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AR and VR technology was largely expedited by the past pandemic with at least 93.3 million and 58.9 million users respectively, according to a study conducted by eMarketer. This comes as no surprise since these immersive technologies have mitigated the massive disruptions in people’s lives.
Their accelerated adoption at both individual and business levels are represented in daily activities. For example, as remote work became an essential part of many business models, AR/VR allowed a seamless transition from onsite training to a clear visualization of step-by-step instructions for many workers across multiple industries and locations.
From social interactions in virtual reality video games to enhanced and personalized online shopping experiences, AR and VR have in many ways served as the lifeline for many companies to build resilience for the future and increase customer engagement. But exactly how has this billion-dollar industry affected how a brand interacts with its customers? Let’s take a look at various scenarios showcasing the highly-valued solutions these technologies have to offer.
Technology has heavily influenced the way consumers research, interact and ultimately decide to purchase products or services from businesses. With more information available at the palm of their hands, potential customers are more demanding when it comes to brand authenticity, with 88% of consumers stating that authenticity dictates the future relationship between themselves and brands they are most likely to support. This means that businesses need to find innovative ways to help consumers become aware of their value proposition and ultimately build a strong customer relationship.
AR/VR helps companies expand their reach and get valuable and sometimes defining messages across. For example, with sustainability driving many consumers’ purchase intent, large companies such as Chiquita leveraged AR and VR technologies to allow transparency and show their commitment to sustainability. By scanning the blue sticker on their Chiquita bananas, a shopper can virtually visit the tropics and follow the journey of a Chiquita banana in Latin American farms, all the way to their grocery store. This immersive experience highlights the sustainable product development journey and its eco-friendly supply chain, tipping the balance in the brand’s favor.
According to a study conducted by Alert Technologies, brands can convert 67% of consumers to buyers when they’ve reached trial rooms or spaces to consider the product or service a fit for their needs. It’s in this stage, that the consumer starts to heavily weigh their options before making their decision.
Brands can leverage virtual technologies to help remove any uncertainties and doubts in an engaging way, allowing a personalized approach to visualizing a potential fit. One example is Supra Boats with their AR app and web configurator, which allow the potential buyer to learn about a boat’s features at their own pace through a step-by-step tour in a stress-free environment. Here, they can also play with different colors and additional applications to customize their potential boat and ultimately order it right from the app.
The success behind the “try-on” experience lies within the ease of use and comfort offered to potential buyers who can personally try on items for themselves or for their personal spaces in their homes. And businesses can harness valuable consumer insights such as sizes and default preferences, enabling them to understand their customers better and deliver more accurate and informed strategic decisions in the future.
Taking the guesswork out of a potential fit of a product for a consumer’s needs is just one step to bringing them closer to completing a purchase. Ultimately, brands can seek ways to easily motivate these potential buyers to actually buy the product or service.
Many large brands have built-in AR technology in their apps to help make this process easier for their consumers, prompting a sale. Going back to Supra Boats, the app uses the phone’s camera to scan the area and then overlay it with the boat of the user’s choosing with all their customizable features, ensuring that it matches the user’s expectations.
However, the app goes beyond just showcasing customizable boats in your living room or backyard but also allows the users to go on a virtual product tour to help understand the use and maximize each one of the added features. This notoriously increases the brand’s value for the customers so that they feel free to make a purchase with far less hesitation.
As the retail market continues to become more competitive, consumers are more drawn to brands and businesses that offer greater value than just their initial purchase, leveraging superb customer support and service. As a matter of fact, according to Microsoft, 90% of Americans value customer service as a deciding factor in whether or not to do business with a brand, and around 58% of American consumers state that they would most likely switch companies due to poor customer support.
These numbers don’t lie and represent a huge opportunity for businesses to offer greater value at their post-purchase stage. AR and VR help provide practical and real-time support for customers, effectively addressing an issue at the touch of a button. A clear example of this is Nespresso’s Assistant, which can help fulfill a consumer’s coffee needs through instant ordering, answer frequently asked questions about the machine, and offer easy-to-follow instructions for descaling, for example.
The virtual technology’s immediacy to answer certain requests and provide in-depth information and instructions increases the customer’s engagement and satisfaction with the service provided by the brand. And this can most likely convert said buyer to being a recurrent customer.
Leveraging AR and VR allows businesses to expand and enhance their customer experience through the power of personalization. Actionable insights gathered throughout the customer journey offer the possibility of building strong and meaningful relationships with the target audience in ways that traditional or online marketing strategies may lack. In return, AR and VR serve as the lifeline for many businesses to remain competitive in their industries and build on resilience for any future events.
Jason LaBaw is the founder of Social Bee.
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