AI and AR: Improving the Retail Customer Experience

Digital technology is paving the way for online retail and ecommerce experiences. Customers want an ever-increasing amount of information for products, without increasing the inconvenience for them to acquire it. Augmented reality (AR) gives customers a near-physical look at products they find on a digital marketplace, bringing the storefront to their home.

When driven by AI, AR is able to reach its full potential. At Future Workforce, we help retail businesses deploy cutting-edge AI solutions – and the customer experience is no exception. In this article, we’ll discuss the impact AI has on AR, the knock-on effect for customer service, and how you can utilise these innovative technologies.

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How does AI impact AR?

Traditionally, AI and AR haven’t depended on one another – in fact, they’ve had very little interaction at all. However, user requirements have shifted, and AR as a simple 3D visualisation tool is no longer enough. To create a good customer experience in retail, AI and AR need to work together.

On the backend, AI and AR have already collaborated by increasing operational efficiencies e.g. through better inventory management. However, it is growing increasingly powerful on frontend systems as well.

WebAR, a web-based augmented reality technology, has removed the need for an app to function. Instead, it utilises the camera of a phone or tablet, making it more accessible to users.

How do Customers Use AR?

The main way that AI and AR can work together to improve the user experience is through communication. By interacting with generative AI and LLMs, AI will be able to understand physical objects and use AR to feed that information back to the user. This is particularly noticeable with the rise of personal AR systems like the Meta Ray-Bans– soon to be featuring Meta AI.

Interacting with surroundings requires an understanding of them. Without AI, it would be impossible to contextualise every object, place, and person in a given area while also being responsive to user requirements. Reality doesn’t have lag, and AI stops AR from having delays either.

AI is impacting more than just AR for retail – find out how it improves the last mile >

What is the Effect of AR on the Retail Customer Experience?

1. Personalisation

Personalisation revolves around the customer experience itself. Making things intuitive and accessible, while also having a personal feeling that makes customers feel more invested. This could be from personalised chatbots, bespoke product recommendations, or features which allow customers to do it themselves with tasks such as maintenance or troubleshooting.
Personalisation is supported by other features which can also be enhanced by AI, such as predictive buying or demand forecasting, creating a greater overall effect when these technologies work in tandem.
Find out about how AI is impacting product personalisation in our 2024 tech trends report >

2. Customisation

While personalisation is about the customer, customisation is all about the products. With AR, you can show and adjust a products appearance in situ, meaning the customer can change it to suit their needs. AI helps to support this, setting boundaries for what can be achieved and perhaps offering personalised recommendations.

3. Visualisation

Virtual try-ons and scaled 3D images are the core of visualisation. These allow customers to interact with a product and see how it would look, whether it would fit or suit them, and a glimpse at its benefits before ever buying it.
Not only is this a clever marketing tactic (employed by companies like The North Face to resounding success), but it also improves the customer experience – letting them see whether they actually want your product, while simultaneously reducing the risk of dissatisfaction or returns.

4. Education

Interactive guides are easier than ever to make and follow with AR, while remote troubleshooting can also be achieved. AI is needed for this as without it, the program could only ever have a surface level understanding on the problem or surroundings. To gain a deeper understanding, more responsiveness, and a better educational programme, AI is a necessary component.

5. Connection

AI and AR can also help keep people connected. From interactive campaigns to brand storytelling, these technologies can help to contextualise the world around us. For retail, this means a greater insight into the application for products, and easier decision-making for customers when it comes to making a purchase.

Every step of the AR customer experience can be enhanced through AI – get in touch to secure your solution.

How to Implement Digital Innovations into Your Business

How to Implement Digital Innovations into Your Business

Step 1 – Outline Areas for Improvement

If you don’t understand what needs to be changed, then you’ll have a very hard time changing it. Analyse your current systems to find any potential inefficiencies, helping to inform where to start a more involved search.
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Step 2 – Identify Specific Issues

Now that you’ve found the problem location, it’s time to find what exactly can be improved. Dig deeper into your current systems and match each challenge or issue with a solution. We can assist with this, helping you to link digital technologies to your business.
For the customer experience, this could mean adding interactive demos, launching an AR campaign, or providing remote assistance through instruction overlays.

Step 3 – Determine Your Available Resources

In an ideal world, you’d be able to respond to each and every issue. However, that isn’t usually the case, so make sure you create a priority list for your issues and allocate an appropriate resource to address each.
This would also involve performing a cost-benefit analysis of implementing new technologies. You should consider both short and long term, and whether or not the tech is future proofed enough to pay itself off for years to come.

We help bring your processes to the modern era. Find out how we do it with application modernisation >

Step 4 – Find a Solution that Matches Your Needs

Quality, cost, and longevity are all key factors for any new solution. We provide all three, giving you robust AI support for your AR projects that helps you to massively improve the customer experience.

Step 5 – Implement and Improve

The cycle doesn’t stop here. Once you’ve adopted a new technology and begun to see results, you should go back and find any other inefficiencies in your business. This doesn’t have to be just customer service – although it is a key area for AR in retail. Operational efficiencies, storage, distribution, and more can all be areas to consider how the latest innovations can propel your business activities into the future.

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AI-Powered Solutions from Future Workforce

Any good AR system will be supported by AI, helping it to understand the world around it and providing customers with the best experience possible. In retail and beyond, AI is making waves – stay on top and ahead with solutions from Future Workforce.

Get in touch to see how we can support your business with AI innovations, or find out more about the evolving industry with some of our other insights below.

AI is transforming customer service through chatbots too – find out more >

Learn how to leverage low-code platforms for your inventory management >

AI and AR: Improving the Retail Customer Experience

Edwin Provoost

Edwin Provoost

Business Manager

An experienced commercial and organizational business builder with a comprehensive international network on senior level. Highly energetic, focused, strong on sharing knowledge, building trust & relationships and used to acting on C-level

Daniel Young

Daniel Young

Consulting Director

Has over 20 years of consulting experience at global system integrators across Europe, US, Middle East and Asia. Prior to FWF, Daniel led Intelligent Automation Consulting Practices supporting organisations across Financial Services, Banking, Insurance, and Energy sectors to achieve value from Intelligent Automation.

Contact Daniel