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IBM Unveils Augmented Reality Mobile Shopping App For In-Store Engagement

  • Written by Alicia Fiorletta

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Shoppers are demanding more personalized offers, communications and item recommendations from retailers today. As a result, they are more willing to share personal information with retailers to ensure these experiences are provided. As many as 73% of shoppers would share their demographic information, including age and ethnicity, according to recent research from IBM’s Institute for Business Value.

The 2012 Consumer Survey also revealed that 61% of consumers are willing to share their identification, such as name and address, and 59% are open to sharing information about their lifestyle.

To address the need for hyper-personalized brand experiences within brick-and-mortar stores, IBM Research scientists recently unveiled an augmented reality shopping application for smartphones. Designed to let consumers browse store shelves and receive personalized product information, recommendations and coupons, the augmented reality app offers shoppers the power to customize settings, ensuring they receive the offers they want and need, according to Jill Puleri, Global Retail Leader for IBM. IBM’s augmented reality app is still in prototype mode, and is being tested as a retail-branded mobile offering for several of IBM’s clients, she reported.

The new app, “will allow retailers to get creative with how they promote, reach and communicate with shoppers, which is a big deal to today’s CMOs,” Puleri told Retail TouchPoints. “Interactive promotions and sales possible through the app allows retailers to reach shoppers closer to that moment of truth while they’re in store aisles.”

Providing A Higher Value Of Service
Consumers are able to download the augmented reality app after entering a store and register by entering their phone number or loyalty card account information. Once the registration process is completed, users create a profile of features and preferences. For example, shoppers can tailor grocery store inventory based on food allergies, price or whether packaging is biodegradable, Puleri explained.

“Today’s consumers are used to receiving an influx information while searching on the web,” Puleri said, “so we wanted to create something that would cater to the desire of having that instantaneous information while people are in stores seeking the best items for their personal needs.” Moreover, as consumers continue to research potential purchases online while roaming store aisles, the app is designed to help retailers provide a “higher value of service,” she added.

When shoppers point their tablet or smartphone camera at an item, the app recognizes it in real time and overlays information such as ingredients, price, ratings/reviews, as well as discounts that apply the day of the store visit. This information is delivered to shoppers’ mobile screens via the retailer’s back-end computer system.

If opted in, shoppers also can integrate data from their social networks, such as friend reviews or comments, into a product’s information stream. Using this technology, Puleri said, retailers will be able to connect the dots between digital information, offers and in-store experiences, leading to greater engagement and purchase likelihood.

“Retailers know that consumers are going to be using their mobile phones in some way while in stores,” Puleri noted. “Why not arm shoppers with the information to help make better purchase decisions while speeding up time to checkout? It’s an easy way for shoppers to receive information on a variety of products and help them determine if a product suits them well.”
 

 

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