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Amazon introduces AR to its app as retailers failing to make the most of new tech for immersive mobile experiences

Amazon has added augmented reality features to its iOS app across Europe, allowing shoppers to view certain goods in place in their homes.

The move, which takes advantage of Apple’s ARKit built into iOS11, takes Amazon into the rarified arena of AR-enabled retailers led by Ikea that are already successfully using the technology to bring online goods into the home virtually.

The move comes as retailers in the UK are failing to make the most of new technology – especially in immersive VR and AR service –  according to the majority of consumers (51%) who say they expect to be offered better retail experiences than those currently available, says a report commissioned by Manchester mixed reality business DigitalBridge examining the use of technology in retail.

Perhaps surprisingly, it is older shoppers – those aged 35-44 – who are most disappointed by the lack of technology in retail with nearly half (48%) saying the current offerings are underwhelming.

This compares to 43% of 25-34 year olds and 35% of 18-24 year olds who also think the technology being used in retail could be better.

It found that immersive tools, and augmented reality in particular, are the most exciting new technologies in ecommerce according to consumers, along with virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

The fact that older shoppers are most disappointed with the current retail technology offering should be particularly worrying for retailers, as DigitalBridge’s previous research found that 73% of this generation are just as eager to engage with better technology than their younger counterparts.

Commenting on the findings, David Levine, CEO of DigitalBridge says: “There is so much technology now available for retailers  to use and Apple’s ARKit has only highlighted how beneficial new types of immersive and interactive platforms can be. It is surprising to see then, especially given the level of competition in the ecommerce and mobile commerce arenas, that most brands seem to be failing when it comes to offering the best consumer experience.”

Commenting on Amazon’s move, Scott Lester, Chairman of Eyekandy.com: “In adding a new AR feature to its app, Amazon has again usurped the rest of the retail industry in terms of innovation. This latest move reaffirms Amazon’s dominant position, and sets the bar even higher for retailers keen to enhance the shopping experience. Incorporating AR into its retail offering will provide Amazon with yet another differentiator, and a magnet to attracting and retaining customers.

“But all is not lost for retailers. Amazon’s AR launch should be seen as further motivation for the rest of the industry to up its digital game. Where Amazon leads, others must follow (or pre-empt), and the news should spur retailers into action, to experiment with immersive technologies, and to innovate in line with the marketplace giant.”

The lack of customer experience is partly behind the decline in customer services and user experience being seen across retail. While Bank of Scotland is rolling out AI-driven customer service in its app, a study by Engage Huba data-driven customer engagement solutions company, reveals that retailers are under-delivering on customer experience, with 22% of respondents indicating standards have declined in the last year – with 16% singling out lack of communications as a big issue.

More than half (52%) of consumers believe retailers could improve the customer experience by being seen to take feedback on board better, and 41% want to see retailers provide more tailored offers.

Lester concludes: “Implementing immersive technologies is not a possibility reserved for the big players. Retailers across the full scope of the industry must adopt the same drive and hunger to innovate as shown by Amazon. Shoppers want to be excited as well as engaged, and retailers must recognise that technology will become the lynchpin of the future shopping experience.”

 

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