Augmented Reality Retail: Stats, Benefits & Examples

In the ever-changing world of retail, one groundbreaking technology is transforming how we shop: augmented reality.

Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to change the essence of retail. Imagine walking into a store and instantly reviewing personalised product lists, virtually trying on clothes, or effortlessly being guided around a store as you tick off your shopping list.

Whilst this shopping experience might still sound like a dream, it is in fact incredibly close to reality, thanks to AR in retail advancing at an incredible rate. As retailers strive to create immersive, engaging, and unique experiences, AR has emerged as a game changer in the retail industry.

In this article, we’re going to dive head-first into the world of augmented reality in retail, exploring its applications, benefits, future, and more. So, we hope you’re ready to discover how this cutting-edge technology is shaping the future of retail and creating a new era of shopping experiences.

A smartphone being used to view a laptop in AR with the product page on a laptop to the right.

What is augmented reality in retail?

Augmented reality (AR) seamlessly merges the physical and virtual worlds, displaying digital images and information within a real environment. Simply put, AR enables users to see the real world while projecting digital objects onto it. Augmented reality in retail is the integration of this technology in the retail shopping experience, from in-store to online experiences.

This dynamic interaction between the digital and physical realms enhances user experiences, providing valuable context and insights, and enabling new ways to visualise and engage with information.

Why is augmented reality in retail important?

With technology moving at an incredibly fast pace, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up. But the people who are keeping up are your consumers. Augmented reality is changing the way that we experience shopping both in-store and online, and falling behind only leads to you missing out on customers to your competitors.

From virtually trying on clothing to being able to fully customise products and view them in real-time in any space reality is giving customers the ammunition to make quicker, smarter, and more confident decisions. Augmented reality in retail does not only boost your customer engagement and conversions, it also shows your dedication to innovation and providing the very best customer experiences. Can you afford to be left behind?

Augmented reality in retail: the benefits

What actually makes augmented reality in retail so special? In this section, we will explore some of the top benefits that AR in retail provides to both customs and retailers alike. Let’s jump into:

1. Enhanced customer experience

Augmented reality in retail unlocks a new layer of customer interactions that were previously inaccessible, significantly changing, and improving the customer experience.

AR bridges the gap between online and offline experiences in retail. Augmented reality experiences can be deployed in-store and online (AR in eCommerce), creating a seamless and more connected experience for customers.

Customers will also have access to more information. With AR in retail, customers can overlay digital data, such as product specifications, pricing, customer reviews, and related recommendations, onto physical products in real time. This empowers customers to make well-informed purchasing decisions, eliminating uncertainties and providing a deeper understanding of the product’s features and benefits.

With AR in retail, customers can also explore various product variations in-store, such as colour, size, and related items. Take a furniture store as an example: if you find a sofa you like but it’s not available in the desired colour or material, AR can come to the rescue. With AR technology, customers can view and order different variations of a product even if it’s not physically available in-store. This can be achieved through their smart devices or by setting up a dedicated kiosk that allows them to browse 3D product model variations with ease.

2. Increased customer engagement rates

As retailers shift towards more in-person experiences, many need to put their creative hats on to work out how to increase engagement within retail stores.

Luckily AR tackles engagement head-on. AR in retail naturally fosters engagement thanks to its interactive properties, which further the curiosity of customers. Research highlights that 61% of shoppers prefer retailers with AR experience, and 71% said they would shop more often if they used AR.

Data collected from AR retail experiences is also incredibly powerful, not only will it support existing data, but it will provide plenty of new channels and insights to exploit.

3. Reduced return rates

High return rates have been one of the most significant challenges faced by retailers. Market research firm Mintel discovered that 49% of UK online shoppers had returned items purchased within the past year, with this figure escalating to 60% for consumers aged between 16-34.

A comprehensive 2019 report from UPS surveyed 18,000 global online shoppers to determine the reasons behind these returns. The primary reason, accounting for 30%, was attributed to faulty or damaged products, closely followed by 27% of consumers who cited that the products were ‘not as described.’

