Immersive technologies have drastically changed the way people perceives the world, by creating digital objects in the real world or by introducing them in a virtual environment in 3D, where the users can interact with the objects or have a walk among an environment they can see, hear and feel.
Virtual reality is an immersive experience that transports the users to a different place where you count with a 360-degree vision, where you provide a unique experience in 3D.
To understand how it works, we’ll give you an example: the user is watching a car race on TV, this is a two-dimension action, where the action is displayed through a screen, the television. With an immersive experience, the user is inside the car and actually disputing the race, being the main character.
To sum up, virtual reality takes us literally anywhere, in any moment. We can climb the Everest, scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef or visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris, all from our sofa at home.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, allows us to introduce virtual objects in the real world and interact with them. A well-known example is the game Pokémon Go, where the user had to “hunt” pokémons that kept appearing in the real world, and that he could see through the screen of his smartphone.
Do they work well together?
It could seem that both technologies can substitute each other, but their characteristics are considerable. With virtual reality, the environment interacts with the user, and with augmented reality the user interacts with the objects. This is why the natural tendency of this technology is a mixed model where the environment interacts with the user and the user, at the same time, interacts with the objects in this virtual environment.
A relevant indicator of the evolution of these immersive technologies and how they will impact our purchasing habits is the number of virtual reality glasses sold; it’s estimated that in 2020 the benefits will be of more than 35 million euros, a huge increase compared to the 4 million sold in 2016. We must consider that in this prevision we haven’t taken into account tablets and smartphones, which can also use this technology. It’s confirmed, then, that these technologies will be some of the most significant in the following years.
The future of retail
Focusing on augmented reality, it offers endless possibilities in the great consumption and pharmaceutical sectors. For example, from marketing’s point of view, augmented reality allows us to virtually introduce promotional material in the point of sales without actually taking it there, which results in a better go-to-market strategy and more effective promotions.
From the client’s perspective, augmented reality lets them interact with a product, like trying on a piece of clothing, and get to know more information on the product, like the ingredients of a product and its benefits.
In retail, this technology is perfect to design physical spaces, and we can visualize the objects on a natural scale so we can see how will the clients interact with our virtual objects. Stands and stoppers will appear in front of our eyes and we’ll be able to see if they are appropriate from the promotional point of view as well.
Moreover, this technology lets us implement different options of promotional material in real time, depending for example on the type of point of sales, the available space, the available material or the type of promotion, and this results in a better commercial process, as promotions can be validated in real time.
We can also use augmented reality to improve the retailer’s and the users’ experience, giving them more information in less time and speeding up their decision-making process. We can, for example, offer a QR code that can be read through an app that offers, at the same time, information on the product, instructions or video tutorials. The supplier can take advantage of this technology as well, as the consumer is more likely to purchase this product.
Augmented reality benefits
Its benefits are basically focused on engaging clients and fostering their loyalty towards a brand, as we immerse the customer in a reality built by us, where our value proposal is unique.
Being able to access information on the product and how it’s supposed to be used and being able to interact with it entails a paradigm shift; this technology implies a great number of benefits, such as a better return of investments, an increase in sales because of the improvement of the decision-making process of the client or a better profitability when executing a promotion.