Augmented Reality has been a slow burner – until now, when Pokemon Go hit the UK. The game, in which players catch virtual characters living in the real world, has snared the Pikachu generation looking to re-live their youth, but writing it off as a time-sink for Nintendo nostalgics would be a mistake.

Its trick of delivering players to specific points on the globe is an easy one to emulate on a more localised scale. Particularly, in-store.

There’s only so many gondola ends you can build in a retail unit, but limits of that sort don’t apply in the virtual world. With Augmented Reality – AR – you can signpost offers throughout a store using a regular Apple or Android phone running your own application.

An AR app is no more difficult to use than a phone’s built-in camera. Once launched, the customer only needs to lift it up and view the store they’re standing in through their smartphone screen. The app will overlay the live image with floating markers, defined by the retailer to relate to specific products or areas within the store. Each marker will be accompanied by an offer or other inducement to make a purchase or find out more information.

To put this into context, a supermarket might want to run a promotion on free-range eggs. Traditionally, this is handled by on-shelf graphics, but with augmented reality it can be advertised in several spots around the store without making the aisles look cluttered.

It’s up to the retailer where it sites its ‘virtual’ offers, and in this instance it might choose the bakery, baking and breakfast aisles by tagging loaves, flour and crumpets with details of the deal. Should a customer use an augmented reality app to look at any of those products, they’d see an inducement to buy fresh eggs, as they’re a logical companion to each of them.

Better yet, the store can tailor the message to its own requirements using anything from a single line of text to an animated, talking character.

Driving adoption of radical sales tools like this is notoriously difficult, but in this instance, much of the hard work has already been done. Most UK shoppers already carry a smartphone, and many  use retailer apps to collect loyalty points and discounts. Rolling AR features into these trusted applications means many will adopt them entirely passively. And by pairing them with in-store beacons, which can track a customer’s movements by following their phone around the outlet, it’s possible to monitor the different overlays’ effectiveness for real-time refinement.

Pokemon Go is the first app to bring AR to the masses, and presents a rare opportunity for retail to hitch a ride on a fast-moving bandwagon at very low cost and, thanks to our existing app infrastructure, in short order.

Gotta Catch ’em All, as the Pokémon slogan goes. Isn’t it time you applied that to your customers? Call us today on +44 1483 799 200 or Talk to us today to discuss how we can make your plans an (augmented) reality.