The personal touch, that is so important in small business, is not out of sight when implementing this new technology; quite the opposite, you can tailor your messaging to the type of customer you’re targeting.
You may have noticed the new, fun and sometimes mind-blowing virtual and augmented reality popping up in entertainment, real-estate, gaming and tourism to name a few industries. There is huge potential for retail to embrace new technology too, for both small and large businesses, yet it has not widely penetrated into the Australian market.
The bigger players like Commonwealth Bank and IKEA have made an impression with virtual shopping and the virtual fitting room is already implemented overseas, but small and medium-sized businesses can also benefit from these new technologies and implement them at an affordable price.
A number of vendors offer these technologies on a licence or software-as-a-service basis, so that the huge cost of investment into an app are largely eliminated and focus is on the creative execution – which smart business owners with a little technical insight can do themselves, too.
To give a crash-course on the techniques out there: with Augmented Reality it is possible to add a layer of content to the real world when customers look at a product or flyer with their phone or tablet. With Virtual Reality special goggles like the Oculus Rift or just simple viewers made out of cardboard, lenses and a rubber band or tape – commonly known as ‘google cardboard’ – the viewer enters a digital world that looks as if it was real.
Virtual Reality can work well for brand activations or campaigns where the viewer can sit down and take the time to explore the virtual world, while Augmented Reality is usually better suited for retail as the experience is less intrusive and can be used on the go.
Another technology newcomer in the retail sphere is the use of beacons, which are tiny receptors placed in a physical space, sending and tracking information to a nearby shop visitor. It can be used to send a push notification about a sale item, track customer activity, engage with ‘hide & seek’ type searches through the store with prizes etc., and even help in planning the store visit for large retail stores to lead the customer through the product ranges he wishes to see via the smartphone app.
All this new technology is not just there to follow a trend; it is meant to engage the audience to love the brand on the one hand, and to track and analyse customer behaviour on the other hand if you are after more analysis of your customer’s behaviour.
The personal touch, that is so important in small business, is not out of sight when implementing this new technology; it’s quite the opposite, as you can tailor your messaging to the type of customer you’re targeting. As a bonus, while the technology is tested but still new, there is still the novelty around it attracting more attention.