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Remember when you were trying to decide if having a website was important for your business? Yeah, it turned out to be important and you’ve been playing catch up ever since. Then, remember when you were scratching your head about social media and wondering why it mattered and why it was important? Uh-huh. That turned out to be pretty important too and you’ve missed the opportunity of driving all kinds of traffic to your outdated website for pennies.
So now what? You’ve got marketing experts telling you that you need thousands of dollars to update your website and you’re supposed to outsource your social media to someone who doesn’t really understand your business or your customers.
Neither of these options sounds appealing. And here you still are, shaking your head about how to get more customers into your business.
Here’s an idea.
Leapfrog to an Augmented Reality eCommerce Platform
I started this article with old conversations about websites and social media for a reason. I wanted to remind you of the typical ways we look at new technologies and how waiting to implement a new technology can really hurt you.
Sure, early adopters might make a few mistakes, but early marketing platform adopters also benefit from significantly lower customer acquisition costs and more market share because there isn’t a lot of competition. And when there isn’t a lot of competition, customers flock to those companies who have new technologies that make buying products and services faster and easier.
This is exactly the case with Augmented Reality eCommerce Platforms right now. These mobile driven platforms are ideal for small businesses who may have missed out on fancy website design and low-cost social media advertising.
Here’s a quick primer on Augmented Reality, eCommerce and how to have your own augmented reality eCommerce platform driving new customers to your business.
What is Augmented Reality and How Can it Help Me Get More Customers?
“Augmented reality is a set of technologies that superimposes digital data and images on the physical world, promises to close this gap and release untapped and uniquely human capabilities. Augmented Reality will impact businesses of all sizes, from universities to social enterprises. In the coming months and years, it will transform how we learn, make decisions, and interact with the physical world. It will also change how enterprises serve customers, train employees, design and create products, and manage their value chains, and, ultimately, how they compete.
(Harvard Business Review)
Augmented reality has been around for quite a while now. If you drive a luxury vehicle, it probably has a “heads up” display. That’s augmented reality.
If your teen is constantly posting images on SnapChat with rainbows streaming out of their mouth or with some kind of animal face superimposed on their picture, that’s augmented reality.
If you have an app like Wayfair, Home Depot or IKEA installed on your smartphone and have superimposed furniture into your living room or pointed your phone at a wall you want to pain and superimposed a color just to see what it looks like — that’s augmented reality.
You may not be familiar with the phrase augmented reality – but you’ve probably interacted with the technology more than once.
But here’s the exciting part! Now, this augmented reality technology isn’t just for companies with huge technical teams and marketing budgets, now you and your small business can actually use this technology to attract more new customers and set yourself apart from competitors who haven’t figured out this “leapfrogging” strategy.
7 Ways Your Small Business Can Use Augmented Reality to Get New Customers
Browse catalogs: Why build a clumsy online catalog when you can upload your products into an augmented reality platform and give your customers the ability to see all the different products that you have available.
Try Before You Buy: If you are a retailer, hair salon, landscaper or remodeler, this is a wonderful way to give your customers the opportunity to visualize your product in their personal space. Once they’ve experienced the product in their space, they are more likely to make a purchase.
Sell – Sell – Sell : Once your customer has experienced your product or service for themselves, your augmented reality platform can actually process the sale and update your inventory!
Provide Instruction and support: If you are a manufacturer or you have a business that has any component of a DIY element, you can create augmented reality instructions and guides to help your customers install or use your product.
Match customer’s wants with your product options: In the same way that the paint store can color match a custom paint color from an object, an augmented reality app can match any picture of a product that your customers bring in to something similar that you carry. Now, you’ve saved them the runaround
Help customers decide and choose: Anyone who has gone through a major remodel or who has built a new home knows that the choices can be overwhelming and often double your budget and timeline. An augmented reality platform can help customers choose options that best meet their needs and their budget. Not only can this type of application improve customer experience, it will help you practically guarantee that your customers will get what they want on time and on budget.
Tours and Teleconferencing: How many of your competitors can have a teleconference where your customers can interact with a life-like image of their kitchen remodel or new home? Imagine your customers being able to go on a tour of their new home at a conference table with measurements, budgets and timelines are clearly superimposed in each room.
Want to see even more interesting applications of augmented reality applications for small business?
How to Start Your Augmented Reality Strategy
It’s all about streamlining the customer experience. Focus on outlining exactly what problems your customers have that you can solve, how you solve it and what information an augmented reality platform can provide. Here’s a simple worksheet you can use to get started.
Explore existing platforms. There are a couple of choices here; you can hire a developer to work with or you can find a simple existing platform that you can integrate quickly and easily. This is the direction I’m recommending because hiring a developer can get really expensive. UpWork (a favorite platform of mine for finding talent) throws out a rough estimate of about $20,000.
Instead, take some time to educate yourself on augmented reality ecommerce platforms. They aren’t all the same. The best augmented reality ecommerce platform for small businesses like yours will have the following attributes:
- Available on iOS and Android
- Plug and play. You should be able to go to a simple portal, add your information and launch.
- Integrate with standard, simple eCommerce platforms such as Stripe or Authorize.net.
- Allow for easy estimates, invoicing and purchasing
- Integrate with WordPress website with a plugin
- Allow for secure payments for customers
One platform that has all of these features is Dezdy.com. I’ve been doing a bit of research in this area and have been hard-pressed to find another platform that is as plug and play as this one.
One other tip is to check customer reviews for the platforms that you’re looking at. A great source for augmented reality platforms is Capterra. Here’s a Dezdy.com review that I found.
I specifically looked at the “type” of business. In this case it was a pizza shop – a true main street business. I also liked what he wrote about the Dezdy team. That tells me their support is good. So this isn’t just a fly-by-night platform. They have happy customers who are small business owners “just like me”
Start building your product catalog information: This is probably easier said than done. I’ve done this with a client who wanted to create a simple online catalog and compiling the images and specifications for several dozen products turned out to be a tedious nightmare of a process. It’s a good idea to get this process started and have at least a few dozen products with accompanying specifications and pricing set up and ready to go.
Capture audio and video: Do you already have video tutorials, instructional or demo videos for products? Start collecting and cataloging them and use them as part of your augmented reality platform.
Get an Early Start on Augmented Reality and Get More Customers
Over the last several years I’ve worked with a handful of main street businesses that included real estate companies, remodelers, awards companies as well as software companies. Every single one of my clients had several things in common:
- Their website was miserably out of date.
- They had limited if any social media presence
- They didn’t really have a solid sales process or organization – the owner was doing the bulk of the selling.
The most difficult part of working with businesses like this is that I have to tell them that they need about $15,000 in the bank to fix and update their neglected online marketing. Many of them simply don’t have the fortitude or resources for that. As a result, they fall further and further behind. They become invisible to potential customers and their business begins a slow and steady decline.
Leapfrogging to ready-to-use augmented reality ecommerce platform is an outstanding way to create a direct line between you and your customer, engage them with your product or service and generate fast sales without putting your business at risk.