What it is: To give customers an added incentive to visit and stay in their latest Starbucks in Shanghai, Starbucks is using augmented reality.
Most people have heard of augmented reality through the popular Pokemon Go game where you look for Pokemon cartoon characters hiding in the real world around you. While it’s easy to see how augmented reality can work in games, it’s not as obvious how to use augmented reality to be profitable in business.
Starbucks in Shanghai may have found a way to make augmented reality profitable. The company recently opened the world’s latest Starbucks in Shanghai. To make this store more memorable, they offer an augmented reality experience where customers can point their iPhone at different parts of the tore to see how the equipment works. For example, customers can aim their iPhone at a roaster and see further explanation for how that equipment works to make Starbucks coffee.
Obviously this won’t make augmented reality profitable but it shows how augmented reality can be a technical gimmick to make a Starbucks store more memorable. This will help attract more people curious about trying this feature and spending time in the store. The more people who show up in the store, the more likely they’ll buy something so augmented reality is a way to help attract more customers.
This use of augmented reality isn’t directly profitable but indirectly profitable. Take away augmented reality and you risk striping away the store part of its “cool” factor and give people less of a reason to visit. Now the big question is who will be the first company to create a profitable business from augmented reality that generates profits directly?
Augmented reality is still in its evolutionary phase where people are still experimenting with its potential and trying to understand what it can do before finding ways to apply it in business. Starbucks is simply showing one way to make augmented reality an educational and promotional experience.
Just as mobile phones used to be a luxury and now have become a necessity, so will augmented reality one day go from a gimmick in business to a necessity like a website or social media account. augmented reality is already here and the iPhone is leading the way. As augmented reality grows in popularity, expect the iPhone to maintain and extend its lead even further. What does that mean for Android? They better catch up in a hurry and they will out of necessity, but the iPhone will still be the leader offering the best augmented reality experience around.