Virtual reality – where digital devices connect with physical space – is enabling consumers to effectively test out products by trying them out virtually, online.

According to Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2018 published by Euromonitor International, augmented reality is expected to go mainstream in 2018, enabling the merging of digital and reality. This trend is already being felt in the retail sector of optometry, with apps allowing consumers to “try on” glasses at home.

Sophisticated smartphones are allowing greater functionality, including augmented reality technology, which consumers are using to try on beauty products in a selfie-style format, try on clothes in digital dressing rooms, choose glasses frames from the comfort of their couch, or how their walls would look painted a certain colour.

The use of augmented reality technology on sites such as Snapchat, Facebook and in games such as Pokémon Go has fostered awareness of the potential capabilities, the report said.

Being able to ‘see’ online how something looks – from clothing and accessories to furniture and decor – means consumers are more likely to proceed with purchases which, the consumer report states, boosts global internet retail sales.

In 2018, consumers are increasingly looking for immersive ‘try before you buy’ online shopping experiences, bringing the benefits of in-store shopping into the home, and more retailers are releasing apps to meet demand.

For consumers to be able to capture and share their purchases or get feedback online from peers adds a further ‘wow’ factor to the process.

Companies will also benefit, gaining further insight into and unique data on consumer’s homes, body types and sizes, not just their buying preferences and habits.

Optometry Australia recommends that despite the popularity of augmented reality allowing consumers to ‘try on’ glasses at home, they should see their local optometrist for a comprehensive eye test before making any purchases. Click here to find an optometrist near you.

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