Last year the game Pokémon GO suddenly exploded across the world and became the latest trend both adults and children needed to explore. The game combined a mix of real and virtual worlds by featuring real landmarks inside the game and using augmented reality (AR) to display characters on a live phone camera feed.
Gamers were enthused for a month or so, before moving on to the next big thing, but it struck me as remarkable. AR has been around for years, but nobody has ever made it work in a mainstream way – the most common alternative uses I can think of are tools like Google Sky, where pointing your phone at the sky allows the user to easily identify the stars and planets in front of the phone.
I do believe that AR is an area that retailers should start exploring more seriously. The global acceptance of Pokémon GO has shown that people don’t care about technological terms like AR – if a tool is useful (or fun), then they will use it. Think about some of the most critical customer experience challenges facing retailers today:
- An in-store customer might browse for an hour and none of that experience is ever captured or used by the retailer – it is lost forever
- Customers are starting to prefer the online experience over in-store because they are entirely anonymous in-store
- Capturing details of loyalty and rewarding it needs to move beyond the blunt instrument of a loyalty card
Now imagine this idea. You visit your favourite department store and on entering the store you open an app on your phone. You are probably already logged in and the app knows that you are in-store based on your location.
So now the app can start recording where you go, how long you stay there, are you lingering in particular areas of the store. You can use the app to scan barcodes for more information on products. The app knows your shopping history and can see what you are browsing so it can make recommendations. The app can create time-limited offers and discounts and these can appear in store using AR in just the same way as the characters in Pokémon GO.
The in-store experience could be dramatically improved with this approach and the retailer would have rich data on the customer that can be analysed to help refine future offers and recommendations.
Plus, it’s fun. Pokémon GO proved that the real and virtual world can seamlessly be blended. Imagine how much more fun it would be to see that jacket you have looked at three times suddenly come to life on your screen and say ‘pick me up right now and you can get 30% off the price you see in-store’…
This is just one idea, but I think it would be an interesting approach and draws together several of these retail challenges. What do you think? Leave a comment below or get in touch on LinkedIn and let me know.