AR will see major adoption in retail, according to ABI Research. However, it will not be in the way many foresee; AR will struggle among consumers in the brick and mortar space in particular. Rather, it will be driven by the workforce and online browsers around the world.

AR experiences can prove very useful for browsing customers unable to interact with new products they like to buy. “For consumers in brick and mortar stores, however, AR can disrupt the customer journey and provides little additional value overall,” said Nick Finill, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. Yet for the in-store employee, AR can deliver operational efficiencies and improve the quality of the service.

Like in other industrial sectors, retail will see a rise in the use of AR devices. Smart glasses from companies such as Vuzix are  starting to be utilised by retail employees with front and back-of-store work. ABI Research forecasts that by 2022 over 120,000 stores will be using AR smart glasses globally, with deployments evenly split across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. This will be headed by the requirement for great savings to compete with rival retailers and the online companies as well.

Additionally, ABI Research forecasts that, by 2020, 3% of e-commerce revenue will be generated because of augmented reality experiences. That brings in US$122 billion in revenue globally.  “The relative ease of integrating AR into existing m-commerce platforms and the impact this can have on the user experience will largely drive customer demand,” Finill said.

The benefits of utilising AR will be unable to overthrow the barriers that exist in physical retail, unfortunately, which is inherently less reliant on mobile devices.

According to ABI Research, the challenge for retailers and AR companies is now shifting the perception of AR from a gimmick into tech which can really engage customers online, as well as  improve the bottom line inside stores.

Tom Ffiske
Twitter: @TomFfiske
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