Woman uses augmented reality virtual or reality technology on worksite
A small business doesn’t need a huge budget to creatively use augmented or virtual reality to enhance their operations and customer experience. — Getty Images/Nikola Stojadinovic

Augmented and virtual reality products continue to dominate the global market. The industry is expected to reach a compound annual growth rate of over 151% by 2024, which means now is the time for small businesses to invest in this quickly evolving and useful technology. This is especially true in the post-pandemic world, where consumers have become accustomed to all-digital brand experiences.

“[During COVID-19], people were shopping and searching for services like never before, and [they] came to realize just how stagnant many websites are,” said Kenneth Hearn, fund manager and head of research at SwissOne Capital AG. “AR/VR, or ‘mixed reality,’ can easily solve this by creating a virtual version of the in-store or in-shop experience. This can also allow small businesses that offer unique, regional experiences to be truly available anywhere in the world for the first time.”

Fortunately, an organization doesn’t need a huge budget to make good use of augmented or virtual reality. Here are some creative, real ways small businesses can use augmented and virtual reality to enhance their operations and customer experience.

[Read more: Augmented and Virtual Reality: Uses for Small Business]

AR-enhanced business cards

When you embed AR functionality into your business card, networking contacts can scan and interact with it through added components. Additional digital features can be simple, such as a video message from your CEO talking about the business, or more complex, like a mini-game or an interactive view of your full product line.

Sampling experiences through AR and VR

Scott Kirsner, CEO and co-founder of Innovation Leader, foresees augmented and virtual reality becoming the new “try before you buy.” Companies like Google have already made it easy to create 360-degree VR-powered tours, and this technology will only continue to advance in the future.

“Think about a realtor giving a tour of a house that exists as a 3D digital model — it could be built already, or currently under construction,” said Kirsner. “A car salesman — human or AI — could get into a digital car with you and talk you through some of the features. There might even be stylists who could talk to you about the best look for you, help you try on different clothes or haircuts, without needing to be in the same room.”

Kirsner noted that AR technology can help consumers navigate the world and make more informed choices.

“You can already see what digital furniture looks like when placed in your living room, or look at a pair of digital shoes on your feet,” Kirsner told CO—. “If you're selling physical products like that, you ought to be thinking about what types of tasks consumers might want to do at home before they call or email or visit your store.”

[Read More: How AR and VR Can Help Your Business]

A car salesman — human or AI — could get into a digital car with you and talk you through some of the features. There might even be stylists who could talk to you about the best look for you, help you try on different clothes or haircuts, without needing to be in the same room.

Scott Kirsner, CEO and co-founder of Innovation Leader

VR safety training

Not all AR and VR small business tools have to be customer facing. Many businesses have found success using VR for safety training. By having employees use VR headsets, they can interact with a virtual copy of their work environment and get hands-on experience without any risk to their safety or the equipment.

VR for remote recruitment

Recently, hiring managers have been using VR to expand their candidate pool to prospective employees outside their locations. Through VR, recruiters can offer simulated office and facility tours for candidates, giving them a first-hand view of the work environment and culture. The immersive experience allows these candidates to visualize themselves working in this environment and see their role within the company without having to be physically present.

VR also saves organizations money on recruiting top-tier talent. If a highly sought-after candidate resides in a different city, a company no longer has to foot the bill for their expenses to get them to interview in person. VR offers the ability to see the office first-hand and even be interviewed in a “face-to-face” setting.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published July 13, 2021