We’re now living in an era powered by digital revolution that is changing the very landscape of customer experiences as we know it. As technology evolves, it is rapidly pushing the bar higher for more intuitive customer interactions and transcendent usability. With these revolutionary developments, achieving an experience that exceeds the customers’ expectations is becoming increasingly challenging. Coming to the aid of brands across industries, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are set to totally transform customer experience, replacing every pain point with fascinating, interactive experiences that both inform and entertain.
According to Forbes, the future of AR and VR seems to break down into two major use categories. On one hand, AR aids consumer applications to answer questions such as, “How will this look like in my home? How will it look like on me? Tell me more about how to use this merchandise.” VR, on the other hand aids business uses such as store design, shelf range and layout, as well as in appropriate store walks and real-time store performance, which allow executives to see store data in the context of how the store looks, rather than simply as a chart.
China’s largest e-retailer, Alibaba, allows consumers to walk the aisles of a virtual store with the help of VR. Using VR goggles or a smartphone app called Buy+, consumers can see an assortment of items, pick them up and even make a purchase with just a look. Buy+ was a runaway hit with 30,000 people using it in the first hour after its launch. The interactive element added by VR to the shopping experience has boosted the confidence of the customers in making an informed purchase and thus increasing the chances of further purchases.
French cosmetics company, NARS was the first beauty brand to create a 360-degree video to attract the attention of its makeup-savvy female audience. Customers could move around the video to see different steps in applying makeup. Instead of a static experience, customers could also witness the process from different angles to master the perfect look. The video also linked to multiple complimentary NARS products, so users can see a variety of shades virtually before they decide if it’s the right color for them.
American coffee company, Starbucks is leveraging augmented reality to blend the experiences of shopping in-store and online at its Starbucks reserve roastery, Shanghai. Visitors can point their smartphones at a piece of apparatus to see how coffee is processed in that machine to yield the product they’re considering.
Joining the VR bandwagon, Tencent who owns China’s most popular messaging service, WeChat, is all set to develop the VR version of the application. “I think it is high time that Tencent thinks about developing a VR version of WeChat,” said Tencent CEO Pony Ma at China’s 5th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen on Nov 7, 2018.
In the future, instead of typing, talking to friends and families via voice or video calls, people will be able to have a “face-to-face” conversation on a VR social media platform even if they are miles apart. With its already diverse functionalities, the application scenarios of a VR enabled WeChat are infinite.
Alongside these mind-blowing technologies, brands are also investing in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, the use cases making the most impact on customer experience combine some or all these technologies to create a more engaging encounter with the brand. With their ability for a more immersive, interactive and information-fueled experience, AR and VR holds promise to create differentiated brand experiences that drive conversions, repeat visits and higher revenue for brands in the digital era.
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