Why And How to Adopt Augmented Reality in Retail

Why And How to Adopt Augmented Reality in Retail

Augmented Reality (AR) is being utilized in various areas of contemporary industry due to its capacity to improve user interaction. A report by MarketsandMarkets indicates that the AR market, valued at approximately $10.7 billion in 2019, is predicted to reach $72.7 billion by 2024. This article concentrates on the possibilities and essential measures for taking on augmented reality in the retail industry.

With such massive potential, it’s unsurprising that augmented reality in retail looks set to redefine how we shop in the future—with retailers jumping on board to exploit its ability to enhance shopping experiences and boost customer satisfaction and sales.

In addition, the constant proliferation of smartphones and the availability of high-speed internet connections have facilitated the development of built-in AR libraries such as ARKit and ARCore, allowing more companies to easily incorporate augmented reality technology.

What Are The Benefits Of AR For Retail?

In a recent survey conducted by BPR, it was found that 48% of the participants would opt for retailers who provide augmented reality as a part of their shopping experience. This has become increasingly popular during the times of social distancing, where being in close proximity is not favorable. Augmented reality enables us to follow social distancing protocols while enjoying an enriched shopping experience that includes:

Getting additional information beyond what is specified on a product tag.

Trying out various products and services through digital means.

Testing out items in various environments without the need to visit a brick-and-mortar store.

Several famous retail companies such as Apple, Burberry, and ASOS are currently using AR technology to enhance their services and adapt to changing customer demands. In this article, you will learn about the key elements of creating an impactful virtual and augmented reality experience in the retail industry and beyond.

If you’re curious about ways to incorporate augmented reality (AR) into your retail business to provide engaging and interactive experiences, then we have summarized the powerful technology for you. While AR headsets are not currently affordable for most people, we will concentrate on the fundamental principles of AR app development for the sake of this article.

The Basics Of AR

We will begin by discussing the two types of smartphones that are presently available for you to use to bring your AR vision to fruition.

Web-based AR technology enables individuals to engage with your AR encounter through a browser on the internet. This can be done through a direct connection or via the scanning of a QR code.

The AR technology that is accessible through a downloadable application involves the same actions as the web-based version, but requires an extra step that takes a few minutes and consumes an additional 10-100 MB of data.

Choosing the option that suits your business model is more important than one being better than the other.

In order to understand the basics of AR technology and creating an immersive experience, we need to examine certain aspects. AR technology operates much like a regular camera app, with only a few buttons to navigate. However, to generate an augmented reality, two components are necessary: a marker and a 3D model.

To make a model that is suitable for mobile devices, you will require the skills of a 3D designer. The model can be either still or moving, and it should be made with an eye on optimization. Once the 3D model has been created, it must be linked to a real-world object, known as a marker. The type of marker used depends only on your creativity, but keep in mind that there are certain technical restrictions to think of.

A smartphone has varying detection times for different markers, which can cause the 3D model to seem unsteady if the phone is not quick enough. To ensure smooth movements when walking around the model, it is recommended to have a minimum of 25 frames per second (FPS) for good user experience. However, for situations where there is minimal movement, such as pointing the phone at a magazine, 15 FPS may suffice.

In general, the development of AR technology can be divided into two identifiable groups:

1. Marker-based augmented reality in retail

In order to experience augmented reality through markers, it is necessary to have a physical object to serve as a trigger. This object must be static and present in the real world. Once detected, augmented content such as videos, animations, and 3D objects can be displayed. There are several types of markers commonly used for this purpose.

ARToolkit, ARUco, and April Tag are all markers that have a distinct pattern and typically include a dark outline. These markers are simple for users to locate, particularly when the outline is wide, and they are detectable even at distances of 2-4 meters with a marker size of 10cm. Slow smartphones can quickly pinpoint these markers.

A QR code serves a dual purpose of functioning as a web application while also working as a marker. Despite a slightly shorter tracking distance of 1.5-2 meters (when the QR code measures 10cm), unlike the first option, these codes are better recognized by users.

Image – This refers to a depiction of a product through means such as a logo or a photograph. Usually, these are displayed in a magazine or on the product’s physical packaging. The wine company, 19 Crimes, based in Australia, uses their wine label as a tool to intrigue consumers. By simply pointing a camera at the label, the image will come to life and showcase a narrative like a scene from the Harry Potter series, allowing for a captivating and innovative way to engage with customers.

Face – The use of a program to recognize key facial features such as the eyes and lips is a popular technique for tracking the face. This technique enables the user to experiment with makeup, eyewear, jewelry and other accessories. Social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat also use this technology for their filters. Furthermore, big names in cosmetics such as Sephora and L’Oreal use AR-enabled technology to provide customers the opportunity to test and pick out products that are most suitable for them.

When the marker is tilted or shifted even slightly, the digital content that is superimposed on it also moves in the same direction, creating the appearance of the product from a variety of angles. High-quality AR content that is marker-based is straightforward and dependable, allowing for smooth tracking.

If the marker is too far away from the camera, the augmented reality content will not be visible. Additionally, the reliability of tracking depends on an object’s contrast in comparison to its surroundings. When the contrast is insufficient, the image will not be recognized.

2. Markerless augmented reality

AR technology that does not require markers to produce augmented content is called markerless or location-based AR. It operates using simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM), digital compass, and other technical means.

Designing an augmented reality (AR) encounter that is not tied to a particular object is a difficult undertaking across various industries, especially in retail. It requires the program to scan the surroundings and attach an AR entity in any feasible location, whether it be putting a shelf on a wall or parking a car in a garage.

Markerless AR technology, utilized by IKEA Place and Amazon’s AR View, enables customers to visualize how furniture will appear in their personal living spaces.

The capability of this kind of AR application was only made feasible with the creation of native AR libraries such as ARCore (Android) and ARKit (iOS) that were mentioned earlier. Regrettably, web-based programs do not have the capacity to fully utilize these libraries at present. However, iOS is capable of showcasing still models without any engagement.

Markerless AR technology offers enhanced mobility and stability for users, utilizing advanced technology that does not rely on markers. However, at present, any surface that is scanned must be textured in order for the computer to identify it.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both marker-based and markerless augmented reality (AR) technologies, and which one you choose will depend on the intended use of the AR system. Marker-based approaches are more suitable for presenting information that is tied to a particular location, whereas markerless technologies offer greater engagement and a more immersive experience.

AR’s Evolution Is Good News For Adopters

We tried using a web browser for AR in 2016 in order to simplify its use for users and eliminate the need to download additional apps. Even though web browsers were not specifically designed for AR and had significant technological restrictions, users were still able to experience the augmented reality.

The outcomes of our trial were not impressive. Just a single category of AR marker displayed satisfactory results, reaching up to 30 frames per second. This specific marker had a broad black border, which may not be visually appealing on a website or glossy magazine pages.

After four years, we are now prepared to announce some positive developments. Smartphones have become much more advanced, as have the algorithms used in augmented reality and mobile browsers.


The utilization of augmented reality in retail can provide significant advantages to customers such as a better understanding of product details and virtual trials before purchasing, resulting in businesses gaining a competitive edge by rendering realistic shopping experiences over the internet. Despite a few technical challenges, such as the slow speed of some web-based augmented reality solutions, developers are continuously striving to remove these issues every year.

If you are prepared to enhance your business by incorporating AR solutions, we are available to assist you in making your digital ideas a reality. Get in touch with us for further details.

The author of the piece is Taras Chaykivskyy, who works as a Research and Development Engineer for a company called ELEKS.