With the large number of stores closings across the U.S., it's easy to believe that brick-and-mortar stores are dwindling as online retail takes over. However, a closer look at shopping behavior of 46,000 consumers reveals that:
20 percent are online-only shoppers
7 percent are store-only shoppers
73 percent of shoppers use multiple channels
This clearly implies that it is no longer about the channel being used. The line between online and offline retail is blurry, as customers are willing to switch to different channels depending on their need and the experience they get.
The idea of "new retail" is to bring a new level of experience for customers by blending the digital and in-store retail experience. Several top retail players like Alibaba, Target, Walmart and Amazon are focusing on providing an integrated, seamless customer experience by leveraging new technology trends to stay ahead of the game.
One such technology that is widely used is augmented reality (AR).
The power of AR is such that it enables customers to gain an interactive experience of a real-world environment using computer-generated perpetual information. This offers the following benefits:
AR enhances the customer experience. Through AR, customers can try on products before buying them. By simply sitting at their home, they can try different variations of the products, e.g., sizes and colors. Once they are satisfied with their selection, the exact item is delivered to their doorstep. It basically offers the convenience of online shopping with the experience of physically interacting with the product.
It reduces the need for in-store staff. Retail shops can use AR to cater to customers' needs to try out different products without in-store assistance.
AR reduces in-store inventory. With the use of AR apps, retail stores can reduce in-store inventory, thus minimizing costs for shipping and storing a large inventory.