In recent years, we’ve seen many futuristic technologies brought to life with modern science. From food delivery robots to self-driving cars and shops that don’t require checkouts. In many ways, it feels as if we are moving towards a world we’ve only seen previously on sci-fi shows. Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) are included in this list of exciting technologies created in the recent past. With the power to transport you to another planet, into a game or do everyday tasks like work training, AR and VR both create amazing experiences and provide useful tools for everyday life. In the marketing world, new technology brings with it new trends and tools to boost sales. So, in this article we’ll look at what AR and VR are exactly and how marketers are utilising them.
What is VR?
Before we get into the uses of VR and AR for marketers, it is important to understand what they are and how they work. Firstly, Virtual reality is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment using a headset. By placing a headset over the eyes, VR technology blocks out your surroundings, creating new visual and auditory sensations. This can make you feel as if you are in another world or existing inside a game. So, virtual reality works by changing your surroundings and creating new physical worlds.
What is AR?
AR on the other hand, adds elements to your current world through the lense of a camera. I’m sure many of us have tried AR before with games such as Pokemon Go, or even with filters used on social media sites like Snapchat and Instagram. However, we may not think about how useful it can be in terms of marketing. AR can be a useful tool in everyday life and can help your customers decide to purchase your products.
So, what makes AR and VR so invaluable to marketers? Let’s take a look.
- Customers can try before they buy
Using AR and VR technology, customers are now able to try your products before they buy them. During the pandemic, customers were not allowed within shops, let alone try products out for themselves. This led to a large problem for many businesses. How would customers purchase correct makeup shades, clothes sizes and other products if they couldn’t go and look at them in person? Luckily, with current technology, AR has been able to help people solve this problem. By using your phone’s camera, you can now try on virtual makeup shades on your face to find the right one for you. For example, Estee Lauder allows you to try on foundation and concealer shades on their website. This allows customers to find the correct shade for their skin tone, so they are more confident making a purchase. This is backed by research that has found that 40% of customers are willing to pay more for a product if they can experience it first through AR. So, AR promotes more sales as customers can try before they buy.
- Create a personalised shopping experience
Businesses have already realised the importance and the benefits of personalised advertisements. With AR and VR, you can create advertisements that are even more personalised, boosting your sales and customer engagement. Retailers can use AR to provide 3D graphic, rich content instead of a simple 2D banner. This provides an immersive experience and increases user engagement. With AR, customers can also get the chance to customise their own products, producing a completely personalised product. Customised products are one of the top selling items in the retail industry.
- Improve customer satisfaction and customer return rate
Customers are more likely to continue purchasing from a brand if they have a pleasant experience with your brand. With the technology of AR and VR allowing customers to get a more personalised experience, they are more likely to have a good experience. VR and AR in retail then will help you keep customers and encourage repeat purchases. Allowing customers to try your product before they buy it will also create a much lower chance of return. This will then lower returns and boost sales, which is what every business is looking to do. Therefore, the businesses that take part and use VR and AR now will likely reap the most benefit before other businesses get involved.
- Employee training
Training employees is always a complicated and usually lengthy process. With many things that could go wrong, it can also sometimes be risky for businesses as they may lose monetary gain due to mistakes from trainees. In order to combat this, AR and VR can be used. VR can allow customers to be trained by simulating real life situations, much like how pilots use flight simulations. In this way, employees can be safely trained in consequence free zones that allow them to gain confidence without the fear of making a real life mistake.
- Virtual stores
While some stores such as Harrods created virtual reality stores so that customers could see upcoming items without physically being in a shop during lockdown, VR can also be used to greatly help shoppers in store too. For example, virtual store apps can help customers find their way around your store to help them find what they’re looking for. This can be greatly useful in shopping malls and airports, showing customers a virtual path to their destination. This will increase your customers’ satisfaction with your store, encouraging them to make repeat purchases due to their ease of purchase.
Overall, AR and VR can greatly help sales by increasing customer satisfaction, streamlining training and reducing return orders. Therefore, all businesses should aim to work this technology into their marketing strategies to reap the benefits before it becomes the norm.