Augmented Reality as Marketing Tech, Pt. 2: The Future of Shopping

In Part 1 of this series, we covered a few ways companies are using Augmented Reality, or AR, technology as marketing tools. However, new technology is introduced all the time, and flashy gimmicks come and go. Customers can be quickly disillusioned by a marketer’s new toy, and look for new ways to engage.

Today, let’s look at some less-gimmicky but still impressive ways AR is being utilized today to improve the customer shopping experience:

1. Virtual dressing rooms both at home and in-stores

As shoppers demand more efficient options both online and in stores, we’ll see more virtual dressing rooms. These aren’t the virtual dressing rooms of the past, where customers sat in front of their computer screens and slowly created outfits for Sims-like characters with a vague representation of their body type. The virtual dressing rooms of today aim for a more efficient way of shopping.

To avoid the time and hassle of trying anything on physically, customers can use virtual dressing rooms to make a quick, rough prediction of how clothing will look. We may even see QR codes that deliver items to a dressing room, which would help speed in-store time spent searching for the right size. One pioneer utilizing technology in dressing rooms is Hointer, which started as a men’s jeans store in Seattle and is now providing their tools to other companies.


Hointer’s jeans are displayed in just one size, but customers can scan the display items via their smartphone and select sizes they’d like to try. The items are then delivered straight to their dressing room. This reduces browsing time and gets customers trying on clothes faster, so they can make their purchasing decisions with fewer distractions.

2. Personalized discounts and shopping

AR can also supplement personalized marketing to create a custom shopping experience for consumers. Drugstores like Duane Reade are experimenting with Bluetooth technology that can offer customers discounts based on their unique purchasing histories and even direct them to the product’s in-store location.


Google’s Project Tango allowed customers to use a 3D mapping device to search for products and special offers located on shelves for a Walgreens pilot program. Now, Project Tango is being released to more developers, and customers might be using the devices with more brands and stores in the near future.

3. Geolocation

Already used in a number of mobile apps, geolocation utilizes the GPS in your mobile device to suggest nearby restaurants, bars, and shops in real time. The Monocle feature on the Yelp mobile app was one of the first AR applications to successfully use geolocation.

Yelp_Monocle_Android (1)

Monocle uses your smartphone camera display to show where nearby restaurants are over your current location. Whether your camera is capturing a street corner or a crowded food court, Yelp proves that it is consistently accurate and reliable when it comes to restaurant recommendation on the go, making Monocle a great example of using AR as both a useful tool for customers and as brand advertising.

The need for reliable online shopping and convenient brick-and-mortar experiences will lead to the spread of AR technologies beyond flashy marketing gimmicks. While still a relatively new concept, AR is being utilized in so many campaigns already, and it seems like the technology is here to stay. As AR becomes more integrated into the everyday shopping experience, customers will begin to expect it. With so many technologies shaping the shopping world of tomorrow, companies that don’t at least experiment with AR marketing will likely be left behind.