Tis’ the season for new technology- Target and Walmart invest in AR.

Brands are continuing to introduce new technology features in an effort to satisfy current customers and engage new ones during the holiday season. Both Walmart and Target have been leaders in this space after using augmented reality (AR) to create immersive Christmas shopping experiences.

Walmart have teamed up with a large variety of brands including Clorox, Kellogg’s, Pepsi, Nickelodeon and M&M’s to create the AR experience. Customers are invited to scan Zapcodes in store to activate AR games and promotions sponsored by these brands in an attempt to encourage customers to visit in-store for a fun and exciting shopping journey.

Target, on the other hand, have used AR to enhance the company’s online shopping experience. Target US has released a new 360-degree “see in your space” feature so that customers can visualise holiday-themed décor, furniture and home products to scale in their very own home and then make the purchase in-app. They have also released six unique virtual holiday rooms that customers can shop from (see below), with everything from trees to couches, pillows and decorations. While this virtual shopping feature is by no means groundbreaking after the release of apps like IKEA Place, this is still a great step forward for Target as many brands are still yet to engage with AR capabilities.

Image Source:  Target

Image Source: Target

Target’s 360-degree shoppable rooms feature. Image Source:  Target

Target’s 360-degree shoppable rooms feature. Image Source: Target

The common thread between these AR ventures is that technology is increasingly becoming a differentiator amongst retailers. What Target and Walmart have realised is that experimenting with technology, in this case AR, is a worthy investment. The features may not be at their best now, however it’s only a matter of time before these features become even more advanced.

While it can’t be expected that all retailers engage with AR technology, particularly smaller retailers, it is important to remember that technology does not have to be a far-off scary milestone. It needs to be introduced slowly and carefully so that there is time for the technology to be implemented correctly and improved. AR may not be a priority at this point for some retailers and that’s ok. However, this doesn’t mean that technology should be avoided altogether.

Technology is a key enabler when it comes to providing the optimal shopping experience, and retailers need to determine what this optimal experience looks like for them so that the right strategies can be put into place.