Representing the next evolution in virtual reality (VR) technology, interest in augmented reality (AR) is booming in 2019. Not only is it popular in modern video games and smartphone apps, but it’s even being integrated with today’s wearable tech and smart home appliances.
With a forecasted one billion AR and VR users by 2020, it’s a demographic that’s impossible to ignore. In fact, AR is so popular right now that it’s used to strengthen the customer experience in ways that we never thought possible.
Focusing on the customer experience
The technology is now prevalent in museums as a way of interjecting virtual life into their displays. A few notable AR-oriented destinations include the National Museum of Singapore, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu, China. It’s also popular among luxury resorts and modern hotel chains. Marriott is currently developing an in-room AR art experience that lets guests redecorate the artwork on their walls – all in a virtualized space, of course. The results are easily uploaded and can be shared across social media, effectively increasing the brand’s reach, while simultaneously using AR and next-gen technology to improve the customer experience.
Fast food chains are using AR in fun and innovative ways, too. Bareburger is one of the first restaurants to feature fully virtualized meals that can be viewed before placing an order – all through the familiar Snapchat platform and the power of augmented reality.
Even some of today’s retail establishments and big box stores are embracing AR. Ikea, the Sweden-based furniture outlet, was amongst the earliest adopters of AR. Other popular retailers and brands to embrace AR include Lowes, Converse, Patron and more.
Benefits to your business
It’s clear that AR benefits modern businesses in many different ways. Now that you’ve found out how others are using the technology, it’s time to understand how it applies to your business. More importantly, we’ll explore some strategies to help you get started with AR and gain an edge over your competition.
The business benefits of AR vary from industry to industry. In the retail sector, companies typically benefit from:
- Highly customizable content that better matches the customers’ needs.
- The ability to promote printed content, including virtual magazines and even limited time coupons.
- Removing language barriers via automated, AR-powered translation services.
In real estate, agents can use AR to maximize their profitability by:
- Hosting virtualized or augmented tours.
- Letting customers redecorate or renovate buildings in a virtualized space.
The hospitality industry also enjoys numerous benefits from AR, including:
- Showcasing guestrooms, suites, and amenities through an interactive, virtual tour.
- Directing customer traffic to streamline and optimize the check-in process.
Although the brunt of augmented reality is seen in the retail and entertainment industries, its influence is starting to spread into other areas. Businesses in manufacturing, warehousing, and other industrial sectors also benefit from AR in various ways, including:
- Improving operations by providing visual, step-by-step instructions on common processes.
- Diagnosing and simplifying maintenance by analyzing parts and highlighting bottlenecks.
- Testing out virtual prototypes that are fully modifiable in real-time.
- Projecting product images on warehouse shelves to aid in stocking and inventory management.
Many of AR’s strengths focus on improving customer engagement and expanding the overall customer experience. With a renewed emphasis on guest services and customer satisfaction in 2019, your patrons might see a greater benefit from the integration of AR than your immediate workforce.
Advantages for your customers
The majority of today’s AR applications center on improving the customer experience in one way or another – and sometimes in ways that we never thought possible. Pokemon Go, for example, is a popular video game and one of the earliest examples of augmented reality in the 21st century. It also demonstrated the level of innovation and ingenuity that is only possible through mediums like AR.
Although it was primarily geared for younger gamers, Pokemon Go pushed consumer interest in AR by leaps and bounds. It also drove AR software developers to push for bigger and better things with their own releases. The result is a flood of AR and VR solutions that help you meet all of your customer’s needs.
But customer needs vary from industry to industry, company to company, and even between individual consumers. Understanding these specific needs and catering to them as much as possible is the key to success.
Nonetheless, there are some fundamental advantages of AR that apply in nearly every case, including:
- Customer service that is quicker and more efficient than ever before.
- The ability to view products – including various color options – before committing to a purchase.
- Easy access to customer reviews and comprehensive product information.
Other benefits of AR are applicable to one specific industry or another.
- Visual guides to help customers locate products quicker.
- Tie-ins with in-store promotions and discounts, including printed coupons.
- Video games that can reward users.
- Hands-on, interactive training sessions for employees or end-users.
There are several additional benefits, too, many of which apply specifically to your customer base. For best results, couple your AR with big data to target certain demographics and track your results. Not only does this let you gauge your success and determine the value that augmented reality adds to your company, but it lets you know how you’re faring against other businesses in the 21st century – including your biggest competitors.
Can you afford to miss out on the AR revolution?
As you can see, the AR revolution is a trend that you cannot afford to ignore. Missing the boat on the latest technological trend not only puts you behind your competitors, but it sells your customers short, too. Conversely, those who are willing to act now and embrace AR in its current state will be among the first businesses to reap the rewards in 2019 and beyond.
To find out more information on how you can put AR to work for you, your workforce and your customers, please contact the professionals at AugRay today! We offer a range of AR solutions that are highly customizable and capable of bolstering the customer experience in ways that you’ve never even imagined.