Up to 100 million consumers could shop through online augmented reality (AR) experiences and in-store, research and advisory company Gartner has predicted.
A combination of online AR experiences, apps and in-store applications of immersive technology through the adoption of fifth-generation (5G) connectivity could transform consumer expectations and services.
“Retailers are under increasing pressure to explain the purpose of physical stores, and take control of the fulfillment and return process for cross-channel execution,” explained Hanna Karki, principal research analyst at Gartner.
“At the same time, consumers are progressively defining the value provided by the experiences they receive from retailers. As a result of these pressures, retailers are turning to AR and VR to offer customers a unified retail experience inside and outside retail stores.”
A 2018 Gartner survey of 97 respondents revealed that 46% of retailers planned to deploy either AR or virtual reality (VR) solutions to meet customer service experience requirements. The technologies behind these solutions have also moved 15% to 30% further along the Gartner Hype Cycle over the past 12 months.
Gartner cited examples of AR and VR being used online and in-store, including IKEA’s Place app, enables customers to virtually ‘place’ IKEA products, as well as Alibaba’s full VR shopping experience, VR tours by Tesco, Adidas’s VR video to promote its outdoor clothing collection, and eBay Australia’s partnerships with Myer to create personalised stores.
“The impact of AR or VR in retail can be transformative,” said Karki. “Retailers can use AR as an extension of the brand experience to engage customers in immersive environments and drive revenue.”
The advent of 5G mobile connectivity is particularly important, according to Gartner, because it represents an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of AR and VR in stores.
Gartner’s recent 5G enterprise survey indicated that AR/VR applications of 5G attract the highest expectations for becoming drivers of new revenue, across all use cases and respondents.
“Gartner expects that the implementation of 5G and AR/VR in stores will transform not only customer engagement but also the entire product management cycle of brands,” said Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner. “5G can optimise warehouse resources, enhance store traffic analytics and enable beacons that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones.”