Online shopping is seeing a futuristic platform as NexTech launches its “sentiment-based technology solution” for its Try-It-On retail augmented reality platform. Thanks to AI provided by Microsoft Azure, shopping will take fewer clicks as the application judges users’ reaction to what they’re seeing and taking their smile as a cue to urge them to make a purchase.
AI is already learning to do what human salespeople have done for generations: gauge a customer’s sentiment and capitalize on it to make a sale. The difference is that NexTech is making facial recognition and analysis possible within retailers’ augmented reality apps and websites, rather than limiting it to physical stores.
NexTech uses a device’s camera to live-sample facial expressions and then offer on-screen prompts based on what Azure’s AI “sees.” This happens while users are virtually trying on a 3D-rendered article of clothing or looking at a 360-degree view of a product. A positive reaction might conjure up an “add to cart” prompt, while a negative reaction could suggest an alternative option that might be more to the users; liking. Retailers can customize the prompts and sentiments to their needs.
NexTech CEO Evan Gappelberg’s explains:
“It’s a similar effect to the attentiveness of an in-store employee trying to persuade the customer to buy something they are trying on…except now it can be done digitally, both at the point of purchase and through retargeting at a later time.”
Hence, if users leave the retailer’s app or site, it can email them later with a deal and know how they responded when they wish to come back.
And the AI-powered insights can be improved, he suggested. “Retailers using this technology will be able to convert customers at a higher rate by having insights into what they like and what they don’t and refining what’s marketed to them, creating the customized experience consumers desire to empower their purchasing decisions.”
In some cultures, face-to-face haggling over prices is a daily occurrence, with strategically timed smiles, stern faces, and frowns serving as negotiating techniques. But as shopping continues to move online, this sort of personalized element could get lost.
As NexTech points out, 100 million customers are expected to use AR in some form as they shop by 2020, so solutions like this could make their experiences more sentiment-responsive. Augmented Reality has been the province of behemoths like Amazon and Apple, but a small-cap firm is finding success bringing AR to smaller businesses.
Just last December, NexTech’s AR shopping solution reached one of the biggest e-commerce website, the Shopify.
AR shopping has justified the label as the next big ecommerce thing. Yet we were still one patent away from true integration into Web browsers that would bring seamless Augmented Reality online shopping to the masses. No longer, as NextTech has managed to integrate its shopping AR solution into the likes of Shopify and extending its Web AR solutions to Magento, and WordPress.
In a previous report on retail and online shopping, it was mentioned that 100 million shoppers are expected to use AR online and in-store by 2020, according to Gartner. A global survey of retail executives found that 46% plan to deploy either AR or VR solutions to meet customer service experience requirements.
Solution providers also are expanding their capabilities in AR. Going back, NexTech AR Solutions’ “Smiling” is only one of the many sentiment analysis capabilities that launched this year.
Other sentiment analytics solutions are being used to shape decisions around product assortments and merchandising. Rue21 has incorporated consumer-driven predictive analytics using data drawn from social media platforms into its design, buying, planning and pricing decisions through a partnership with First Insight. As a result, the product testing period was reduced from six to nine months to two days, and the retailer saw margin increases as high as 6% on the products processed through the platform.
But it’s not just Augmented Reality that will make it big in the retail and marketing world.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have the potential to shake up the customer experience by individualizing retailers’ offers and enabling customers to visualize products in different settings.
AR and VR are already making an entry into the digital workplace. The Global Mixed Reality Market size is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2023, rising at a market growth of 77.3% until 2023. Mixed reality (MR), also referred to as hybrid reality, is the technology that is used to merge real and virtual worlds and produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
The mixed reality market will witness rapid growth due to increasing demand for innovative and wearable products. The aerospace and defense sectors further add to the market expansion as the mixed reality products can be used in training programs. This is not the same, though, as 100 million consumers using it for shopping.