Imagine never having to go into an automobile dealership. Instead, shoppers can choose to view a car in 3D in their bedroom. Or out in the backyard. Using just a phone or a tablet, the car appears before the user’s eyes. Walk around the vehicle. Look inside.
This isn’t a futuristic scenario, it’s the power of augmented reality. Cars can appear anywhere using an augmented reality showroom app or experience.
What is an Augmented Reality Showroom?
Augmented reality showrooms aren’t just for automobiles. There are numerous examples of these unique experiences, and they can enhance the user experience by helping to simplify shopping decisions. So how do they work?
Augmented reality combines the real world environment with overlays of graphics. An example of this would be a GPS system in a car that shows the street view but places graphic arrows to show drivers where to turn. Augmented reality is different from virtual reality and it doesn’t necessarily require any special glasses or headsets to experience.
With augmented reality showrooms or try-on experiences, users can preview products like makeup, paint colors, glasses or even vehicles! With ‘try on’ experiences for products like makeup, users will have to allow an app or website access to their device camera (this can be on a phone or a tablet). The photo or image of the individual is then projected with the graphic depiction of the makeup or product of their choice. So lipstick colors will magically appear on the lips, hair color on the hair, etc.
Warby-Parker even created an augmented reality experience for shoppers to try on their frames so they can find the best shape for their face. Augmented reality is a great way to try a product before purchase, and for stores it might also help to lessen returns!
But augmented reality isn’t just used for makeup or even eyeglasses. Experiences even let users swipe paint hues on their walls (without actually painting them!) and drop furniture into a room. Some augmented reality experiences even let users try out new haircuts, too!
While many companies offer ‘try-on’ experiences via augmented reality, some of these experiences could aptly be considered showrooms. When shoppers think about showrooms, they really think of a big open space in the store with all the products featured. But with technology, users and shoppers need to broaden their view of this definition.
During the pandemic, most shoppers had to hunt for products online from home. They couldn’t visit store showrooms. Maybe the home, the bedroom, the backyard had to be the showroom. Apps or experiences that allow users to drop furniture or even a car into a room can transform the home and the user’s space into a showroom.
Technology has really transformed the shopping experience, but how does this digital transformation impact consumers?
Augmented Reality Showroom Apps and Experiences: The Power is In the Hands of the Consumer
Augmented reality showroom apps and experiences likely became more abundant during the pandemic, and consumers seemingly have embraced these high-tech experiences. Harvard Business Review reported that “…e-commerce company Shopify recently released new data that interactions with products having AR content showed a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR.”
Harvard Business Review’s article focused on how augmented reality made an impact on shopping during Covid. However, the convenience of augmented reality and the power it gives the consumer also might drive its popularity.
Augmented reality showrooms allow customers to take their time and try out different products. In the case of Ulta’s GLAMlab, shoppers can try on a vast array of products. GLAMlab is accessible via the Ulta app. Users can then use their device camera to show their image (think of the camera like a mirror) and then select from different products. The lipstick options are seemingly endless, and users could easily spend an hour trying on different combos of products. The user’s image from the camera can display false eyelashes, lipstick, blush, eyeliner and probably more products at once!
Other stores offer the same type of experience, though. Stores like Ikea let users drop furniture into a room. Sherwin-Williams lets users try different paint hues. Users could literally try out an endless amount of paint hues on their walls just for fun!
For consumers, while these experiences can be entertaining (especially when everyone is stuck inside), they also are incredibly helpful. Before augmented reality showroom apps and experiences, shoppers had to guess what product would flatter them…or look good in a room. Now, some clothing companies even offer virtual try-on experiences so shoppers can preview different looks!
Who Wants to Preview a Car in the Living Room?
Augmented reality showroom apps or experiences can even include vehicles. Different manufacturers have created augmented reality experiences that let users drop a specific vehicle model into any space. But why would a consumer want to see a car in their home? Or on the bed?
Augmented reality automobiles are replica models of the real vehicle. So these digital models can give consumers more details about the car than a two-dimensional photo. Using the camera on the phone (or tablet), the user shows the space where they would like the car to appear. Then the car appears before their eyes. However, this isn’t just a fun graphic. The user can walk around the car or maybe even look inside.
The augmented reality showroom app or experience for automobiles allows customers to have an experience that is somewhat similar to what they would have in a car showroom. While the consumer can’t touch or physically interact with the augmented reality vehicle, they can explore it visually.
Augmented reality gives consumers a bit more freedom to preview cars at their own leisure. And from anywhere. Plus, the augmented reality experience is fun! Seeing the car appear and then exploring a 3D model just seems almost surreal…and, well, a bit futuristic.
The Future is Today…and Beyond
Augmented reality showrooms can be found within a company or a brand’s app, online or maybe even via their own unique app. Consumers who are interested in exploring all the augmented reality shopping possibilities just need to do a quick search via their app shop to find out what’s available. Or visit the website of a favorite store (there could be an augmented reality experience!).
Snapchat also could become an augmented reality hub for retailers. The Verge recently reported that Snap recently purchased Vertebrae. And what is Vertebrae’s expertise? The company creates virtual try-on experiences as well as other augmented reality and 3D commerce experiences for companies.
What consumers see now might only be the beginning of augmented reality shopping experiences. In the future, the options could be extensive. Imagine if all stores included some type of augmented reality experience. Maybe in the future technology allows us to depict a to-scale model representation of our entire body and then try on clothes via an augmented reality experience. Maybe a device could take measurements and predict size, too!
While none of this is in the works (at least not that anyone has announced!), the potential of augmented reality could further simplify the shopping experience. Even auto manufacturers might one day decide to launch augmented reality showrooms that let shoppers choose any model, customize it and then preview the vehicle in their own environment. Perhaps dealerships include these augmented reality showrooms, too.
Do Consumers Need to Invest in Augmented Reality?
While augmented reality glasses are on the market, they are expensive and might be geared more for enterprise use than for the average consumer. However, there are always whispers about the consumer augmented reality glasses. The question is what company will launch them first?
While Facebook announced a partnership for new glasses with Ray-Ban, these glasses are not going to include augmented reality. What they will feature is still up in the air, though. While a teaser video was released, no one knows what the glasses will look like or anything about their capabilities. Maybe there will be color choices? Maybe they will look like Wayfarers? Really, the details are a big question mark!
If augmented reality glasses for consumers eventually launch and become mainstream, perhaps more augmented reality experiences would link and sync up to them. What if we put on augmented reality glasses and enter a shopping mall experience that appears before our eyes. Maybe we could use our fingers to navigate store icons in front of us. Then start shopping and use augmented reality to try on items, too!
Maybe augmented reality is side-swiped by virtual reality. Perhaps virtual reality showrooms become another type of option for consumers. Could we all have an avatar that features our exact measurements and serves as our personal virtual model for clothes, makeup and more?
For now, maybe consumers simply need to wait and see what happens with those augmented reality glasses to find out if augmented reality becomes reality through new lenses.