IBM has launched an augmented reality mobile shopping app that will make it possible for consumers to pan store shelves and receive personalised product information, recommendations and coupons while they browse shopping aisles.
Upon entering a store, consumers download the app on their smart phone or tablet, register, and create a profile of features that matter to them — from product ingredients that could trigger an allergy, to whether packaging is biodegradable.
When they point their device’s video camera at merchandise, the app will instantly recognise products and, via augmented reality technology, overlay digital details over the images — such as ingredients, price, reviews and discounts that apply that day. If consumers opt in, information from their social networks can be integrated into the information stream. For instance, if a friend had reviewed or made a comment about a product they’re looking at, they’ll see it.
Using IBM’s prototype app, shoppers looking for breakfast cereal could specify they want a brand low in sugar, highly rated by consumers — and on sale. As a shopper pans the mobile device’s camera across a shelf of cereal boxes, the augmented shopping app reveals which cereals meet the criteria and provides a same-day coupon to entice consumers to make a purchase.
“In the age of social media, consumer expectations are soaring and people want information and advice about the products they’re going to buy,” said Sima Nadler, retail lead, IBM Research. “By closing the gap between the online and in-store shopping experience, marketers can appeal to the individual needs of consumers and keep them coming back.”
The app, being developed by IBM’s Research lab in Haifa, Israel, is claimed to address the fundamental gap between the wealth of readily available product details on the web that in-store shoppers don’t have access to – despite the fact in-store shopping accounts for more than 92% of the retail volume, according to Forrester Research).
Retailers will be able to use the app to build in-store traffic by connecting with individual consumers, turning marketing into a welcomed service that is not intrusive, said IBM. The app can make it easier for retailers to understand consumer likes and dislikes and offer related products in other aisles, such as bananas or milk, to accompany a cereal purchase, for example. It could also make loyalty points and digital coupons become more convenient for shoppers, freeing them from the hassle of searching for discounts.