Nearly three in four consumers (69%) now expect retailers to launch an augmented reality app within the next six months, according to new research by DigitalBridge.
Following the launch of iPhone 8 and iOS 11, and Apple’s new AR platform - ARKit - developers can now build high-quality AR experiences for iPhone and iPad users. And Google is also set to do the same for android developers with the launch of ARCore.
Apple’s first foray into augmented reality with its ARKit platform has helped the technology – which allows the user to overlay digital elements onto an image of the real world on a smartphone or tablet – to elevate AR into the mainstream after years of being developed in the shadows of Virtual Reality.
As such augmented reality has now become the most sought after technology by consumers, with 61% saying this is the technology they are most excited about using, compared to 30% who think virtual reality should take priority in the consumer market, with the remaining 9% believing that artificial intelligence tools, like chat bots, will be most beneficial.
A third (33%) of consumers would be more likely to make a purchase on the spot if they were given access to an augmented reality platform first, a significantly shorter time than the six months it currently takes the majority of people to decide on a purchase that is specifically for their bathrooms.
Having the option to preview a design for a new kitchen, bathroom or bedroom is clearly beneficial for customers, 49% of whom like the idea of being able to test more than one idea before making a decision, and 56% who think being able to get a better look at a product in a particular space first would be a major benefit when shopping – especially for large items like furniture.
CEO of DigitalBridge David Levine says: “Unlike virtual reality, which is about creating new environments, the big advantage of augmented reality is that it can show consumers what a product will look like in a real space, like a bed in their bedroom or a new cooker in the kitchen.”
“These are not small purchases to make and being able to test multiple options before spending any money would be a major benefit for consumers and an entirely new kind of shopping experience for retailers to offer.”
“Imagine starting to shop for a new bedroom or bathroom and a retailer could instantly show you 10 designs or products placed in your own home based on the things you’ve looked at in the past.”
The kitchen, bedroom and bathroom market is a prime example where the ‘imagination gap’ produces hurdles for retailers, with consumers more likely to walk away from these kinds of purchases if they aren’t entirely sure about them, or take much longer (as much as six months) to make a buying decision.
Home renovation is a significant market for the UK economy – estimated to be worth about £3 billion a year – while the kitchen furniture market alone is projected to be worth £1.83 billion by 2019 according to AMA Research.
But the ‘Imagination Gap’ is severely impacting the growth of this sector, with more than half of homeowners (51%) revealing that they have decided against a kitchen, bedroom or bathroom renovation project in the last year, because of this issue.
And with 35% of consumers planning to spend between £1,000 and £2,000 and one In ten (10%) budgeting more than £3,000 per project, there is potentially millions if not billions being lost from this lucrative market, just because people can’t imagine what products will look like at home.
Mr Levine continues: “As a business and commerce application, particularly when it comes to mobile commerce, augmented reality has much more potential than virtual reality as it’s easier and cheaper to implement and I think we’re going to see a new eco-system of AR enabled experiences in the coming weeks and months.”