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Hybrid experience is the new black

The opportunities of AR in retail environment

E-commerce has grown rapidly after the pandemic outbreak. This has forced brick and mortar to discover new ways to engage and enchant customers through different experiences, often combining both physical and digital dimensions. Once hybrid shopping is emerging rapidly, retailers are now investing in AR/VR solutions to serve their customers during the new normal. 

Emerging metaverses and the demand for virtuality

Pandemic has accelerated the rise of metaverses as especially young people are spending more time online. This has given rise to digital goods that are consumed only in the virtual environment. For example, the sales of gaming skins and loot boxes is predicted to hit 50 billion USD in 2022. This change in consumer behavior is expected to change the retailing industry as well.

Fashion industry has been in the forefront of the newest AR applications, such as digital clothing and accessories. The emphasis is on the experiences and creating a seamless hybrid experience. The trend may well pave the way for a more sustainable world as goods and services can be consumed online and updated virtually.

Hybrid customer experiences

In terms of physical stores, AR technology is used to create digital storefronts that complement the whole virtual shopping experience. Hybrid shopping is moving on at a fast pace and is quickly becoming a major differentiating factor within the business.  A study by Westfield indicated that 91% of the UK retailers are changing their store space, introducing more for experiences. AR was once a nice-to-have feature, and is now becoming a must-have for the retailers to stand out in the competition.

Hybrid shopping is moving on at a fast pace and is quickly becoming a major differentiating factor within the business. 

Entertaining shopping

There are already many applications on AR enhancing the shopping experience. The solutions vary from digital wardrobes to furniture previews. The technology enables us to explore and try out products in a safe, effortless and even playful manner. Typical and popular tools enable you to try out and play with different looks. Studies have shown that this type of interaction leads to higher engagement: according to a study conducted by Shopify, products that include AR content showed a staggering 94% higher conversion than traditional ones.

The technology enables us to explore and try out products in a safe, effortless and even playful manner. Typical and popular tools enable you to try out and play with different looks.

Consumption made sustainable

More importantly, AR can be an essential part of sustainable manufacturing and consumption. In the future, products can be tried and tested digitally and then manufactured based on actual demand. 

Go and explore this future scenario in Frenn Helsinki, Fredrikinkatu 24, Helsinki.

The installation has been concepted and executed by Piotar Boa and Loihde Factor.