Why should Businesses consider voiced assistants and augmented reality in 2019?

Over the years, retail has had many faces. From Sears and Roebuck catalogues to big box stores, retail has been consistently changing over the course of recent history.

The advent of the internet brought with it the option to shop online, a choice that many consumers have preferred in most recent memory. However, the game is changing once again.

In 2010, the first augmented reality retail experience hit virtual shelves. The luxury jewelry company Boucheron allowed its customers to print a paper cutout of their rings, place them on their finger and take a picture using their phone’s camera. Consumers were then able to see how Boucheron’s rings would look on their fingers, needless to say augmented reality has come a long way since then. Clothing retailers such as the Gap have implemented augmented reality mirrors in some of their retail locations, allowing customers to virtually try on clothing items in-store without taking anything off of the shelf. It will not be long until this technology is widely available.

With the increasing demand on online retail giants such as Amazon to streamline their process to make online shopping even quicker and even more convenient, the ability to browse and order items using a virtual assistant such as Alexa has come into the spotlight. It has been estimated that by the year 2020, purchases made through a virtual assistant will approach $41 billion in market share. With over 70 million active users of in-home voiced assistants, and another 500 million globally with access to Apple’s Siri, the possibilities are just beginning to take shape. The market for voiced assistants is growing and it is impossible to comment on the eventual possibilities and the extent of this widespread adoption of this type of technology, however, it is growing rapidly.

One can posit that in the near future, a good deal of online shopping will be conducted hands free with the combination of things such as voiced assistant programs and augmented reality devices such as Google Glass and Focals by North. A hands-free holographic display will eventually allow consumers to peruse and purchase goods without ever leaving their seats, and by using voice-based commands, consumers will be able to purchase goods from anywhere at any time. Imagine finding yourself in need of an outfit for a last-minute event. You could try on clothes in the morning in front of your smart mirror and have them delivered to your work before the day is out to be presentable for the evening. The same could be said for new car shopping, you could one day walk into a showroom and sit in a virtual booth that would allow you to customize your car without having to sit in a floor model and look through sample books.

IKEA Augmented Reality Shopping
IKEA Augmented Reality Shopping

The market is shifting in a particular direction and it is important for businesses to adopt this new technology earlier rather than later. By becoming one of the first businesses in your area to provide your customers with an augmented reality experience, they will remember your business as being forward-thinking and innovative. By giving your customers a unique and memorable experience, they will be more likely to call on your business first. The furniture giant IKEA has thrown their hat into this ring through their application, Place. Place allows IKEA customers to capture images of their living space using their phone’s camera and see exactly how a piece of furniture will look. Place scales up to 98% of actual size, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase what you see is what you get.

By integrating this new technology into your existing business, you can provide your customers with peace of mind and satisfaction in knowing they’ve made the right choice. For example, if you own a roofing/siding business, your customers could take photos of their house and see in real-time how material and colour combinations would look on their home. The likelihood that they would order services on the spot is increased as well as the likelihood of them referring your business to their friends and co-workers. The cosmetics company Sephora employs an augmented reality program that allows their customers to see how their products will look on them so they make the correct choice the first time, leading to vastly increased customer satisfaction.

By resisting change, your business may falter. The Eastman Kodak company was a pioneer in the camera and film industry and quickly became the world’s leading supplier of film. However, when the time came to innovate they resisted and were beaten to the digital market by Sony, and were quickly surpassed by Nikon and Canon, even though Kodak had digital camera technology predating the competition. When markets change, businesses need to innovate or risk potential failure.

The voiced assistant/augmented reality market is not limited purely to retail, it is time to get creative with your business and usher in a new age of success in this ever-changing market.