Retail Revolution: Augmented Reality Transforms Shopping Experiences

Shopping just got a whole lot easier with Augmented Reality

Market research indicates that by the year 2020, there will be 100 million people using augmented reality (AR) while shopping.1 By implementing AR, retailers have made shopping a convenient process for every customer while simultaneously modernizing direct marketing. Brands are searching for unique ways to market directly to consumers, which is seen in Agency Spotter’s 2019 Marketing Trends Report with the 230% increase in searches for direct marketing.

Keep on reading to see exactly how augmented reality is taking the retail world by storm.

augmented reality

The Future of Catalogs 

It’s well known that paper catalogs are being replaced by apps. However, as brands integrate AR capabilities into their apps many have chosen to also create a unique customer experience around it. Earlier this year, Amazon worked with Groove Jones, an AR VR experiential marketing agency located in Dallas, TX to create the ultimate pop-up AR experience. Their AR app brought both fashion and fitness to life for a private health and wellness event. The app allows users to see how Amazon’s athletic wear looks while using it.

Groove Jones - Amazon

Help! I’m Lost

augmented reality

Say goodbye to getting lost in retail stores! Brands are now utilizing AR to help shoppers navigate through the store and find products faster than ever before. 

Lowe’s is just one of many stores taking advantage of this tool. The app allows users to create a shopping list and then provides shoppers with directions on the simplest way to gather everything on that shopping list.2

Individual retailers aren’t the only ones trying to tackle this issue. Dent Reality is offering their services to help bring indoor AR navigation to malls as well as individual retail locations. This being said, augmented reality directions are on the rise.3

Product Testing

Brands across all sectors are taking advantage of AR to help their customers avoid buyer’s remorse. Whether buying online or in-store, AR technology is ensuring that consumers purchase products they can actually use. 

Seen in the examples below, AR is allowing brands to capitalize on connivence. By providing shoppers with a more modern and simple shopping experience, retailers are able to increase customer loyalty. 



Image Credit: Nike

Retailers are trying to improve every aspect of shoppers experience and this extends to the hassle of trying on clothes. To combat this struggle, an increasing number of brands are integrating AR powered mirrors in their stores. These mirrors allow buyers to virtually try on apparel by simply standing in front of this smart mirror.

In summer of 2019, Nike will also be capitalizing on AR to help consumers. Nike Fit will be available to shoppers via the Nike app and it will allow shoppers to use AR to find the right size shoe. It uses a combination of computer vision, artificial intelligence, data science, recommendation algorithms, and machine learning to let users scan and measure their feet.4


Meanwhile, there’s an increasing number of beauty brands integrating AR into their business model. L’Oréal recently announced their 100% acquisition of the technology provider Modiface, a leader in the AR and AI beauty industry. Modiface technology has allowed users to virtually test beauty products without the hassle of actually trying everything on. Modiface has made AR beauty apps for Sephora, Estée Lauder, among others.5

In addition to these beauty brands offering AR features within their app, many of them are also providing shoppers with a unique in-store experience as well. In 2016, Sephora launched their Virtual Artist. This “try on” ability can be found on their app as well as at their in-store kiosks. Sephora reports that more than 200 million shades of makeup have been tried on since its initial launch. 


Furniture brands are using AR enhanced apps to help customers bring a potential piece of furniture into their own home. Ikea Place is one example of this. Ikea’s app allows shoppers to determine how furniture will look and fit in their home before purchasing it. 

augmented reality

Information at Your Fingertips

Smartphones and the ability to google any question drastically changed how many people shop. Retailers are now going one step further to ensure that customers don’t waste time roaming the store with the hopes of locating an employee. In some stores, shoppers can now scan displays and finally see everything they could possibly want to know about the product. 

American Apparel is one company that has integrated this model into their in-store shopping experience. As a result, their shoppers now have the ability to see in-depth product details, such as, color options, pricing, and reviews.2

AR Shopping – Not Taking Over the World

While many retailers are incorporating AR technology into their marketing platforms, it’s important to realize that AR may not necessarily “take over” the world. Producing an AR app isn’t cheap…in fact, the development can cost anywhere from $300,000 to $30 million.6

In addition, adoption of AR and usage time aren’t yet growing as exponentially as other technologies such as the growth and usage of smartphones. But, as companies and consumers find the right fit experiences that prove more than just cool to try out, most expect this space to boom.

When It’s Worth It?

So, how does a company determine if it’s worth adding this technology? AR needs to add value to customers, meaning it needs to make life easier for shoppers. It can be an extremely powerful tool when used properly and even has the ability to enhance people’s understanding. With more visual and audible information, consumers will feel better about their purchases.7


1 Gartner | 2 Shopify | Road to VR | 4 Nike | 5 Chain Store Age – The Business of Retail | 6 Harvard Business Review | 7 The Sociable | 

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Nicole Schuster
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