Why use Augmented Reality for retail business?

Aug 1, 2018 | Augmented Reality

How AR works

We have spoken about this before, but just to recap: Augmented Reality is a technology that works to extend the limits reality, but without removing the person using it completely from reality, unlike Virtual Reality, for example.

With Augmented Reality you’re still experiencing the real world, but with an added layer of information.


A good example of this is Pokemon GO and Snapchat, which are both widely used. In both of these apps you experience the real world with something extra, such as filters or interactive pokemons or items.

Snapchat, for example hit 191 million Daily Active Users in the first quarter of 2018.

Why even consider AR for retail business?

Augmented Reality is not just for games or gimmicky selfies and videos we send to our friends, it can be used to make shopping on the internet more convenient and make customers more certain in their purchasing decisions.

And if we look at this graph, illustrating data from Statista, the market for Augmented and Virtual Reality is expected to soar.

And we can safely assume that the convenience and clarity made possible by VR and AR shopping experiences will at some point be expected from customers, as the phenomenon spreads and evolves.

The world is changing and retailers must adapt with it, in order to keep customer satisfaction high.

What are other businesses doing?

Augmented reality is already being used by companies to help their customers decide on which products they should buy.

IKEA is a good example on this, IKEA Place, as they’re using Augmented Reality to help customers get a more realistic sense of how IKEA’s furniture would look in their home.


Another example is Shiseido’s AR Makeup Mirror, where customers can try on makeup without applying it in real life. This is found in stores, however, it could possibly be a feature of a simply phone app, letting customers try on makeup from the comfort of their own homes before making an online purchase.


Also American Apparel has an app that is to be used in the store, where online retail merge with offline, giving customers easy access to more info about the products they’re looking at in the store, such as which other colors they come in and how they’ve been reviewed by other customers.

The future for retail contains AR

Who knows? Maybe we will truly see the same tech pop up in clothing stores, as seen in Minority Report with Tom Cruise.

When it comes to e-commerce, the one thing that usually stops us from buying one item, is quite often that we feel a need to see or experience the product up close.

Now, we might not be able to feel the texture of clothing or the fit of a shoe, yet, but augmented reality at least gives us easier access to seeing the clothing and accessories that we want on our own bodies and faces before making the purchase.

This could be the decision factor your customers need to make not just more purchases, but the right purchases for them. Happier customers Higher sales and less returns.

How much would an AR solution cost?

The short answer: It’s complicated.

Regardless of what AR project you want to start, there’s going to be people who need salaries paid, and no project is like the other. One app can cost $10.000 and another can go up to $100.000, some might even cost more. The price really depends on the complexity of the project.

Let’s take one of the examples from earlier. IKEA’s app IKEA Place has by thinkmobiles.com been estimated to cost around $57,500, plus ~$1,200 per each 3D model. And so if there are at least 100 3D models, then you can easily see how the end price would be around $177,500. This is, of course, just an estimation, but it gives us a more realistic understanding of prices for app development.

The hours it would take to build this varies on the amount of 3D models that need to be implemented, but as a minimum we should expect this type of app to take 500 hours of development and most likely a lot more.

An app like Snapchat, however, would probably take 1000+ hours to develop and cost at least $100,000. Both apps contain AR elements, but have very different functions and development needs.  

So what can you do to stay ahead of the game?


Think in Service Design

In order to stay ahead of the game you should be thinking in how you create a good experience for your customers. Whenever you want to improve your position on the market, you should be thinking in how you can create a better service for your customers.

Some companies and institutions implement new technology without really considering what it’s there for and how it improves their value proposition, thinking of digitalization, innovation and various types of technology as mere buzzwords, which sometimes mean that they waste thousands of dollars on digital solutions, that do absolutely nothing to create a better experience for their audiences. Therefore, it’s important, that you actually consider “How is this helping our customers?”

You shouldn’t just choose an AR solution, but the right AR solution.

Keep an open mind

It’s easy to write off new technology as “cheap gimmicks”, but that doesn’t make it true, and you could end up losing good positions on the market, because you do not utilize new tech where you can benefit from it.

Also, you may have a great idea, that would perhaps benefit you, but would create impediments for your customers, leaving them annoyed and dissatisfied, so keeping an open mind and accepting that you’ll need to kill a darling once in a while is very important.

Are you considering using Augmented Reality to enhance your business?

Give us a call or write a mail! We’d love to help create the right AR experience for your company!


No matter where you are in the world, VMA Nordic is ready to expand the reality of your business.

We are a creative VR and AR agency that develops innovative, user-friendly and immersive VR and AR experiences for our customers.

We love new challenges and motivated by setting new standards for what is possible in VR and AR.

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