AR technology helps tackle high return rates by enabling customers to make well-informed decisions, ultimately decreasing product returns.

4. Brand differentiation

Implementing AR sets retailers apart from competitors, demonstrating a commitment to innovation and customer-centric experiences. AR-powered features attract customers, create positive brand associations, and differentiate retailers in a crowded market.

Augmented reality in retail: applications and examples

In today’s rapidly evolving retail landscape, AR has emerged as a game-changing technology that breaks the boundaries of shopping experiences. Innovative and transformative solutions have led to more and more retailers embracing the technology.

Connecting online and offline experiences is one of the main goals of augmented reality in retail, in this section, we’re going to dive into how AR achieves this with various applications and examples of augmented reality in retail.

Augmented reality viewers

One of the most popular ways retailers utilise AR is through augmented reality product viewers. AR viewers use web-based AR technology to allow users to view products in their own space (or anywhere really), helping to boost buyer confidence and reduce the imagination gap.

The best way to understand this is to have a go, below is a REYDAR 3D viewer, check out the model first, and then tap the AR button to view it in your own environment:

This type of AR in retail brings a new level to brand experiences, expertly connecting in-store and online experiences. Online shopping experiences are brought a lot closer to physical ones using product viewers, as customers can interact with products in their own space.

Virtual try-ons

Virtual try-ons are probably the most well-known examples on this list, perhaps because they are the most common and are a staple on so many social media platforms. With virtual try-ons, customers can visualise how clothing, accessories, cosmetics, or other products would look on them without actually physically trying them on.

L’Oréal utilises this type of AR as part of its retail strategy. As a result, L’Oréal has been able to transform its consumer experience, offering virtual try-on, skin shade assessments and skin diagnosis.

A person using their mobile phone camera to view makeup through augmented reality.

Virtual try-ons unlock a wealth of benefits for retailers, customer confidence is key though, by eliminating the guesswork and giving customers a realistic preview, they can make more informed decisions. They also offer convenience and time-saving benefits to both retailers and their target by allowing a more simplistic and effective try-on process without the need for staff to help.

Virtual navigation

Time to check out some AR experiences in physical spaces. Virtual navigation is still a fairly new concept that allows customers to simplify their shopping experiences. The goal is to guide shoppers through brick-and-mortar retail environments and provide additional information about physical products.

Let’s take a look at an example from British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S). In 2022 M&S launched a wayfinding app named List&Go, as the name suggests shoppers could enter their shopping list then the app would guide them on a path around the store via their smartphone to grab their products.

Someone using a smartphone AR app to guide them through a supermarket.

The main goal of virtual navigation AR in retail is to allow shoppers to easily navigate even the largest shopping centres and stores to easily grab the items they require. Virtual navigation totally transforms the physical shopping experience we’re all so used to, providing a more immersive, interactive, and simplified shopping journey.

Augmented reality in retail: the stats

From significant sales boosts and higher customer engagement to improved customer satisfaction, these numbers paint a compelling picture of AR’s influence. Discover the impressive figures that demonstrate how AR is reshaping the future of retail and propelling businesses towards success:

1. The use of AR in retail leads to a 17% increase in consumer purchase intent.

Source: AMA

2. 61% of consumers said they prefer retailers that offer AR experiences.

Source: Silversea Media

3. 71% of shoppers said that they would shop more often if they used AR.

Source: eclipse

4. It is projected that by 2025, AR in retail will be worth $12 billion.

Source: Charged Retail 

5. 40% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it through augmented reality.

Source: eclipse

6. 58% of shoppers who have used augmented reality whilst shopping believed it improved their experience.

Source: Whiplash

7. 66% of consumers want physical stores to offer more AR experiences.

Source: Jasoren

8. 75% of the global population will become active AR users by 2025.

Source: Deloitte / Snap

9. Marketing campaigns which utilise AR elements have an average dwell time of 75 seconds.

Source: 99Firms

AR retail solutions from REYDAR

At REYDAR we are ideally placed both technically and creatively to help you create your augmented reality experiences. Contact us today to talk about our solutions and how we might be able to help.