How can kiwi business owners deploy AR/VR to engage more customers?

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Cat Mules

Opportunities to deploy AR/VR in customer experience initiatives are expanding radically. Here are four key areas.

From virtual safari trips, diving the ocean depths, and even floating the cosmos with Kate Moss, augmented and virtual experiences, anywhere, anytime, are radically transforming how we experience the world.

Business leaders need to see the potential and plan for this transition right now.

Here are four key ways AR/VR adds value.

1. Experiences – on-demand

The opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ is gaining traction.

Want to see how that top will look with those shoes before clicking “buy”? Plug in and check it out. Want to get an idea about what colour rug to buy for your living room? Plug it in and compare the range. Want to visit a virtual showroom and check out the latest Porsche – which model and colour to choose? Plug in and fantasize!

Customers can view the Ford showroom using virtual reality glasses.

The ‘try it first’ augmented reality approach is even suitable for those online sales situations where personal fit is important.  Brands like SephoraL’Oreal, and Perfect Corp are all creating augmented reality experiences that allow their customers to apply the range digitally, and model the product on themselves.

2. Deepening brand engagement

The AR/VR experience is becoming more interactive by the day. Innovative opportunities for your brand or product can be found anywhere where video can be used.

Used strategically, AR/VR helps consumers learn about products and services in participatory and fun ways.  Brands can communicate their missions and messages more immersively, with consumers preferring an interactive storytelling approach.

AR/VR is no longer limited to visual/design oriented industries such as engineering, manufacturing and architecture. Now healthcare, retail, aviation, automotive, food and beverages are looking to bring AR/VR into the customer experience. Just as real estate can turn ‘For Sale’ signs into virtual home tours, schools are using virtual learning tools to interact with students. Restaurants can make coupons sizzle as a juicy cheeseburger ‘appears’ to tempt hungry consumers.

Walmart has created a totally immersive VR in-store shopping experience.

Beyond building brand awareness, AR/VR facilitates compelling lead magnets, too, as we connect more with our customers across different touchpoints. Offers for extra and more entertaining experiences will help power up calls to action. Serenity Thompson, Director of boutique advisory firm, A23 Advisors, and Forbes Contributor has commented that “Visitors will get a taste of the virtual experience, then be asked to opt in for a progressively deeper experience. The final CTA would be to purchase, subscribe or schedule the next step.”

3. Presenting your services in advance

Applications or interactive maps – now virtual – will allow customers to explore possible destinations prior to making a booking.  In the travel industry, vacationers can travel virtually to different locations to explore museums, check out hotel rooms and even trial a cruise before deciding.


Guests can consider a room before they commit, with virtual hotel room tours like this one from Siview.

Emerging virtual ways of previewing products apply to professional services too. 

Firms that relied on success stories and testimonials to attract new clients can now set up virtual tours and personalised interviews. Randy Shattuck, head of cyber security engineering firm, the Shattuck Group, has explained, “The VR equivalent in the future might just be a trip around the office of a firm before you hire them. This could give prospective clients a better feel for the provider.”

4. Developing your product

Virtual experiences can bring teams together in the development and design stages – this can reduce costs and excess wastage.

Automobile industry brands such as PeugeotBMWJaguar and Ford are using VR in the development of prototypes, enabling car designers from remote locations to collaborate, limiting expenses in developing prototypes that then need to be discarded.

Ford’s 3D VR tool enables designers to come up with more human-centric designs, with a co-creation feature to collaborative across locations in real-time to review sketches and make important decisions earlier in the design process.

Ford Design Manager, Michael Smith, has explained, ”The Co-Creation feature adds more voices to the conversation”, and this “results in more efficient design work that may help accelerate a vehicle program’s development”.


The signs are there: AR/VR is the way of the future. It’s a match made in heaven: customers have access to experiences that are individualised, interactive and accessible, while brands are getting greater opportunities to be seen and heard. The key will be connecting the relevant experience with the right customer.

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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

Business process/Robotic Automation & Power Automate

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Microsoft Power Platform combines the robust power of PowerApps, PowerBI,  and Power Automate into one powerful business application platform to achieve process automation –  providing quick and easy app building and data insights. Each component of the Microsoft Power Platform is built on the Common Data Service for Apps. Each component is dynamic by itself, but brilliant and masterful when combined. Robotic Process Automation is the technology that allows anyone today to configure computer software, or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process. RPA robots utilise the user interface to capture data and manipulate applications just like humans do. They interpret, trigger responses and communicate with other systems in order to perform on a vast variety of repetitive tasks. Only substantially better: an RPA software robot never sleeps and makes zero mistakes.  

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