Augmented Reality for Retail

Learn how to enhance the retail shopping experience with Augmented Reality.

The mania around Pokemon GO may have subsided, but this phenomenon created a global appetite for augmented reality, one that has only grown in recent months. This game placed AR squarely into mainstream vernacular and taught consumers the ease of accessing this technology through their mobile devices. Over 33% of individuals are now using Augmented Reality while shopping [1], with this number on the verge of exploding with heavy hitters Apple and Google paving the way for greater consumer accessibility, and more efficient app development.

While it can be beneficial for manufacturing brands to incorporate AR into their retail packaging, retailers themselves are seeing AR’s potential to create meaningful interactions with their shoppers. In fact, retail is expected to spend over $1 billion USD worldwide on AR/VR solutions this year, and will become the top industry for AR/VR spending by 2020 [2]. To ensure retailers get the most value for their investment, it is key for them to work with an agency that has combined experience in both AR content creation and retail strategy.

Augmented Reality Solutions for Retail

Consumers have shifted to online shopping for most of their purchasing needs [3], however, a vast majority of consumers still prefer a brick and mortar retail environment to experience products first hand [4]. Augmented Reality is an innovative approach for retailers to continue driving foot traffic to their storefronts. In fact, 71% of people surveyed said they would shop at a retailer more often if they offered AR, and 61% of shoppers say that AR has influenced where they shop [1].


Augmented Reality gives retailers the ability to communicate key information to its customers, without the limitations of physical space. Through a quick scan of retailer signage, product displays, or even grocery carts, shoppers can be served with virtual coupons, special promotions, or featured products that pop up on their mobile devices. Deals are especially important to communicate to consumers, with 41% saying it’s the reason they use AR at retail [1].

Product reviews or tutorials can also be easily accessed directly within the AR framework, giving shoppers access to important product knowledge while standing within reach of a sales till.


Increasingly time-strapped consumers are always on the hunt for hassle free efficiency. Augmented Reality can create the time saving solutions consumers are searching for, with 45% of shoppers already saying they appreciate how AR helps them save time while shopping [1].

Through scanning one static image, shoppers can access all the information they need to help them make a quick purchase decision. In grocery retailers, for example, scanning a simple recipe poster can allow consumers to immediately identify the products they need to make the meal, what their prices are, or if they’re on sale. Consumers can control the AR experience to dig deeper into the information, choosing whether to view nutritional components, origin of ingredients, or whether the dish meets with personal dietary requirements.

Retailers who use membership or loyalty cards can offer better customer service by providing additional incentives through Augmented Reality. By simply scanning their cards with a smartphone, consumers can determine their point balances, membership exclusive promotions, or eligible rewards.


Online or in-store, more and more retailers are providing a personalized shopping experience to engage new and existing customers.  With Augmented Reality, retailers can provide more customized service through allowing consumers to virtually try before they physically buy. Fashion and cosmetic retailers, for example, can use AR to allow individuals to virtually trial clothing or cosmetics. Home furnishing retailers can use AR to let consumers test out virtual furniture within their living space before committing to the actual product.

This Augmented Reality personal shopping mechanism can have significant connotations. Imagine consumers walking into drug stores and scanning medication packaging to determine whether the product is safe for their particular use. Or, think of grocery retailers enabling consumers to scan their cart to ensure they are avoiding food allergies. AR can make all of this a reality.  

Crunching Data:

Aside from the consumer-facing operations that AR can improve, it can also provide benefits to the back-end. Augmented Reality allows retailers to capture important shopper information to mine insights and ultimately provide better service.

Augmented Reality also allows retailers to envision important aspects of their business that can help with inventory management, category strategies, or planograms. AR can even help businesses visualize window displays or in-store merchandising before plans are executed.


The Future of AR and Retail

With 61% of shoppers preferring to shop at stores that offer AR over ones that don’t [1], Augmented Reality in retail is the wave of the future.

As media boundaries continue to erode, retailers can expect social media components to intertwine with their augmented reality applications. By viewing the retail environment through a mobile device, consumers may be able to see how many Facebook likes a product has received, or which items their social media friends would recommend.

Consumers expect brands to meet them where they are already going. Although pushing traffic into stores may remain a top priority for retail giants, retailers can benefit by taking virtual stores to where consumers are located in the real world. Augmented Reality makes this a possibility, allowing retailers to increase awareness of their products, and converting interest into sales by popping up in unexpected spaces.

Which Augmented Reality solution do you think is most beneficial for retailers? Tweet us @stjoseph.

1. Retail Perceptions
2. IDC
3. Fortune
4. Retail Dive