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Augmented Reality To Enhance Customer Experience: The Try-Before-You-Buy Experience

Kate William

31 October 2022

8 min read

Social distancing has become the new norm since the onset of pandemic Covid-19. As a result, physical shopping has come to a halt, and customers have shifted to e-commerce platform to satiate their needs. Therefore, e-commerce players who could enhance customer experience with a technological tool like AR have successfully paved their way to the door of their prospective buyers.

But what is this AR?

From the point of view of buyers:

AR or augmented reality is how the buyers can visualize the product in context to their surrounding environment. AR allows the buyers to have a virtual experience of owning and using the product much before making the actual purchase.

From the point of view of sellers:

Augmented reality is a novel way of engaging with customers by providing a customized product experience in 3D. AR provides a contactless user interface to prospective buyers of the product, delivering them a real-time interaction. It takes place between the real and virtual worlds through accurate 3D virtual and real objects.

By definition:

“Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory.” -Wikipedia.

“I think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.”

-Tim Cook

How does augmented reality improve customer experience?

Augmented reality (AR) has redefined the way customer interaction takes place. Today, AR sellers can provide a better and more engaging customer experience. The product and services are more enhanced and reality defined. This section will educate you on how augmented reality can enhance customer experience at every step of the interaction.

Using AR in the latest mobile technology allows the customers to experience a whole new interactive world of products and services. This digital experience transforms the overall customer relationship. Augmented reality provides an opportunity to enhance customer experience at the point of pre-sales, sales and post-sales.

1. Use of AR in Pre-sale to enhance customer experience:

Pre-sale is the phase when the prospect is yet to become your customer. This phase is of utmost significance to the sellers, as this is when a prospect converts into a customer. So we will guide you through multiple means by which AR can enhance customer experience over here.

(a) AR helps the prospects to ease their decision making regarding product or service:

Suppose you want to purchase a piece of furniture but are not sure how it will fit your interiors. Using AR, the seller can free your mind of this confusion and provide you with a virtual makeover of your interiors. In this way, the prospective buyer can visualize the future existence of the furniture in his room much before he makes the actual purchase. And all this magic takes place on the small screen of your smartphone. Example: Wayfair 3D room app

(b) AR guides the shoppers to identify the trend

We all know how significant is peer pressure in determining the final purchase decision. Application of AR can help the prospect identify the trends in the market by actually watching the number of likes getting updated every moment of each product present in the showroom. Example: Brazilian fashion brand C&A displays its apparel on augmented reality enabled hangers. These hangers thus display the likes collected through social media sites for their product.

(c) Interactive packaging technology

Using augmented reality on the product packaging enhances customer experience and also strengthens customer relationships. Using AR can either show the means of using the product in multiple ways or provide more in-depth information related to the product. For example, the packaging of Heinz ketchup. The pack uses AR to give the buyer numerous recipes where the Heinz product is usable. This interactive recipe demonstration does enhance the customer experience.

2. Use of AR in sale or point of purchase to improve customer satisfaction:

Point of purchase is when the shoppers make a check out by making the payment for the purchased product. It takes place both online and offline. There are moments when even during this POP, the buyers abandon their cart product and discontinue or shift their shopping. To avoid such unwanted experience, sellers use AR to keep their buyers entirely focussed and engaged in processing their purchase. Here are few ways and examples to clarify the same.

(a) AR offers the try before you buy customer experience

The try before you buy experience as offered by augmented reality technology is doing wonders for the beauty industry. Every woman who loves makeup also loves to try the opportunity of experiencing its application before making the final purchase. For example, the Sephora Virtual Artist AR app allows its consumers to virtually “try on” their makeup choice.

(b) AR offers the virtual dressing rooms

Make use of AR apps to make shopping for apparel easier. AR frees the buyer’s mind from any confusion regarding the look and attire of the clothing on him. For example, GAP’s virtual dressing room app allows its buyers to choose a dress of their choice and filter the size and body type. After that, a 3D figurine will come in front dressed in the apparel of your choice to give a look-alike experience.

(c) AR offers an interactive retail experience

To keep the prospective buyers thoroughly engaged during the point of purchase, sellers use interactive AR technology. Through this technology, the buyers present in the retail outlet can dive deeper into the seller’s world of product and ambience. For example, Starbucks flagship Roastery, Shanghai, lets its visitors use their smartphone to unlock visuals and information about store products. It also allows them to acknowledge themselves with the roasting process.

3. Use of AR in post-sale to elevate customer relationships

Post-sale customer relationship is essential to improve customer relationships, earn customer loyalty and ensure future purchase. Using augmented reality during this phase adds wonders to the customer experience as offered by the brand.

(a) AR self-service support

Consumers prefer minimal interaction with the customer support team post the purchase of the product. They like self-service support. And AR can make this easier. With the simple use of the smartphone, one can have access to the product FAQs and manuals. AR-based self-service support widely applies across multiple smart home applications.

(b) AR technical support

AR-based visual support eliminates the long duration technical support calls between the customer and agent. It is beneficial for both the agents and customers. On having a technical issue, the buyer can contact the technical team and explain the problem by simply holding the smartphone. This enables the agents to access all the product details and immediately provide a solution.

(c) AR user manuals

Say goodbye to the days when the purchase of electronics or white goods or vehicles brought along the book of the user manual. No one wants to waste time flipping the pages of 5 font size text. Use AR-enabled manuals, which provide a more personalized feel to the buyers.

