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June 2, 2021

Be our guest: Exploring the future of retail in the post-Covid world

The impact of COVID-19 on the retail industry has accelerated changes already underway in the sector. Consumer behaviour is driving a digital shift. But omnichannel environments manage to seamlessly unite brick-and-mortar locations with E-Commerce platforms. 3D service providers, such as Matterport, enable retailers to bring their physical location online to unlock further business growth. But especially in retail, tagging products can quickly become work intense and tedious. ViewAR’s positional OCR can record hundreds of tags in no time and make them available in your 3D scanned location. Scan the article numbers with the App and the location and product information are automatically linked!

The COVID-19 pandemic presented businesses with tremendous obstacles all over the world that have never been seen before. Consequently, especially retail companies had to reinvent and digitize everything from the overall customer experiences to logistics and warehouse management. As safety restrictions ease and vaccination rates rise continuously, we all expect a return to “normal”. But what is the new normal? What shifts back to physical? And which role plays Augmented Reality in retail?

As AR solutions keep evolving, possibilities for transforming the customer experience in retail are endless. Retailers can do more than creating a beautiful scan that their beautiful products are presented in. They can quickly capture 3D virtual tours of in-store inventory, product selection, navigation and wayfinding. This enables retailers and 3D photographers to create a consistent brand experience across locations and gives visitors high-quality access to their products in a safe way.  

By using visual recognition in combination with Optical Character Recognition (OCR), users can place Mattertags with correct coordinates and correct product information. E.g. scan article “No.1234” of a chair that is placed on the first floor, third aisle on the left, second position. This way, you can easily record hundreds of Articles and quickly create a virtual shop. Recording hundreds of Point-of-Interest within the digital twin of your retail environment has never been so easy.  

KARE Positional OCR: Record hundreds of POI’s easy & fast!

Online E-Commerce: a whole new world

Firstly, it can be expected that there will be somewhat of an overcompensation toward offline shopping. Some news sources are even calling it “revenge shopping” (Forbes; In a Post-Covid world customers will be revenge shopping, 2021). In other words, consumers are making up for the times where they were forbidden to physically go shopping. A study by Matterport shows that, although consumers are excited by the new possibilities online retail is providing, they still long for the experience of interacting with a brand through its physical locations.

More than two thirds of the respondents (69%) stated that they “were missing the experience of walking around a store and browsing the product displays”(Matterport: Exploring the Future of Retail in a Virtual World, 2021). Likewise, the Global Digital Shopping Index found that there was a 28% increase in the share of consumers who are interested in cross-channel shopping experiences. In other words, a seamless, omnichannel shopping experience across all touchpoints will become the new normal. Successful retailers will be able to provide great customer experiences both digital and physical.

69% were “missing the experience of walking around a store and browsing the product displays”

MATTERPORT: EXPLORING THE FUTURE OF RETAIL IN A VIRTUAL WORLD, 2021

ViewAR is utilising the consequences of these changes and the opportunities that lie ahead. A greater focus on E-Commerce and remote accessibility has proven to be essential for the retail industry. On the other hand, physical spaces will remain. Therefore, shop managers are facing the challenges of designing roadmaps. The spaces should align with the needs of employees, consumers while also upholding necessary safety precautions. At ViewAR, we created solutions for 3D scans created with Matterport, NavVis or Leica, to ease the digitization process. With INDOAR, you can enhance traditionally offline retail-experiences with AR features such as navigation and walkthroughs. Using our positional OCR feature, you can also add, edit and manage product information.

How can AR boost the retail business?

ViewAR determines the user’s position based on a visual recognition, creating a persistent coordinate system with help of the 3D scan. This allows a variety of AR applications to connect and interact with the physical environment. By using positional OCR (Optical Character Recognition) you can recognize text into camera images and record its position. 

This approach lets you scan item numbers and barcodes on products, labels or shelves. By this, you can create Points-of-Interest in the 3D scan with correct positions in a very efficient way. Pairing this feature with a POI data API allows you to automatically add content to the Point-Of-Interest, such as pricing or product information. You can enrich the collected Points-of-Interest with product information data and then synchronize them to the Matterport scan. Moreover, you can create a virtual shopping experience by linking real products, represented in the digital twin, directly to an online shop. Considering that a shop can have thousands of items, ViewAR can help you save tons of hours and prevent false data. With ViewAR you can even add navigation and wayfinding to your 3D scans.

Do you want to build a shop, then?

With ViewAR, retailers can provide your customers with location-based product information for hundreds of products – whether they are in the store or shopping virtually through a Matterport digital twin. With our Positional OCR function you can record tags by walking in the shop and using our App to simply scan the article-numbers, barcodes or whatever reference you normally use to identify a product.

Augmented Reality in retail

Two worlds, one family

Matterport camera location scan
Matterport camera location scan

A common misconception is that any digitization processes in the retail sector will result in the extinction of brick-and-mortar stores. But Augmented Reality is more likely to build a bridge between E-Commerce and brick-and-mortar, leading physical spaces into the retail landscape of the future. Now, retailers can 3D-capture their stores or hire a professional and create a digital twin. By either using visual tracking or positional OCR, you can rapidly add Mattertags to the scan and published on Matterport.

As we move forward, it should be clarified that Augmented Reality applications aren’t just ‘Covid response tools’. They can, should, and will enhance much of what was previously done in person. Some processes might be replaced permanently. Augmented Reality in retail holds the potential to create unique brand experiences that drive conversions, repeated visits and more revenue. While consumers will stay engaged with the increasing opportunities of shopping online, it is obvious that physical stores still have a future in the world of retail. 

ViewAR provides an ecosystem of AR solutions that will help you enhance the way customers interact with your retail spaces. Read more about our Augmented Reality solution for retail. If you’d like to find out more about how Augmented Reality can benefit your retail business, please contact us.

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