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AR could breathe new life into high-street retail

Written by Eric Johansson on Monday, 18 September 2017. Posted in Audience, Sales & Marketing

New research from Warwick Business Schools has revealed that using AR apps could help increase the footfall in bricks-and-mortar shops

AR could breathe new life into high-street retail

Augmented reality (AR) is looking increasingly likely to become the next big thing. Not only did Apple last week become the latest tech giant to announce new pushes into the technology but a new study has also just revealed that retailers may benefit from it too. In fact, it could actually help bricks-and-mortar businesses reclaim some of the footfall lost to online competitors.

Having surveyed over 21,400 smartphone users, researchers at Warwick Business School, found that providing shoppers with experiences like virtually trying out fashion on an app or checking out furniture through their smartphones could boost the physical visits to their shops. After having used their AR services, 41.2% of the people surveyed said they are more likely to purchase from the retailer, 48.8% are happier with the items purchased and 39% are more likely to revisit a shop. Additionally, the researchers found that providing an AR experience could also help boost companies’ brands, as 41.1% of respondents said they are more likely to tell others about the retailer and 29.2% said they are more loyal to the company after using an AR service.

However, before jumping on the AR bandwagon, retailers should be aware that the researchers also noted that customers also had some negative feedback. For instance, 31.4% of the people surveyed worry about being forced to reveal too much information about themselves in order to use the apps. A quarter also think that the apps weren’t integrated enough with their shopping and an additional fifth believes the products aren’t reliable enough to use regularly. Another hint that developers may have to work out a few kinks before AR shopping apps become more mainstream is that 20.1% think the apps take too long to learn to use.

Commenting on the research, Scott Dacko, associate professor of marketing and strategic management at Warwick Business school and the author of the report, said: “Augmented reality mobile applications for shopping can boost retailer performance by many measures: increased market share, sales and profitability.” Nevertheless, he noted that consumers “are fearful of the Big Brother aspect, of being bombarded with marketing messages and of identity theft if their information is stored or hacked”.

Roughly a year after Pokémon Go first used the technology to make people go looking for Pikachus and Squirtles in their local neighbourhoods, this research shows that retailers should take AR seriously if they want to keep up with their online competitors.

About the Author

Eric Johansson

As web editor and resident Viking, Johansson ensures EB is filled with engaging and eclectic entrepreneurial stories. While one of our most prolific tech writers, he has sharpened his editorial teeth by writing about entertainment and fitness. 

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