Augmented reality statistics that redefine the online retail business

(a) 71 percent of the consumers shop more when they can have an AR experience for the product

Augmented reality provides a fresh look and virtual feel to the consumers for the products and services. This, in a way, upgrades the buyer’s confidence in making buying decisions and improves customer experience and customer satisfaction.

(b) 61 per cent of the shoppers prefer the retailers who provide AR experience

A consumer gets more inclined to make a particular purchase when he is confident about the product. This confidence gets more strong when sellers enable them with augmented reality technology. AR allows the consumers to have a virtual preview of the product in their real surrounding. Thus, leading to minimized returns and minimal wasted logistics costs.

(c) 5% of AR use will be in retail by 2022.

AR is redefining the way the buyers and sellers will behave in the future retail market. This means there will be significant use of augmented reality by the retailers to direct consumer traffic and conclude sales.

(d) 40% of consumers are ready to pay an extra price for AR configured and customizable products

AR compensates for the touch-and-feel experience offline shopping offers to customers. It elevates the shopping experience one step further by providing the actual feel of the virtual product in their personal space.

(e) 100M consumers made use of AR to shop in 2020.

2021 was the year when the fear of pandemic forced people to refrain from physical shopping. As a result, more and number of people shifted to AR driven online shopping. And today, the scenario is such that people refrain from shifting their AR experience.

(f) 32% of consumers use augmented reality while shopping.

The year 2020 saw a remarkable use of AR by 32% of consumers while shopping. AR thus presents a unique opportunity to enhance customer experience and focus on the consumers at multiple selling points of the product.

(g) 83.1M of US consumers used AR monthly in 2020.

2020 recorded that 83.1 million consumers in the US used AR monthly. This makes AR a significant tactic to use across all points of marketing and sale product engagement.

(h) 17% of US consumers will make use of AR monthly by 2022.

The use and acceptance of augmented reality is growing every month. We perceive AR as an exciting way to enhance customer experience and strengthen customer relationships. Since more and more companies are making use of this statistical information to upgrade their retail, the percentage will hike beyond 17 per cent soon.

(i) 70% of consumers belonging to the age group of 16 to 44 years old are aware of AR

AR has soon made its way into the heart, mind and personal space of prospective buyers. People belonging to the age group of 16 to 44 years are aware of the applications and benefits of AR.

(j) AR improves the conversion rate by 40%

As discussed above, AR does enhance the customer experience to a great extent at each point of contact. Therefore, it improves the overall conversion rate of prospects into buyers by 40 percent.

“AR is going to become ubiquitous to the point of becoming an integrated expectation of the buying experience. Brands that want to connect with customers today and tomorrow need to move now on AR.”

Ben Houston – Founder, Threekit

The 3 prime benefits of augmented reality to customers

1. Contactless shopping:

Considering the pandemic situation which currently prevails, this benefit is of utmost significance. Retailers, who have inculcated the AR trends, allow their consumers to try their products before making the final purchase virtually. Here is an example from the world-famous fashion brand Gucci. Gucci partnered with Snapchat to allow their consumers to try on the sneakers virtually before buying them.

2. Immersive experiences that enhance product utility:

AR integrated brands make their prospects dive deep into their world. It strengthens the immersive experience offered by brands. In the words of Dobrian Dobrev, UX architect for Coca-Cola’s IT marketing team, “This technology is here to stay, and we need to adapt accordingly in order to remain relevant and be efficient, creative problem solvers.”

3. Unprecedented personalization:

Every consumer gets excited when the brand extends the level of personalization offered to him. AR makes this possible in a much more convenient and impactful way. Here is an example from Disney. The brand allows the kids to color and visualizes their colored images in 3D form with the help of augmented reality.

Augmented reality at the point of field service, contact centres and self-service

Google forecasting quotes that augmented reality will touch the mark of $80 billion markets by 2025. This, therefore, emphasizes the massive role played by technology to enhance customer experience.

70 percent of the consumers have clearly defined their benefits from using AR in their routine life and shopping. Therefore, AR helps the consumers meet their demand with augmented excellence, especially at the point of field service, contact centres, and self-service.

AR, therefore, enables the field service experts to provide remote customer help by the simple use of a smartphone. This also compensates for any technical errors, improves the training sessions and increases first-time resolutions.

At the point of contact centres, augmented reality empowers the agents to have visual interaction with customers. This lead to increased efficiency, reduced drain of resources and enhanced customer experiences through personalized visual guidance.

Augmented reality enabled self-service allows the customers to use their smartphone to access their product’s knowledge, FAQs and manuals. It encourages customers to resolve their problems themselves. This, in a way, improves self-service efficiency, reduces the contact center volume and the cost of technician visits.

Wrapping up…

Today consumer behaviour has changed drastically. Consumers and retailers have realized the significance of augmented reality. Considering the level of improvement that comes in with augmented reality, the retailers have imbibed AR at multiple points of purchase. The worldwide retail market has experienced a decade of new experience within few months.

Because of the pandemic fear, people are reluctant to touch and experience the product personally; instead, they prefer a more in-depth AR approach. As a result, physical stores and outlets had a hard hit, whereas the e-commerce industry experienced a sudden spike. Courtesy, the AR-enabled technical drift. So brands that are shying away from AR are the ones to lose their customers to the AR field competitors. Beware! Consumers have elevated their shopping standards.

So is your organization ready to embrace AR success? Are you prepared with your share of research and analysis to support the AR drive? If not, you need to click Survey Sparrow. And we will provide you with all that your firm requires to enhance customer experience.


Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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