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Retail Trends: 5 Companies using AI/AR tools to enhance customer experience

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These market leaders have managed to leverage the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to create market differentiation and delight customers

New Delhi: Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered augmented reality (AR) systems use deep neural networks to enhance the AR experience by adding features such as object detection, text analysis and scene labelling.

The AI/AR technologies have been hard to implement due to their high costs and technological complexity, as per the India Phygital Index 2023 report by Images Group, Strategy& and Fynd. As many as 63% of companies surveyed in the report said so far cost was a major impediment to implementing advanced AR on their website. An equal percentage of companies said technology complexity was the hurdle. While 25% said the lack of off-the-shelf solutions was an obstacle, 19% said it was a lack of appropriate human capital. For 6%, it was low demand. Furthermore, the report found that of the businesses that have implemented these technologies, 64% of companies are unsure if their AR solution is driving sales while 36% of them are strongly positive about it.

Even today, 64% of firms believe that AR is a costly affair, while 50% of brands are of the opinion that technological complexity is a major obstacle in enabling AR.

According to the report, developing better awareness of the latest cost-effective technologies could help organizations in better leveraging of AR technologies.

Until two years ago expensive cameras and studios were required for photo shoots. The unavailability of cost-effective software was also a challenge businesses faced.

Today, things have changed. Cost and technology are not a hurdle anymore in setting up AR. Today there is:

1. Availability of high-resolution phone cameras
2. Availability of cost-effective software versions
3. Option to convert images to a 3D model through reality capture
4. Integration of AR in the brand’s app using solutions like Unity 3D or Unreal Engine.

Nevertheless, brands are still facing issues while implementing AR. These include:

1. Lack of awareness: There is still low awareness about using AI/AR in omnichannel operations.
2. Redundant knowledge of technology.
3. Brands don’t know how to develop the technology for their use case and explore other use cases that AR has to offer.
4. Inability to integrate the technology in the app in a cost-effective manner.

Despite the challenges, a few major companies have taken the leap and have implemented AI/AR tools to create differentiation and enhance customer experience. These companies include:

  1. Amazon
    Launched in 1995 by American entrepreneur, media proprietor and investor Jeff Bezos, Amazon is an e-commerce and cloud computing company. Headquartered in Seattle and Washington, Amazon entered India in June 2013 as a marketplace.This is how the company used AI/AR tools-
    – Customers can now use AR to view the products in their space
    -They can also check product aesthetics and fit before purchasing the itemRetail Trends: Companies using AI/AR tools to enhance customer experience
  2. Havells
    Fast-moving electrical goods (FMEG) company Havells India Ltd. is a power distribution equipment manufacturer with a strong global presence and a wide product portfolio, including industrial and domestic circuit protection devices, cables, wires, motors, fans, modular switches, home appliances, air conditioners, electric water heaters, and power capacitors, luminaries for domestic, commercial and industrial applications. Havells’ products are available in over 60 countries and it has 14 manufacturing plants in India.This is how the company implemented AI/AR tools:
    – Customers can experience product rendering through the application
    – Customers can check product aesthetics and fit using the AR feature.
    Retail Trends: Companies using AI/AR tools to enhance customer experience
  3. Ikea
    Founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad, Swedish home furnishing major Ikea started its business by selling household goods like pens, wallets and picture frames and today it is the most well-known home furnishing brand across the globe. The Swedish multinational conglomerate Ikea made its debut in India with a 13-acre complex in Hyderabad in the year 2018 and currently, it operates large format outlets in India in the range of 400,000-500,000 sq. ft. in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru.This is how the company implemented AI/AR tools:
    – Customers can use the AR feature to view the products in their space
    – They can also check product aesthetics and fit before purchasing the product

Retail Trends: Companies using AI/AR tools to enhance customer experience

4. Lenskart
Founded in 2010 by a former Microsoft employee Peyush Bansal, Lenskart is an e-commerce first omnichannel platform specializing in eyewear. The 13-year-old homegrown multinational eyewear retail chain operates over 1,000 offline stores, three-fourths of which are in India.The eyewear company’s primary objective of setting up offline stores was the demand of Indian consumers in buying eyewear online since the customers wanted to test the products physically, experiencing to ensure their quality. Its in-house facilities such as 3-D trial services, robotic techniques, and home eye testing services have facilitated a smooth transition to an omnichannel model.
This is how the company implemented AI/AR:
– Customers can virtually try products via the brand’s application
– Customers can use the AR feature to get suggestions on frames that best suit the customer’s face shape and size.
Retail Trends: Companies using AI/AR tools to enhance customer experience

5. Nykaa
Founded in April 2012 by the former managing director of Kotak Mahindra Capital Company Falguni Nayar, Nykaa is a digital-first omnichannel beauty platform and chain. Considered India’s largest omnichannel beauty destination, Nykaa offers a combination of over 2400 domestic, international, luxury, prestige, premium, niche, and cult beauty brands with 100% authenticity certificates and expert advice and videos, along with a beauty helpline for its consumers. The platform specializes in multiple categories, including skincare, hair care, bath and body, fragrance, grooming appliances, personal care, health and wellness. Today, the same platform accounts for 38% of the online beauty and personal care market in India, according to a report by Images Group, Fynd, PWC and Strategy&.
This is how the company benefitted its customers with the implementation of AI/AR tools-
– Customers can use the feature to virtually try products in a hygienic and contactless manner.

Retail Trends: Companies using AI/AR tools to enhance customer experience

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