Shopping centres are adopting digital, zero-touch and immersive solutions to keep shoppers safe
Innovation significantly influences the marketing strategy of brands or stores. Even though when the Covid-19 pandemic has shut down shops for a long time, the comeback marked quite a hit. Shopping centres are emerging with high-end technologies that could make customer’s experience unimaginably comfortable while also following the pandemic protocols.
However, countries in the European region are going back to March 2020 with a second wave of Covid cases and full lockdown. Other than that, all other parts of the globe are on the unlocking stage. Schools, restaurants, pubs, theatres, parks, etc. are preparing to put safety norms in place to welcome back people. While all these places have no critical point while following social distancing and ‘do not touch’ methods, malls and shopping centres are a victim to the guidelines. The lingering thought of ‘how fitting rooms will reopen despite strict measures?’ has been a concern for both the customers and shop owners.
Shopping centres are rapidly adopting digital, zero-touch and immersive solutions to keep shoppers engaged and feel safe. Augmented Reality (AR) is the frontrunner in making the change.
Augmented Reality (AR) as an in-store shopping solution
Augmented Reality (AR) is the enhanced version of the real physical world that is achieved through the use of digital visual elements, sounds, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. It is a growing trend among companies involved in mobile computing and business applications in particular.
Augmented Reality (AR) has been featured as the best technology that complements the retail industry. It makes shopping fun again, allowing customers to have a safe in-store experience that entertains, engages, educates and converts lookers into buyers. Retailers have traditionally relied on print advertising campaigns or other media to promote products. Today, the efforts are merged and are put together into the comprehensive consumer experience via augmented reality.
Integrating the technology in marketing effort aims to build consumer relationship, boost sales and add value to the shopper experience. It allows retail businesses to provide their customers with in-store experiences, which can benefit both customers and retailers. Here is a list of benefits that strategic AR placement can provide to retailers,
• Increase in conversions
• Reduced returns
• Facilitate consumer curiosity about certain products
• Support customer purchase decisions
• Provide a higher level of service
• Build customer loyalty
In the current scenario, along with augmented reality, XR needs to be incorporated into the customer’s shopping experience. Even though when AR is the right tool to take customers out of online shopping to in-store purchase, XR also makes a major contribution in that accord.
Augmented Reality as a gateway to in-store shoppers
No one can conclude that the pandemic is totally gone unless we are in New Zealand or Taiwan. However, the prolonged feeling to go out to malls and shops as we wish is not dead despite being under lockdown for a long time. Somehow, the lonely time has induced to do more shopping once the lockdown measures are relaxed. Even though when customers take precautionary measures while doing in-person shopping, it is also the store owner’s responsibility to keep them safe. The technology is more likely to stay for a long time. It is anticipated that even after the pandemic, augmented reality will be a good choice to consumers who want to try things before they buy it. Here are some use cases of augmented reality in the store that will keep away constant touching of apparels.
AG mirror as trail room
Recent research has revealed that coronavirus stays in steel, glass and notes for almost 28 days. It increases the probability of getting infected. Henceforth, the first strategy that shop owners should use to stop an outbreak is by limiting the consumers from touching the products. In such situations, Augmented Reality (AR) can lead to contact-less, virtual and 3D product experience at stores before consumers make their final decision. AR or digital mirrors enables personalized shopping experience and can be a great marketing tool for brands. Customers can use this mirror as a digital trial room to put on and change apparels virtually. Shoppers can customize their looks by trying different shoes, apparels, and accessories using hand gestures that are detected by the mirror. It delivers an immersive and interactive shopping experience and can easily be sanitized.
AR Navigation for faster shopping
Social distancing is one of the major ways in which coronavirus can be kept away. However, it has its own side of flaws. Only a very less number of shoppers can access the store at a time leading to plummeting sales. To address the sales shortfall, AR-enabled devices deployed in-store and mall premises can help customers try on inventories without the help of sales assistants. This will lead to more people shopping at a time. Further, AR navigation takes customers through their shopping list. The AR application lets customers create a shopping list using the products in the catalogue and shows the fastest path to reach those products, along with more details about them. This will minimize the time taken for roaming around the store searching for a product.
AR-powered storefront display
Making the shoppers step inside the store is a tough job. Customers won’t go in unless there is something special. Brand engagement is also important while talking about lifetime shoppers. AR-based activations in malls can make customers take part in events, thus driving store visits and engagement. Additionally, AR-powered storefront displays can be used in many ways to help drive consumers into the store. The display can host games or be part of an exclusive event where shoppers get free coupons or discount cards that can be used for shopping.