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ABI Research Predicts AR Will Struggle In Brick And Mortar Retail Environment

Adoption within the sector will be driven by online usage.

ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm that provides strategic guidance on compelling transformative technologies have reported that augmented reality (AR) will see major adoption within the retail sector, but not in the way many have predicted. The adoption of the technology will be driven by the retail workforce and online shoppers rather than within the brick and mortar brick environment, according to ABI Research.


AR experiences are expected to grow in use as they provide to be extremely useful for online customers who are unable to interact with the physical products they are looking to purchase. Nick Finill, Senior Analyst at ABI Research commented: “For consumers in brick and mortar stores, however, AR can disrupt the customer journey and provides little additional value overall.” For the in-store employees however AR technology promises to deliver operational efficiencies and raise the quality of the service delivered, ABI Research expects.

The retail sector has already seen a steady rise in adoption of AR technology, much like that of other industrial sectors. Smart glasses from manufacturers such as Vuzix are already starting to be used by retail employees to aid them with front and back-of-store operations. ABI Research forecasts that by 2022 over 120,000 stores will be using AR smart glasses around the world to help with operations. Deployment will be evenly split across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, the company forecast. This adoption will be driven by the need for efficiency savings to compete with rival retailers and the online sector in general.

Vuzix M300 Visual Aid

ABI Research also forecast that, by 2020, 3% of e-commerce revenue will be generated as a direct result of AR experiences. This equates to $122 billion (USD) in revenue worldwide. “The relative ease of integrating AR into existing m-commerce platforms and the impact this can have on the user experience will largely drive customer demand,” Finill added.

No matter the impact or benefits of using AR though, ABI Research still predict that AR will not be able to overcome the barriers of the physical retail sector which is less reliant on the use of mobile devices. For retailers and AR solution providers, ABI Research notes that the challenges is no changing the perception of AR from a novelty gimmick into a technology which will truly engage customers online and improve the bottom line in-store.

For more from ABI Research, keep reading VRFocus.

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