In part one, we gave examples of clever uses of augmented reality in retail and showed how AR can be a great tool for increasing sales, customer engagement, and enhancing the brand.
To go a little further on what a retail CIO needs to know in order to better deploy AR in their organization, we asked Qualcomm's director of business development in Europe and managing director of the Qualcomm Sweden Branch, Richard Savage, to unveil some tips for retail CIOs who want to get started with AR.
E2: How difficult/time consuming is it for brands/retailers to implement AR, also considering budget?
Richard Savage: The effort and cost varies greatly with the type of experience you're seeking to implement. On one end of the spectrum, you can deploy a direct-response campaign within marketing-oriented apps such as ViewAR or Blippar. This can be done in a matter of days, and with almost any budget. On the other end of the spectrum, you can implement an immersive, high-fidelity 3D experience that provides a whole new layer of digital interaction on top of your physical products. Such an effort can easily exceed several months and requires a higher level of investment. Successful AR projects have been implemented across the entire spectrum.
E2: What are the three things CIOs need to know about AR?
Savage: First, all AR platforms are not created equal. Customers are easily frustrated with apps that don't work. If your AR experience doesn't work the first time, your customer is not likely to try it again, and you risk creating a negative association with your brand. The quality of AR platforms and computer vision technology varies widely. You should select a platform that is most likely to provide the best experience in a widest variety of real-world situations. Customer usage environments tend to be much more challenging than those where you'll see demos -- lighting can vary widely, devices and objects can be moving, and objects can appear deformed and/or obstructed.
Second, use a developer/agency that understands AR. The most common complaint about AR campaigns is they can be gimmicky. This results from experiences that use AR for AR's sake vs. using AR where it really contributes to the experience. If your developer/agency can't explain to you what makes a good AR experience and back it up with a successful campaign in their portfolio, you may want to look further.
Lastly, get started now. While AR is still in its early days, brand and consumer adoption is growing quickly. It is very likely that in the near future, consumers will expect a layer of digital interaction on top of your products, packaging, and print media. This kind of interaction is an unprecedented opportunity for brands to build, maintain, and measure direct relationships with their consumers across multiple touch points in both retail environments and at home. Depending on your product, it may also represent a new revenue opportunity. In either case, it's best to understand AR as soon as possible.
It is now in the hands of the CIO and CMO to evaluate the best possible strategy to bring the marketing plan and the technology together. Getting the timing right, the message right, and most importantly, the technology right, is key. We'd love to hear from you. Does your organization intend to implement AR this coming year? If so, how do you plan on implementing it?