You’ve heard of public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, but what about AR cloud that’s creating a buzz in the retail world? Augmented Reality shopping and AR cloud is the future that will transform how retail enterprises interact with customers.
Imagine people shopping using their AR enabled apps and picking their own individual digital realities in real time. Their realities can be shared with each other and help in endorsing their purchases. This real time interaction is what augmented shopping is about. While AR shopping feature is the visible front end, it’s the AR cloud working behind the scenes that strives to deliver an excellent customer experience.
Getting AR right for retailers
We all know that AR is an altered form of reality where content overlays the users’ real-world views. The technology lets people add digital assets to their physical environment. Brands like Zara, Ikea, Lacoste, Converse and others have focused on providing an integrated, seamless customer experience by leveraging AR cloud technology trends to stay ahead of the game. That includes merging the digital and in-store retail experience through AR.
While augmented reality doesn’t add to the physical reality, it will certainly help with reaffirming your decisions with product recommendations. Ikea’s Place app for example allows customers to preview over thousands of virtual furniture in actual rooms within their home. Thus, allowing to visualize their selections in their home settings.
Apps like Sephora’s Virtual Artist, Gap’s Dressing Room or L’Oreal Paris’s Makeup Genius app helps remove barriers for consumers and help provide a clear path to purchase.
Building the Augmented Reality Cloud
Similar to the other clouds, AR cloud also leverages vast data sources for providing the geo-spatial relevant content to users.
Brands leveraging AR have a close relationship with AI. This allows the retail apps to display labelled objects and identify them in the viewer’s visual point of view. In addition, Chrome AR is another product that leverages AI. Users can now log on to the AR-enabled websites to access the same level of functionality.
Smartphones are ubiquitous (nearly 77% of US adults) as per Pew Internet research. That makes it relevant for retailers to use robust AI and ML solutions that extends to the AR and MR spaces. By pairing consumer profiles with AR and ML, retailers can identify customer needs based on their environments and provide them with recommendations.
For this, the AR devices must be capable of understanding our world. Imagine displaying product signs or in-store navigation signs far from their expected locations. This totally discounts the usefulness of an AR experience.
So, what’s preventing wide-scale AR adoption?
One thing which the current social apps offer is interaction and collaboration. The capability of sharing experiences, status, content, and sentiment is the differentiator that’s missing in the AR. At present, the AR experienced by the customer is an individual one. That is, it isn’t possible to make seamless real-time multiplayer AR experiences or have content that didn’t persist in the spaces where these AR sessions unfolded.
One of the key hurdles for global adoption of AR is that until now, all the AR frameworks placed the virtual objects on flat surfaces. That is they were designed to be viewed within space no more than a few meters in front of you. Your location has no significant impact on the content viewed.
If retail enterprises want to truly incorporate the AR experience, then a 3D representation of the virtual objects which the customer can interact with, is essential. That’s exactly what the AR cloud brings forth.
Future of shopping is in AR Cloud
Ori Inbar, co-founder of Augmented Reality.org and founder and general manager at Super Ventures, coined the “AR cloud” term. Describing it as the single most important software infrastructure in computing, the AR cloud is really about enabling a persistent and shareable AI experience anywhere you go in the world.
That shifts the focus of AR Cloud adoption from the using phones to cameras as a primary mode of communication. Retailers offering apps with better motion tracking and depth perception capabilities results in more precise alignment and object positioning within a physical space.
Here are the characteristics of AR Cloud:
► Enhances customer loyalty and engagement: Allow retailers to deliver hyper-personalized interactions and customized offerings with ease due to its ability to analyze IoT data & then enable it to persist.
► Shared experiences: Experiences should be shared among multiple participants to enhance engagement opportunities across enterprises.
► Large scale mapping: Users should be able to search for and locate smaller objects within large spaces
► Reduce support costs: Important information is provided quickly and at the right place, resulting in faster action and prevention of mistakes during specific tasks.
► Anchored: Objects should appear not floating in space but rather anchored with precise or near precise accuracy to their actual location in the physical space
AR for retail is about adding value to the physical world around us. Retailers should consider moving on to an AR-enabled store to allow shoppers access in-store merchandise digital information and media through their own apps, instead of a 3rd party. Videos and recommendations further aid in making and increasing in-store purchase decisions.