For Some Shoppers, AR Looks Like a Way to Avoid Stores

Nearly one-third would eschew clothing retailers if technology made that possible

Not many shoppers have used augmented reality for shopping, but plenty are interested and some say they would be just as happy to avoid clothing stores altogether if the technology made that possible.

According to a new Adtaxi survey, about 10% of US internet users have used an AR app or feature that lets them virtually try on apparel or view furniture in their homes. But 45.0% would be interested in trying out the technology.

Meanwhile, the survey found that roughly 30% of respondents said they wouldn't bother going to clothing stores ever again—if AR made that possible.

But as the Adtaxi data suggests, AR is still relatively little used by consumers. We estimate that 15.5% of the US population are AR users. The penetration rate is growing at a healthy clip, but it's expected to reach just 20.2% by 2020. AR/VR professionals are aware of current shortcomings. According to a Perkins Coie survey, user experience and the quality of available content remain primary obstacles to mass adoption.

Still, shoppers are intrigued by applications like AR-enabled clothes shopping experiences, and other studies have found widespread expectation that AR capabilities are likely to expand rapidly.  Those who are already using AR and VR regularly see significant changes coming soon. In a January survey, Ericsson found that the majority of current AR and VR users believe it will be possible, in as little as three years, for the technologies to replicate the benefits of in-store shopping directly on a smartphone.