Author: Andrew Makarov,
Augmented Reality Solution Architect at MobiDev
Augmented reality technology is capable of delivering some of the most exciting advances in marketing since the very introduction of the internet. Business applications for this tech aren’t just limited to the design or presentation space; indeed, some of the best uses for augmented reality can increase sales, maximize customer engagement, and improve customer satisfaction. By connecting users to the products they buy in a real, visual way, you can bridge the gap between your intended audience and the products or services you sell.
Build AR solutions to be practical and innovative at the same time
Augmented reality applications also extend beyond the retail sector. Everything from product or service information to guided tours can be augmented by technology. Picture a museum tour that would move at your own pace, be able to give extensive information on the exhibits, suggestions for the next related exhibit to visit, and act as a virtual guide through the venue.
Sports stadiums are already taking advantage of augmented assistance. An augmented reality app released before the Super Bowl allowed prospective ticket buyers to preview seating arrangements by aiming their iPhone’s camera at the wall, giving fans a clear picture of what their view would look like live and in-person.
Augmented assistance can also be used to enhance, or even replace, traditional written manuals. Automotive giants Hyundai and Mercedes both utilized this technology to drastically improve customer satisfaction. Those little booklets filled with hundreds of pages of information, often with vague pictures and confusing instructions, can be made much more useful with an augmented reality app. In Mercedes’ case, the addition of a virtual assistant allowed buyers to quickly and easily get answers to their questions about the vehicle’s operation (it’s worth mentioning that similar goals can be achieved with a virtual manual). Other luxury brands are following suit, giving drivers clear instructions in a virtual environment on everything from basic operation to everyday maintenance.
Guidance isn’t limited to instruction manuals; large indoor locations can utilize augmented reality tech to give helpful maps for navigating cavernous or confusing venues. Airports, for example, can use augmented assistance to help passengers along to their destination gates. Likewise, shopping malls, factories, hospitals, or any other expansive location can use augmented reality maps to remove the confusion in navigating their campuses.
Offer augmented shopping experiences to your customers
One of the primary applications for augmented reality has come from the shopping sector. The “try before you buy” style of augmented reality is a powerful tool in marketing products and services to the tech-savvy consumer. Not only can augmented reality enhance the shopping experience, it can draw in new customers who are attracted to the idea of using technology to supplement their purchasing decisions.
The retail industry has already seen sweeping use of the technology. Everything from clothing to makeup and accessories, and even home decor have benefited from the unique way augmented reality can allow consumers to try products before spending money on them.
Several furniture companies, including IKEA, have joined in on the augmented reality experience as one of the most promising retail trends. With IKEA’s AR app, customers are able to preview furniture live in their homes, simply by launching the app and placing their furniture purchase somewhere in their room. By utilizing a smart device’s external camera, IKEA shoppers can preview exactly how well that new desk will fit with the rest of their décor.
Home Depot is doing something similar, with the ability to preview furniture, appliances, and even room colors. By giving customers the ability to try out a color before painting the bedroom, they can increase the likelihood of a sale and boost customer satisfaction. Customers are much more likely to dive right into a brand new paint job if they can see, live and in-person, how that new color will look in the baby’s room.
It’s not just retailers jumping on the augmented reality bandwagon either. Facebook is currently using the technology to try and boost ad revenue by increasing the chance of making a partnered sale. Kors took advantage of this new technology to let Facebook users try on sunglasses digitally through their ad placements. A long list of other retailers have joined that train, including Sephora and even Pottery Barn.
The products may be different, but the overall strategy is the same. Giving customers the opportunity to experience products before making a purchasing decision can drastically increase buying confidence for consumers. Seeing a new piece of clothing on a photoshopped model is one thing; being able to look in a pseudo-mirror via a mobile device camera is another thing entirely.
Retailers, both online and offline, can use augmented reality to:
- enhance shopping experience
- increase customer engagement
- bridge the gap between online and offline shopping
- maximize buying confidence
Retail clothing giant Macy’s also came to this realization last year, and launched a new virtual product preview in select stores. They also began beta testing an iOS app that allowed consumers to preview makeup. Customers can now try hundreds of different makeup combinations without ever getting their hands dirty.
