As online shopping continues to grow in popularity, brick-and-mortar retailers are tasked with making the in-person shopping experience more engaging. For many retailers, this means increasing the convenience of shopping and introducing new ways for customers to benefit from their trip to the store.

Fortunately, up-and-coming technologies offer great potential to fill in this gap and bring customer engagement to new heights. Exciting possibilities with digital objects that can be interacted with in augmented reality is going to reinvent how shoppers engage with retail brands in store, at home and on the go. 

As a technology, augmented reality (AR) really made its mark in 2016 with the release of Pokémon GO. The game allowed players to hunt digital creatures and see them in the “real world” through the camera on their smartphones. The game was a smash hit, and though its popularity has waned some in the years since release, it still served to introduce the concept of AR to consumers on a large scale.

Games like Pokémon GO aren’t the only way to use AR in a consumer setting. Translation apps already exist which view text through a camera’s phone and overlay the same text translated into another language. Some GPS systems use AR as well, adding route notations and identifying amenities available at different locations to what’s shown on a phone display. 

Digital Objects and AR for Retail

Retail outlets can put this same technology to work in stores to increase shopper engagement. A natural evolution of this is for retailers to utilize AR camera functionality in their mobile applications and websites. Being able to find pricing information, product information and even things like user reviews just by taking a picture would certainly make the shopping experience more engaging.

Add this to promotional efforts such as AR-centric coupons (scan the product with your app to add a coupon to your digital wallet) and Pokémon GO-like games played in stores (such as 2018’s Jurassic World 2 AR tie-in campaign at select retailers) and it’s easy to see how augmented reality will become a major force in shopper engagement moving into the future.

Demonstration Video – Capturing Intel branded Virtual Butterflies using the AR camera in the Web Viewer


Digital Objects on the Blockchain

One of the biggest technologies that retailers could use to increase shopper engagement is using digital objects – called Vatoms – on the blockchain. While it’s most famous for being the technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the nature of blockchain technology makes it ideal for a number of retail applications.

A key feature of the blockchain is that it is nearly impossible to alter records within it without the changes being noticed. This could make blockchain gift certificates all but fraud-proof since retailers would not only be able to verify whether the gift certificate is legitimate but they could also verify whether a customer is authorized to use it (such as a limited gift for someone in a VIP member program.)

Retail loyalty programs could also benefit from blockchain technology. In addition to offering heightened security, the digital objects that are published to a blockchain also removes the need for a central server to store customer data. This means that the likelihood of a loyalty program being breached and having member information stolen is significantly reduced since there would be no central server to target.


Drive in-store trips and shopper loyalty

To stay competitive, retailers have to find new ways to enrich the consumer experience and give shoppers a reason to choose their stores over the countless other options available locally and online. By embracing digital objects for omnichannel engagement and seeing its potential in creating a richer shopping experience, you can set your company apart.

Digital Objects also offer up possibilities for a number of other forms of shopper engagement, including blockchain-powered giveaways or digital games similar to Monopoly at McDonald’s or other promotions. Using the blockchain to power giveaways, coupons, and other promotions would greatly reduce the ability for counterfeiters to defraud the company while also reducing printing costs and other expenses associated with paper-only promotions.

Other options include using the blockchain to track customer spending and offer location-specific discounts or otherwise reward shoppers from frequenting the same stores to achieve your shopper loyalty objectives.