 5G and AR/VR in stores will transform not only customer engagement but also the entire product management cycle of brands,” said Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner. “5G can optimize warehouse resources, enhance store traffic analytics and enable beacons that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones.”

Previous research by Signal noted that 80% of consumers would respond positively to brands offering more personalised experiences.

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