Brands have been using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies to create virtual stores or smart glasses - changing the way consumers interact with and perceive brands. But does this mean the end of in-store experiences? And what does this mean for the future of retail?
The impact of technology in the retail sector was discussed at length in a day of presentations at Tug’s Human Versus Machine four-day expo in London.
Below are three key highlights of the day.
‘If you don’t evolve, you go the way of Blockbuster’
Buying a car can be a confusing process, but it doesn't have to be, claimed Nick King, insight director at Auto Trader. Automotive companies can make the buying process easier - by utilising their data sets on customers.
“Buying a car is like being on a gameshow like Total Wipeout – there’s pressure, the possibility that [consumers will] get ripped off or succeed and win,” said King. “[Companies] should be able to track the customer journey and see how many times someone has viewed a particular car before purchasing, using data to help them rather than be intimidated by it.”
King warned: “If you don’t change and evolve, you go the way of Blockbuster – change is inevitable.”
Augmented Reality can create a ‘visual browser’ for the world
AR and VR is set to reach $117.40bn in sales by 2022, according to research. Retail giant Tesco has been using it allow customers to visualise products in their home using an AR version of their Home Book Catalogue. Ikea’s new AR app (in collaboration with Apple) will allow customers to see what furniture looks like in their homes.
But for Omaid Hiwaizi, global head of experience strategy at Blippar, AR has the potential to change physical shopping by helping to cross-sell other products within a brand.
“AR creates a visual browser for the world around you by providing content on everything from brands like McDonalds to cars and clothes,” he outlined in his presentation. “Brands can bring a product like Max Factor’s expertise to life – enhancing a customer’s in-store experience.”
Content as an e-commerce opportunity
To survive in the new e-commerce world, brands need to start thinking of content as a utility not just something you read, according to Alicia Navarro, CEO and founder at Skimlinks. In her presentation, she spoke about the emergence of a sub-group of commerce-driven content (COMTENT) which is written like editorial content but with an e-commerce angle. It covers content like product reviews and gives insights into a reader’s shopping behaviour.
“Brands can use these insights to learn which product links drive more traffic,” she explained. “Content should be viewed as something that serves. How can it add value and affect reader’s lives? Comtent is not just ads – people like it for its editorial value.”
It's clear that the opportunities to target consumers with new technologies are abundant. Brands just need to grasp them – or risk falling behind.
This is the third piece in a series of articles The Drum will be publishing each month based on the topics covered during the week at the Human Versus Machine expo in London.