By Tuhin Bhatt

The advances in Augmented Reality have gone from incremental to disruptive, and judging by recent prototypes, it will not be long before customers at restaurants get better options for ordering their menu. HoloLamp, a French company unveiled a prototype that permitted users to have a‘glasses-free AR’ experience, to check out the contents and presentation of items on a menu. 

This development of AR in enriching the customer experience is not isolated to restaurants, but is being increasingly witnessed elsewhere. From footwear to corporate presentations, the use of holographic 3D presentations has found greater traction in the recent past.

HoloLamp creates a projected tangible interface on each restaurant tabletop, you can watch it in action:

Of the five stage in the consumer decision making process, need recognition and information search have often been the most challenging for businesses in a world of stifling competition. This is where Augmented Reality can make the difference by elevating the external stimulus that is centric to need recognition and information search.

Companies have begun to identify and understand the need for a more interactive method of showcasing products to customers in a manner hat is more experiential than existing methods. The opening example of a possible AR driven restaurant menu offers insights through comparison.

Augmented Reality Existing Options
Photo realistic details Text description limited to less than a line
Ability to view the food from all angles A generic image somewhere on the menu card
Ability to understand more about ingredients Inability to know about all ingredients
Permits customers to decide on portions after a detailed view Limited information about portions, leaving customers unaware of the exact serving size
Presentation details permit customers to request changes/customization Customers unable to place requests for changes/customization due to a lack of information

Augmented Reality has advanced to a level where users receive a truly empowering and engaging experience. In 2012 AbsolutTruths ran a promotional campaign with apps – users who scanned the AbsolutVodka bottles through the app were taken through a virtual tour of a Swedish village, with a demo of the Vodka manufacturing process. 

To make it more interesting the company threw in a free recipe for the users. This took the user experience to an altogether new level. Users received an experience that established a greater connect. Promotional campaigns such as these receive higher CTR in addition to higher engagement metrics.

View the Augmented Reality campaign of AbsolutVodka

In the sales funnel, the number of prospects are higher in the beginning, and narrows down to the stage where the purchase is successful. The reasons for the reduction down the funnel are manifold. However, there are three aspects that merit a deeper look.For instance, if the quality of the leads are higher, the conversion rates are better.

This effectively means that a prospect who has a greater need for the product will be easier to convert into a sale. Similarly, if a prospect is engaged in a better manner, the rate of conversion increases. And finally, an uninformed prospect who is informed with crystal clear clarity about the product(s) is more likely to quickly move into the category of a customer.

Augmented reality applications offers businesses the best options in getting the most out of the sales funnels. AR will help a business to reach out to quality leads with higher visibility, engage the prospects better with innovative user experiences and give in-depth information about the product. The combination of these three dimensions willfully unlock the potential of marketing. The possibilities are endless, it is actually linked to the ability of an augmented reality app development company and the concept of the business entity.

For instance, a buyer can use an augmented reality app to visualize the product in a real life environment. Furniture is typically purchased by looking at the dimensions, color, material and build quality. However, it is important to understand that minor changes in ambient lighting and intended position of the furniture will have an impact on creature comfort levels. With AR, users can now position the product virtually in real life environs and check if it fully matches the ambience. Doing this from the comfort of homes, or in a retail store is a lot more convenient than purchasing a product, only to realize that if did not meet expectations.

Stop guessing, IKEA’s AR app allows the user to directly insert furniture into a picture of the room:

Augmented reality permits users to tryout the product virtually before deciding on the purchase. Buyers are constantly on the lookout for differentiators among products and the next level of user experience is AR. A buyer who receives the option of actually checking out something, will find the experience and by extension, the product to be more suitable. Sales funnels extend throughout the whole process, continuing with loyalty and advocacy of the product/brand.

A customer who has earned loyalty points may wish to redeem the same. An app that offers the customers multiple choices, rather than a number, will certainly improve loyalty and take his advocacy of the brand higher. For instance, a user can scan a product with the app and receive updated information about the loyalty points that can be earned with the purchase, and the options for redeeming it. Or, the user can scan a product and receive confirmation if his/her loyalty points can be redeemed to get the product.

AR offers an immersive experience. This is the age of the millennials where the emphasis is more on the experience. Data suggests that choices are made with the experience being centric to the decision making process. Businesses are no more trying to sell a product, businesses are trying to sell experiences. And nothing can actually beat AR in giving prospects and buyers a preview of what is in store.

This influence will complement the standout features of the product to offer better choices to users. Differentiators are the drivers of sales in a competitive market, where multiple variants are available as choices to customers. AR will become one of the most powerful influences in shaping the buying decisions of customers in the future. Reality is better experienced when it is augmented.