You’re probably thinking AR is something you see in sci-fi movies and while it’s cool, it has no relevance to your business. But whether you run a retail chain or a single restaurant, there’s an AR application that could change the way you interact with your customers.

So now you’re wondering if this is just a novelty or if it’s going to pay off. Using AR enables brands and retailers to tell stories that weren’t possible before because the images and videos couldn’t be reconciled without the added reality. Having the ability to bring a story to life extends beyond flat visuals to videos, interactive experiences, 3D models, and interactive maps, which can all attract attention.

This opens up new possibilities for brands using AR. Fortune magazine cited the AR market growing tenfold to $360 million in 2020, while research firm Grand View Research forecasts AR revenue to grow 20% annually from now until 2022. With a healthy opening quarter of 2021, AR-related companies saw record-breaking Q1 revenue for the third consecutive quarter.

Fashion retailers can successfully leverage AR within physical stores. Using AR, customers enjoy having the ability to see merchandise from different shelves in the store and explore options more easily based on what they’re looking at. They can explore the different styles of clothing on display, which helps the shopper decide what style fits their personal fit and style best. Users can also see and try out the newer augmented reality products that are available in store.

For restaurants, AR tools can help add to the immersive experience and create directed marketing. A restaurant could use an AR app to allow patrons to see menu items being prepared before they arrive, for example, or to pair wine with their meal in an interactive way, thus creating a more exciting and lively dining environment. There are many AR ideas being used for food preparation, delivery, and storage. In the kitchen, using three- dimensional models of food items could allow for more efficient activity and packaging, and new options could be added to the cooking process.

And now, the numbers. Almost 20 percent of consumers have experienced AR in the retail and hospitality environment already. And close to 40 percent say they expect to encounter more AR in the way they shop in the next couple of years. Whether it’s from an increase in sales or a reduction in returns, there’s a clear impact on the bottom line.

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