Augmented Reality, or AR, is a technology whose potential is only beginning to be realized.
With Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore having been released in 2017, we expect this year will see the release of many interesting new AR-enabled apps.
We’re strong proponents of AR, and beyond the huge potential AR provides for gaming platforms, we also understand the opportunity it presents for business.
In this article, we’re looking at how can AR be used by businesses to move the needle.
AR Selling Strategy 1: Try Before You Buy
The first, and perhaps most obvious, strategy to leverage AR for sales is simple: try before you buy.
Shoe salesmen have known for eons — if you can get a customer to try a product on, you’re a lot more likely to get them to part with their hard-earned cash.
Software as a Service (SaaS) product owners know the same thing — hence why freemium pricing models and free trials abound in the SaaS world.
But other industries aren’t so lucky.
IKEA, for instance, can have the best showroom in the world, but it’s difficult to get a user to visualize what their new purchase will look like in their home.
Likewise, builders, landscapers, and other home improvement industries struggle with getting inexperienced customers to ‘see’ their vision and pull the trigger on what may be an expensive purchase.
AR might be changing that. IKEA is ushering in a service called IKEA Place, where you can ‘place’ furniture in your home to see what it looks like.
It’s easy to see how other industries would be equally interested.
For instance, we might soon see IKEA expanding their Place services so you can maintain a ‘digital home’ — effectively, a database of all your IKEA furniture. That could be leveraged by someone like a real estate agent, showing empty houses and letting prospects ‘place’ their own furniture in the space.
Or, what if you want to order a brand new Tesla but don’t live near a retail store? Drop a new Model 3 in your driveway and customize it to get the exact look you want.
It’s early days, but AR opens the door for all sorts of industries to help prospects visualize their new, post-purchase reality.
AR Selling Strategy 2: 3D Animation
The second strategy making significant inroads in the world of AR is animating previously-inanimate objects.
To get your head around just how valuable this can be, imagine the last time you had a minor computer problem. Maybe you were looking to install a new program or mount a virtual drive.
Whatever it was, odds are you Googled the answer and got either a video explaining how to do it OR an extremely screenshot-heavy help article.
Now imagine that you had to solve the same problem with nothing more than a crappy manual.
But this is the exact situation we place ourselves in every day when we assemble an ice cream maker or build a side table.
Which is where AR can help sellers and brands succeed.
For instance, let’s look back to our IKEA example. Imagine if it had an AR tool that actually assembled your table/chair/IKEA desk with you instead of a basic, text-free manual instruction.
But there are other, less-IKEA-y examples where AR could help:
- You could virtually browse a store for the product you want, so you can go straight to where it is when you get to the store.
- You could upload pictures of yourself and virtually overlay clothes you’re thinking about buying to see how they look on you.
- You could visualize how a new product or piece of equipment may fit into your existing business processes.
AR Selling Strategy 3: Training
The final AR selling strategy we’re going to mention is perhaps the most obvious — training.
Training more or less boils down to trying to recreate as close a representation of reality as possible without actually hoisting the trainee on an unsuspecting ‘real’ reality.
Some variations of AR already being considered are from training areas where the real thing simply isn’t possible. For instance, firefighters, paramedics, and doctors are training with AR and VR to perfect their skills prior to doing the actual job.
But it’s not just high-stakes roles that can benefit from augmented reality training regimes.
Imagine, for instance, if you could get recordings of hundreds of sales encounters and then compile them into an augmented reality training program. You could effectively put sales trainees through realistic sales scenarios without risking potentially blowing a valuable deal.
Or, if your business involves complex machinery or manufacturing processes, your staff or clients could use an AR training app in order to get comfortable with the machinery and technology before ever stepping foot into the real facility.
From a staffing standpoint, Google Glass has re-launched with an Enterprise edition that aims to offer businesses the hardware they need to solve these types of challenges with AR:
From a consumer standpoint, below example from Hyundai – a consumer AR app that guides you while you service your own car.
We might not be at the point where AR has widespread adoption, but we might not be that far off.
We think that early AR and VR adopters are going to be rewarded for the simple fact they’re creating better experiences for their staff and customers.
In the near future, we expect AR to move further into the mainstream. Whether that’s via apps and brands like IKEA Place, or a totally new hardware paradigm like Google Glass, we don’t know.
But here’s what we do know — however it manifests itself, we’re excited to see where it takes us.