Savvy brands are adding technology into the mix for a new kind of shopping experience. DX looks at augmented reality in retail with London-based digital firm Holition.
As the retail trade reinvents itself in order to stay relevant in the digital age, many brands are exploring the added value that their physical spaces can provide consumers.
London-based digital and creative firm Holition works with firms to create interactive digital experiences within their retail spaces. They call this ‘augmented retail’ – incorporating augmented reality into the shopping experience, overlaying virtual images over the existing space to allow store visitors to interact with products in a different way. Their most recent project saw them create a hand gesture-operated interface for Georg Jensen’s Bond Street, London store, allowing shoppers to create customised rings – choosing the metal, carats and number of diamonds – and see what the end result would look like sparkling on their finger.
“AR experiences allow brands to start a conversation with consumers,” says Holition founder and brand director, Lynne Murray.
“By engaging consumers in active, rather than passive experience of print, brands are able to listen, learn and watch ways in which consumers are using and interacting with their brand... By literally ‘putting you in the picture’, consumers are immediately able to see themselves wearing a product, and [this] is a great way to promote better brand loyalty.”
Experiencing a product in-store through an interactive, custom-designed interface can provide all the information a shopper needs on a product as they experience it in-store – potentially making it less likely for them to go home and purchase the product online from another site. Similarly, offering an AR experience on a retailer’s online site would encourage a shopper to stay online and purchase from that site, rather than shop around the internet.
Holition has worked with a host of luxury brands on both in-store and online platforms to help them maintain their luxe appeal and position themselves as forward-thinking, design and tech-driven.
“We find luxury houses need messaging to speak to younger audiences, particularly in the emerging markets, where digital offers a new way of presenting the ultimate prestige brand through magnified digital experiences,” Murray says.
“It is no longer enough to be a recognised brand – even big brands need to fight for the modern consumer, and digital is emerging as a leading tool to support this development.”
We can expect to see much more augmented retail in the coming years as companies like Holition explore and take the concept further and further.
“We are only just starting to touch upon the possibilities,” Murray says of the medium’s potential.
“In the studio, we introduce our clients to the ‘Holition Future’, where we explore the opportunity of integrating the senses more succinctly with digital retail experience within the next 2-3 years. This focuses on haptic, olfactory and sound-scopes, which will be increasingly important for in-store retail.
“Further to this, we are actively researching ways in which digitised 3D production of product will impact the retail landscape. When you can digitally 3D print an object which you have designed in the time it takes to have a latte, what will a ‘store’ look like?
“Expanding further, [in] 7-15 years we will be able to convincingly try on garments, in real time, with fluid cloth dynamics, online or in-store. Intelligent stores will be able to place product on your body – before you have decided to pick anything up!”