Lacoste, Timberland, Sephora, Topshop, Lowe’s — the list goes on. They may provide for different industries, but they each have something in common. All of these retailers have found success in implementing augmented reality into both their stores and their e-commerce presence.
Leave a lasting impression with augmented branding materials
Being able to leave a lasting impression is a critical part of marketing, and augmented reality offers a solution here as well. By using image tracking or bar code scans, prospective customers can simply scan a business card to attain more information about your products or services.
This scanning feature could utilize a range of marketing materials. When a user scans your business card or brochure, for example, it could open a short product demonstration or promotional video along with a link to your website.
Augmented branding gives several avenues to enhance your ability to leave a lasting impression on new contacts. A simple business card or brochure can often be forgettable. An augmented one will not only remind the customer of your business, it can improve the perception of your organization as a tech-savvy and customer-focused company.
Create buzz around your brand
Creative uses for augmented reality have the potential to create a huge buzz around your brand or company. This kind of campaigning can drive a huge amount of interest in a product, service, or company by capturing the consumer’s imagination. Not only can this engage curious onlookers in whatever you’re trying to promote, this kind of marketing has huge potential to go viral, reaching millions of viewers and generating massive amounts of exposure.
Many big-name brands have already taken advantage of this. Pepsi utilized this emerging technology to commandeer a bus stop in London, transforming the back pane of the stop into a fake window that displayed a variety of random images linked back to the Pepsi brand. Curious onlookers jockeyed for position to get a look at the vivid display, wanting to see what all the fuss was about. This all was linked back, through clever marketing, to the Pepsi brand, creating buzz around their products.
The more creative and innovative the application, the bigger the buzz. For Netflix’s release of the hit series Stranger Things, Netflix partnered with Snapchat to launch an augmented reality application that turned users’ living rooms into a living picture of the world from the show. Delighted viewers could interact with the virtual world around them through the app, and even find their way to various locations found in the show.
Creating new ways to raise awareness around a product or service is one of the most powerful applications for augmented reality, and the next exciting product buzz could be found in the next marketing brainstorm.
Boost your B2B sales with engaging product presentations
In the Business-to-Business (B2B) world, augmented reality will soon be making sweeping changes to the way clients purchase — and interact with — products and services. Many of the concepts already listed above are just as relevant in the business sales space as they are in the consumer sales space. These applications have the same potential to transform marketing and support when used correctly. From sales to marketing and ongoing service support, augmented reality is already positioned to reduce costs, increase sales, and have a significant impact on ROI.
Business sales are often a multi-step process. While initial contact may be performed by a website, business card, brochure, or a casual meeting, there’s no replacement for a good sales pitch between a skilled salesman and a team of decision-makers. Augmented reality adds an entirely new dimension to this pitch, giving prospective clients a new way to interact with products or services they’re considering purchasing.
Direct product presentations that would otherwise be impossible can be turned into reality using this technology. An architectural firm looking to add a centerpiece to their lobby may have trouble visualizing how a series of drawings will look to new clients, but a presentation with an augmented reality camera app can give a very real picture of how the finished work will look. Almost any complex, artistic, or spatially-oriented product can benefit from augmented reality, giving buyers increased confidence in the end result of their purchasing decisions.
Gain an edge in service and product support with augmented reality
Service support is another area augmented reality can excel at delivering results to. Particularly when it comes to service agreements for complex software or hardware, augmented reality finds a comfortable application for self-service knowledge bases. Instead of being forced to contact a support representative, clients can view an interactive augmented reality application that provides the information they need.
Getting ahead of potential client questions or required training by implementing an augmented reality support system inspires confidence and encourages continued partnership. By driving forward collaboration using technology, businesses can secure prospective client loyalty simply by providing the best experience possible using AR.
Augmented reality will continue to see use in the business-to-business sales world, and potential applications for industry devices expand on a daily basis. AR for enterprise -comprising everything from AR-based training programs to enhanced worker information acquisition-will soon see use in factories, corporate offices, and off-site locations.
Full article originally published at https://mobidev.biz.