What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) enables digital content to be superimposed over a real-world environment - unlike virtual reality, which is fully digital and requires expensive devices to access.
In practice, all internet users need to access this technology is their smartphone (with a working camera). This means that 6.6 billion people can enjoy augmented reality, making it the most accessible extended reality technology out there today (Statista).
AR has grown in popularity in recent years, with Pokemon Go still the most famous example. However, this game came out back in 2016, and it still feels like this innovation is not quite as widespread in business as it should be by now.
This is particularly so given how useful and versatile it is. Today, companies are taking advantage of augmented reality in logistics, training, as well as games. It’s also common in marketing, and enables companies to provide customers with a unique consumer experience.
And while high costs meant that it was the preserve of big tech companies just a few years ago, it is today much less expensive - making it a viable option for smaller businesses.
What’s more, AR allows smaller companies to stand out from the crowd and stay competitive at a time of market saturation and heightened customer expectations.
Benefits of Augmented Reality for Small Businesses
For small businesses, augmented reality can be as simple as taking advantage of the many AR apps that are now available.
The number of uses for augmented reality is almost endless; and, given its many benefits, it’s no wonder that many businesses are taking note:
Augmented reality has shown time and time again that it can boost sales, particularly at a time post-COVID when people are shopping more online than in the digital world.
Crucially, AR is exciting and is still fairly novel, meaning that companies can provide consumers with a unique shopping experience that also enhances their brand.
Since it offers customers a way to try before they buy, it’s a popular strategy for retail companies. This explains why, outside of gaming and entertainment, retail has been one of the earliest adopters of this technology.
Smart mirrors allow consumers to see what clothes and beauty products would look like on them, while other AR apps enable them to visualize whether specific pieces of furniture or paint would suit their homes. The list goes on, but this gives you some idea of its potential.
At its heart, marketing is about giving consumers exciting experiences that will increase the likelihood that they will become loyal supporters of your business.
Given this, AR technology is just the ticket since it allows you to market to consumers in unique ways - without them having to fork out money for new technology, or even having to leave their homes.
Companies can hyper-personalize messages, encourage interesting conversations and create engaging content that will build a social media following. And by using AR to improve the customer experience, companies will improve their reputation and increase customer retention.
AR is revolutionizing employee training - particularly in medicine, since it enables an immersive and interactive experience. Instead of new employees reading manuals and safety protocols, AR can provide them with a stimulating hands-on experience, without having to worry about costly real-world mistakes.
AR enables companies to design training programs that allow new employees to walk through real world scenarios, and this can be done either in-house or remotely - great at a time when people are working from home more than ever before.
It can also overlay instructions, helping workers to complete a complicated task.
This all makes training faster, better and easier, it reduces risks, enhances effectiveness and improves employee retention - enabling smaller companies to better compete with larger competitors.
Augmented reality enables designers to test and modify products in a virtual setting through the use of 3D modeling, and is already widespread in the housing and automobile industries.
This is a far safer way to manufacture products, as it gives designers an accuracy to product form and function that was simply impossible ten years ago.
As a result, AR significantly drives down production costs and testing expenses - enabling your company to make better investment decisions.
Augmented reality solutions offer an effective way of improving customer support.
The “try before you buy” feature of AR helps reduce the number of product returns, reducing the burden on this department.
Those that do have issues can use AR-enabled manuals to set up their purchase, and to get to know its features. This means that even inexperienced people can follow step-by-step instructions to identify and fix problems - further reducing the number of customers that need support.
And, if they do need to contact an agent, customers can use AR technology to quickly pass accurate information to agents who can then pinpoint the problem in seconds, speeding up resolution.
Start Future-Proofing Your Work Today
Augmented Reality may still appear otherworldly for the moment, but it is becoming ever more popular and will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role in our lives as we move forward.
And with the right planning, even small businesses can use augmented reality to solve problems, improve processes and drive revenue.
As such, integrating this technology into company systems and processes is a good way to future-proof how you work.
And if you’re looking for further ideas for how to develop your marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to download our free guide.