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Smartphone shows an augmented reality image of a wooden object on top of a white surface

AR shopping


We’ve been expecting augmented and mixed reality to revolutionise our shopping experiences for well over a decade now. While there is some AR around, the key promises of how augmentation can help the customer are still very topical for the retail industry. Augmentation is about adding dynamic and interactive digital elements to real-life views. These elements can be viewed through mobile devices, smart glasses or even holographic displays. Voice assistance in the cityscape and store are of interest, too. The boundaries between digital and real worlds are dissolving. AR can really make a difference to the customer when used for something other than mindless advertising. It can help them find products that fit their dietary, ethical, economic or lifestyle needs. It allows them to “unbox products” in the store, examine the product’s journey to the shop and really grasp what it’s made of.

In addition to enriching the brick and mortar stores, augmentation helps online customers try out things at home: makeup, jewellery, accessories, and clothes, and to examine how textiles, objects and furniture would fit in their home.

Next steps

Augmentation is far too good an idea to waste on advertising and attention-seeking. It’s an important opportunity to create services that make shopping more educational, entertaining and efficient.


  • See how AR can help in health, safety and a contactless economy
  • Recognize AR also as a means of collecting data that can help you better understand your customers’ preferences
  • Consider AR in customer-facing marketing, education and support for enriched services and experiences, both individual and social
  • Look for examples how AR has been used in store design and enhancement, in loyalty programs and gamification