In the ‘Benchmarking the Digital Transformation’ report, PYMNTS found that 83% of Britons owned a smartphone, the second highest compared to data from the other 10 countries surveyed.
That same report found that a third of UK consumers’ online transactions used a mobile wallet, which also accounted for 18% of in-store payments.
Read the report: Global Digital Purchasing Index 2022
And yet, as the latest PYMNTS Digital Shopping Playbook reveals, the cross-channel or hybrid approach to retail that uses mobile devices to enhance and facilitate in-store shopping is not as widespread in the UK as In other countries.
See also: UK leads Europe in internet access, second in CE index, study finds
The study found that UK shoppers use smartphones 16% less than consumers in other countries to improve their in-store shopping experiences. This represents a strange anomaly in a country that is generally very open to mobile technology.
Read more: New data: Mobile shopping still underused by UK consumers despite merchants’ efforts
AR and physical retail: a promising avenue for commerce
While the growth of smartphone-enhanced shopping appears to have plateaued in the UK, that hasn’t stopped the country’s pioneering retailers from forging ahead with an innovation in mobile ShopTech: augmented reality (AR ).
When Apple opened a new flagship store in London last month, it celebrated the launch with an AR experience centered on London poet and painter William Blake, created for the Getty Museum using Apple technology.
The collaboration is another example of Apple’s continued interest in AR, as noted on its UK website: “Apple has the largest AR platform in the world, with hundreds of millions of AR-enabled devices, as well as thousands of AR apps on the App Store. And because Apple hardware and software are designed Right off the bat for augmented reality, there’s no better way to experience it.
Related: Apple launches WWDC with an eye on connecting everyone
Apple isn’t the only company using AR to improve the in-store retail experience in the UK. Notable examples include high-end department store Harrods, which used AR technology in its 2021 Christmas window displays, as well as global AR pioneer. -powered in-store fun – Lego – which has run a number of AR campaigns over the years.
That said, there are ways other than AR to entice UK consumers to embrace mobile devices in their physical purchases.
The new Apple London store is also home to the UK’s first Apple Pickup area, which allows customers to order products online and have them waited at the store. Here too, The Digital Shopping Playbook found that the UK lags behind other countries in adopting in-store collection, with UK consumers 8 times more likely to use delivery than in-store collection.
Ultimately, smartphone-assisted shopping is still in its infancy. Despite slow adoption in the UK, there are promising signs that technologies like augmented reality can further excite consumers and boost their use of mobile devices in physical retail.
In reality, to research by Bazaarvoice revealed that 48% of UK consumers want to see AR/virtual reality (VR) in physical stores, but how AR will be applied to in-store retail in the future remains unclear.
See also: Walmart’s new AR tool helps personalize shopping
In the parallel world of e-commerce, however, many apps and websites now offer AR “virtual dressing rooms” that allow users to try on items using augmented reality. Similarly, companies like Ikea are using AR to help people imagine what home furniture will look like in their bedrooms before they buy it.
Read more: FaceCake and Company.Com Collaborate on “Self-Service” AR Commerce
These types of use cases offer a glimpse of what the future of augmented reality in brick-and-mortar retail might look like.
While the tech mobilizations of Apple, Harrods and Lego are entertaining, they don’t have the same practical implications for how people shop as augmented reality does in e-commerce. Nevertheless, as augmented reality is increasingly used in all areas of retail, it will likely continue to play an increasing role in physical purchases.
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