The process of buying a complex, engineered-to-order industrial product can be grueling for your customers. Many factors may go into their purchase decision, such as:
Augmented reality can impact each of these considerations by transforming the way that customers think about and interact with your products. Whereas manufacturers have traditionally relied on product brochures or physical demonstrations to inform their customers, AR enables the delivery of guided virtual experiences, full of insightful product information and customization opportunities. For your customers, this means a faster, more convenient buying experience – with less friction throughout their purchase journey.
In this blog, we’ll detail three applications of augmented reality (AR) that can help to improve your customers’ buying experience.
Catalogs and brochures offer a detailed view into key product information, but they don’t provide the interactive, personalized experience that today’s customers desire and expect. Brick and mortar showrooms may offer a more engaging buying experience for customers who are willing to visit in-person, but they’re costly to maintain and restricted by inventory, store hours, and staff availability.
With augmented reality technology, your customers have access to a more convenient and insightful way to experience your products. Instead of flipping through a brochure or visiting a showroom, customers can use their mobile device or tablet to visualize a 3D model of your physical product and then learn how it works by consuming on-demand AR content. AR authoring solutions like Vuforia Studio make the creation and delivery of AR product experiences easy, by leveraging your existing CAD data to visually represent your products at scale. When it’s time to customize and enhance certain products, AR enables customers or sales representatives to quickly reconfigure the product design until it meets the customer’s specific business needs. As a result, that lengthy buying experience becomes faster, more collaborative, and more convenient for everyone involved.
Factory acceptance testing is a critical step to ensure that custom-built or engineered-to-order products meet a customer’s criteria and specifications before they’re shipped. For certain customers, this might mean visiting the actual manufacturing site to review product configurations or custom details in-person. However, on-site travel is not always a convenient or safe option, and if customers do visit, it can be disruptive and time-consuming.
Augmented reality provides customers and manufacturers with a more convenient, flexible, and safe method of conducting factory acceptance tests. Using an augmented remote assistance solution like Vuforia Chalk, customers can connect with someone at the manufacturing site, or anywhere else, for a detailed “see-what-I-see” product walkthrough. AR enables each person to draw real-time annotations onto their screens, so they can communicate visually with each other while discussing important product details, as if the customer themselves were physically on-site. With AR, customers can complete entire factory acceptance tests remotely, saving valuable time for all involved.
If buying one of your products forces your customers into a lengthy and cumbersome sales process, then the last thing they want to think about is an additional cost service program and eventual downtime to perform service and maintenance. Providing instructions for customers to perform that service themselves may alleviate some initial concerns about product maintenance and the associated costs, but the complexity of today’s products makes it challenging for customers to carry out service procedures confidently and successfully.
Augmented reality enables you to provide your customers with highly visual, on-demand work instructions for self-service that are easy for nearly anyone to follow. When a product does need service or maintenance, the customer can simply pull up a set of visual, step-by-step instructions on their mobile device, tablet, or AR headset and perform the procedure themselves, without the ambiguity of a paper manual. AR significantly improves the confidence of the person carrying out the procedure because it overlays the instructions directly onto their field of view, so they can see exactly what to do, how to do it, and even where to do it – in real-time, as they work. AR solutions such as Vuforia Expert Capture and Vuforia Studio allow you to build notifications and alerts directly into work instructions, so customers can easily perform service procedures with speed, accuracy, and safety.
Thinking like a customer can help you to identify pain points or roadblocks within your marketing and sales initiatives, many of which offer potential areas for improvement via digital transformation. Technologies like augmented reality provide greater convenience and flexibility throughout different interactions with your brand, which ultimately creates a better buying experience that customers are more likely to recommend or repeat.
Want to learn more about using augmented reality to create interactive product experiences? Check out our Industrial AR Buyer’s Guide.