VR and AR are among the fastest-growing and most disruptive technologies. According to data, there will be an estimated 1.73 billion AR users globally by 2024.
When it comes to retail, VR and AR are promising to be game changers, enabling the transition of commerce into the metaverse and the delivery of immersive shopping experiences by brands. Data shows that 60% of consumers are willing to try AR in online shopping.
AR and VR help customers visualize and interact with a product in an almost natural setting before committing to buying it. Using these technologies improves brand loyalty through better customer engagement, enhanced buyer’s journey, and more control over the shopping experience by the customer.
Here’s what you need to know about AR and VR and why you should consider adding them to your online shopping experience.
What is Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)?
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are disparate yet connected technologies.
VR involves using cutting-edge technology to create 3D spaces with which the user can interact in a real-life-like manner. VR experiences can vary wildly, from a simple 360-degree film to an entirely computer-generated world filled with interactive content.
AR uses cutting-edge technology to superimpose images or objects onto the physical world. Its primary difference with VR is that it combines the physical space with the virtual world, blurring the lines between reality and imaginary content. VR takes the user away from the physical space.
VR content can only be accessed using specific equipment, specifically a VR headset or glasses. Some of the most popular choices include Apple’s Vision Pro, Meta Quest 3, PSVR, and HTC Vive. These pieces of equipment can be combined with hand controllers that allow you to hear, see, and interact with the virtual world.
AR, however, needs less complicated equipment to access and use. There’s been mass-market adoption of AR in popular games such as Pokémon Go and apps such as Snapchat. However, top-end AR experiences may require more advanced gear, such as Microsoft Hololens 2.
VR has the power to fully immerse the user into their environment and invoke feelings of empathy which can create deeper, longer-lasting connections. On the other hand, AR has a mass-market appeal that can make immersive experiences more accessible to a larger audience.
What’s the Importance of AR and VR in Retail?
Millennials form the more significant percentage of online shoppers today. Despite a good number still preferring in-store shopping, most desire to have the flexibility of viewing and trying out a product online before purchasing it.
With AR and VR, customers can get such online shopping experiences, visiting brands in immersive online spaces such as virtual stores.
We’ve introduced virtual stores for brands such as P&G, Mitsubishi, and Calvin Klein. Adopting this concept has had overwhelmingly positive results for these brands.
According to data, 61% of consumers say they prefer retailers with AR experiences and 71% of consumers would shop more often if they used AR.
AR and VR also allow customers to customize products and make quick and intelligent purchasing decisions. The satisfaction they get from these experiences boosts brand trust and sales.
How AR and VR Boost Customer Loyalty
The following are five key ways AR and VR help boost customer loyalty for brands selling online.
Better Customer Engagement and Involvement
The use of AR and VR in online shopping experiences vastly improves customer involvement and engagement.
VR vastly improves customer engagement by allowing brands to provide immersive virtual tours of their stores and provide detailed information about a product. AR can help project products into the real world and give the buyer perspective of their look, use, and feel.
Consequently, customers are more engaged in the buying process and feel more involved with the brand as they actively get their questions answered and try out new products.
Enhanced Buyer Journey
The modern buyer journey involves omnichannel marketing, with buyers going through multiple digital touchpoints. AR and VR experiences enhance this journey, giving the customers the ultimate experience as they move through different stages.
For instance, AR and VR give a fresher way of delivering product information, which is crucial in the consideration phase. These technologies also increase widespread recognition and curiosity about your brand, which is essential in the awareness phase, and offer highly-personalized shopping experiences that encourage customers to remain loyal, improving retention.
Well-designed AR and VR experiences also eliminate a lot of friction in the purchasing stage since customers have experienced the product virtually, had their questions answered, and have a good idea of how the product will look in their physical space.
More Customer Control
Customers want to be in more control of their online shopping experiences. Through virtual stores and showrooms, AR and VR give customers complete control over their shopping experience, allowing them to have a self-guided tour of the store and products and get any information they need when needed.
More control allows customers to shop from their perspective and feel more comfortable purchasing. Consequently, they start preferring shopping from your brand over the competition.
Better Product View and Interaction Before Purchase
According to a study, while 75% of Gen Z shoppers prefer shopping online, 65% want to touch and feel these items before committing to a purchase. Brands that fail to offer such experiences fail to capture their attention, trust, and loyalty.
With AR and VR, customers can try various products and build confidence that they will solve their problems or work as intended. That’s different from using static 2D images placed in a non-contextual environment.
Improved Product Customization
Product customization is crucial if you’re to attract more customers and make more sales. Allowing product customizations adds an essential touch of personalization to your brand’s shopping experience since customers can shop for unique products instead of standard generic options.
With AR and VR, customers can easily customize products such as furniture and clothing to suit their styles and various needs. With such flexibility, you enhance brand loyalty since customers can build the exact product they want and make a positive buying decision.
Tap into the Potential of Immersive Experiences
VR and AR lie at the center of immersive shopping experiences that catalyze improved brand loyalty. Immersive your customers in unique experiences by investing in virtual showrooms, virtual stores, and other immersive experiences for your online buyers. Contact a professional and learn how you can get started.