Business Banking

Marketing Virtually

When customers want to shop virtually

Traditional marketing tactics were generally designed to get people into stores — to create enough interest to compel customers to get into their cars and drive over for an in-person experience. But in the post-pandemic period, when many customers would rather shop virtually, marketers are finding innovative ways to use rapidly evolving technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), to bring the storefront to the customer.

Augmented reality is a tool that enhances our perception of our physical surroundings by overlaying digital elements in our immediate environment. It’s often enabled by applications on mobile devices that allow users to create personalized, 3D product images in situ as part of a more engaging customer experience. Virtual reality goes the rest of the way by creating a virtual replacement for the physical world. While VR requires a headset to operate, it opens the door to fully virtual shopping experiences in the rapidly expanding Metaverse.

Adoption of AR/VR among the public has exploded since COVID lockdowns forced consumers to explore digital shopping alternatives. According to recent data from Statista, there are currently 150 million AR/VR users in the U.S., and AR/VR investments have boosted GDP in the U.S. by an estimated $49 billion.1

The applications of AR/VR are expanding dramatically as businesses explore ways to leverage these technologies to create more rewarding customer experiences. For example, by using simple AR applications on their smartphones, IKEA and Wayfair shoppers can see how home furnishings will look in their own homes. Women interested in L’Oreal make-up can visualize how different shades of lipstick and blush will look on their faces, and sneaker buyers can see themselves in Gucci fashions before they purchase online. Those with VR headsets and an interest in fashion can attend a fashion show using British retailer Topshop’s Catwalk Experience. Or savers can go to JP Morgan’s fully virtual bank branch in Decentraland, a virtual world in the Metaverse.

For marketers and shoppers, the benefits of AR/VR are clear. These new digital experiences offer improved product visualization, the ability to “try it before you buy it,” and overall increased product engagement. By offering highly detailed and immersive 3D models of products, consumers can know exactly how a product will work for them, with their specific needs and space. In addition, businesses using AR/VR have reported up to 40% higher purchase rates and greater post-purchase satisfaction.2

Getting a product to market and attracting new customers have always been core challenges for businesses. In today’s digital marketplace, remaining competitive may necessitate embracing new technologies for client engagement, including AR/VR. As you design and build out your sales and marketing strategy, at Washington Trust we are here to help make sure you have the resources you need to prosper.

1 Extended reality (XR); AR, VR, and MR in the United States – statistics & facts; Alsop, Thomas, Statista, Jan 25, 2022

2 20 Augmented Reality Statistics You Should Know in 2022, Threekit

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