The future of augmented reality as a retail space planning tool

Clare Montgomery
Retail Insight by Clare Montgomery Head of Operations 01/09/2016

On the back of Pokémon Go - this blog explores how augmented reality can be used in retail space planning and design


Argos mock up

How augmented reality can aid retail design

Pokémon Go has propelled augmented reality (AR) into mainstream culture. Users have downloaded the gaming app multi millions of times, since its launch in July 2016. But while it might be fun to play, it’s the AR technology underpinning the Nintendo product that is really exciting the business world.

Augmented Reality (AR) superimposes a computer-generated image on a real-world perspective to create an interactive, composite view. This technology has huge potential as a powerful tool for business – not least the retail planning sector.

The exciting prospective is how AR can merge actual and virtual in-store worlds, imposing new products, signage, equipment, branding and visual merchandise into an actual setting.

We are currently working with a number of companies in the retail sector who have spotted the exciting potential of augmented reality. Each company is using AR to address a specific business challenge and as a result are seeing tangible benefits and a return on investment.

What are the potential advantages of augmented reality and retail space planning?

  • AR can merge an actual and virtual in-store environment making potential changes easier to understand and visualise.
  • Traditionally, retailers have used mock stores or artists impressions to help them judge whether or not to sign off new designs and concepts. AR has the potential to improve this decision making process and take it to a new level.
  • The technology is available right now and is considerably less expensive than mock-ups.
  • It’s far more realistic than full 3D visuals or virtual reality because staff can physically visit stores and use their tablet to walk visually through an augmented reality version of any changes.
  • Or staff can use StoreView® 360° panoramic store tours to walk through potential changes on screen without moving from their office desk.
  • Retailers can engage with the expertise of their in-store colleagues and managers. This will mean they feel more involved as well as making better use of their local knowledge, such as line-of-sight or security.
  • The technology is particularly useful for scenarios such as convenience store symbol groups where business development staff can show prospective store owners how their store might look with a new fascia.

Although it has just moved into public consciousness, AR has been around for many years and is now emerging from its experimental era to become a truly useful tool for retail space planners. The bets are on that it is likely to play an ever increasing role in future.

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