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The coronavirus pandemic has stimulated technological developments and expedited the shift to online shopping. While shopping in person has its merits, the pandemic has infused greater risk into the process since the virus is easily spread. According to IBM, the pandemic has sped up the shift to online retailing by up to five years.

AR (augmented reality) is one of the pillars upon which many retailers have attempted to approximate the benefits of live shopping. One of the follies with online shopping is it doesn’t inspire as much confidence as live shopping (e.g., you can’t test a product online). AR has begun to close this gap between the two shopping media. Here’s what AR is and how it’s keeping businesses afloat.

What is Augmented Reality?

AR refers to any application or tool that overlays our experience of reality with some digital information. The information either enhances or alters our experience of our physical environment.

For instance, if you’ve used Instagram or Snapchat’s camera, you’ve noticed multiple filters that change your appearance, add things to the environment, etc. All of these are AR filters. Another popular example is Pokémon GO. The game alters the environment by superimposing Pokémon onto the environment and even turning shops into gyms.

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COVID-19 and the Retail Industry

The precise mechanism through which AR helps varies between industries. For instance, furniture and beauty retailers don’t leverage AR in the same way. Generally speaking, however, AR is helping all industries by maintaining social distancing norms and other SOPs.

Beauty retailers, like Sephora and L’Oréal, have strictly stopped customers from trying makeup products on their face. Instead, both have leveraged AR applications to maintain their quality customer experience while also maintain hygiene. Sephora’s Virtual Artist and L’Oréal’s ModiFace apps overlay peoples’ faces with different makeup products. Customers can, as a result, test how makeup products look on them from the comfort of their own bed.

Furniture retailers, like IKEA, have permanently shifted to AR applications to improve customer experience. The IKEA Place app superimposes different pieces of furniture into one’s room. Additionally, people can alter the furniture’s design and orientation to see how it fits in their room.

If you’re a retailer struggling to shift to e-commerce during the pandemic, get in touch with us at Elementals Studio. We provide augmented reality filters, augmented reality application development and 3D product configuration services for e-Commerce businesses.

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