Right-sizing the impact of new technologies on digital strategies has proven to be a challenge for marketers, many of whom were caught behind the seismic impact of mobile on the consumer experience.

L2’s recent Content and Commerce Report looks at key emerging technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and chatbots, which brands are currently looking to deploy in order to enhance customer interactions across the conversion funnel.  And while 2016 was a banner year for VC investment in VR/AR Tech – VC’s poured  $2 billion into VR/AR startups last year, 3x what was invested in 2015 – adoption by brands remains low. Of the over 90 brands indexed for L2’s Content and Commerce report, only 5% currently leverage chat bots on Facebook messenger.

However, a strong case can be made for the use of these “next gen” technologies. By offering features like virtual product trials and automated customer service, brands can recreate important aspects of the in-store shopping experience online at scale.

While best practices are still surfacing and adoption remains low, innovative brands have differentiate themselves with emerging technologies like augmented reality. Sephora, for example, launched an in-app virtual tutorial that uses the smartphone camera to demonstrate makeup techniques on a user’s face. The app also allows users to try on products virtually and play with different looks before committing to the purchase. These investments have paid off—the Sephora Makeup and Beauty Shopping app has a 4.5 star rating and over 13,000 reviews. Big Box brands have also experimented with in-app augmented reality. The Lowe’s In-Store Navigation app uses augmented reality to help shoppers find products inside stores and offers robust product information, while IKEA mobile app users can use augmented reality to place furniture in their home.

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