Augmented reality and what it means for online retailers


One of the most exciting speakers at the recent Online Retail Summit was Martin Newman, from Practicology.

Augmented reality and the future of online retailing

Martin discussed the future of online retailing and predicts that Augmented Reality will replace the smartphone, the TV, and anything else with a screen.

 “There is not much use for a separate device sitting in your pocket or on your entertainment centre if all your calls, chats, movies and games are beamed into your eyes and overlaid on the world around you.  There will be a huge rise not just in talking to computers but having them talk back. That will truly be conversational commerce”.   Martin Newman, Practicology

What is Augmented Reality?

One of the biggest confusions in the world of augmented reality is the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality.  Both are earning a lot of media attention and are promising tremendous growth, especially in the eCommerce arena.

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it.

AR technology is quickly coming into the mainstream. It is used to display score overlays on tele-casted sports games and pop out 3D emails, photos or text messages on mobile devices. Leaders of the tech industry are also using AR to do amazing and revolutionary things with holograms and motion activated commands.

How does Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality relate to online retailing?  

AR and VR are being used to drive experiential commerce and boost consumer engagement.  With the use of these technologies, retailers can provide more interactive experiences for customers.

Imagine you’re shopping online at your favourite interior design store and you see a gorgeous chair you just have to have!  Do you buy it and hope it suits your home or do you use AR technology that the online store offers to view your room with the your new chair nicely positioned by the window?  Or perhaps a new office chair but you’re unsure it will suit your office space?

Watch this exciting demonstration of Augmented Reality in action for retail.


Using AR,  gives you the retailer, the chance to show your customers how their world could be with that specific item they are considering buying and removes the anxiety of whether they should purchase or not.

Using Augmented Reality as part of your online experience for customers may be just the thing to reduce barriers to purchase and get your customer over the line!

“The VR and AR boom might not be quite as transformational as the dawn of eCommerce, but retailers still can’t afford to ignore this potential shift in technology and consumer demand.  The biggest hurdle customers so often face is determining whether a certain product is right for them. AR offers shoppers the confidence that may motivate purchasing decisions. Retailers, then, should be looking for ways to integrate AR into their stores. That will allow customers to view the in-depth information available online — including reviews, related products and price — while simultaneously looking at the actual  physical product via a smartphone.”


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