What is AR and how can small businesses benefit?

Updated: Jul 4

The good news for small businesses is that agencies like ours are embracing the technology an putting all our skills to good use, but first we're kinda throwing the rule book out of the window. We have to dream big, think big and produce big. Not in scale alone but often in value set, appearance, connection and more. It's an exciting time to be in business because it's a time of change.

Last year there were 46.4 million smartphone users in the UK alone and with mobile data packages, open wifi and hotspots now the norm, the time is right for AR experiences to thrive. What do we mean by AR experiences? If you've not seen it yet Take a look at the Yorkshire Tea video below.

Yorkshire Tea bringing the printed page to life...

AR or Augmented reality is an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device such as a smartphone camera. It's relatively new, it's fun, it's flexible but the real question is - Is it for you business?

It can make the mundane outstanding.

You can link AR buttons to your communication channels. Let's say you wanted people to call you. When they zap the code one of the options is a floating telephone button which they can call or they can add you to their contacts. Or you could auto play your elevator pitch directly from your YouTube channel.

It can help you connect to customers in ways you would not otherwise be able to do

This is a trackable technology and so we have access to how people are engaging with the diverse AR experiences. The good news is the sheer joy of the product gets people engaging again and again.

It's ability to be used on a wide range of mediums digital, flat print bus shelters, clothing, merchandise etc means you can reach people where they are.

It can help you education your customers or staff

You can store all those important staff training notes or product data sheets in PDF's on your website, put a poster up with the code on and staff can check them out directly from their smartphones. No printing, no excuses, straight in front of them how you want them to see it. If you need to change it, just change it on the site the code will automatically be up to date. This will save you time and money.

Where can I use it?

The answer is anywhere that people are mobile but not fast paced. If you put it on the side of a bus or lorry chances are the vehicle will have moved away before you can say studio and the opportunity is missed. They can be used indoors or out and can be placed on a wide variety of mediums. There are limitations (we can talk you through those) but get it right and you can create something really innovative. They work well on print such as posters - making the Harry Potter style posters a real thing. You can use them for desktop applications but we already have the fast hyperlink technology well established so people are unlikely to whip out their phone when they can just click from the desktop.

One of the notable exceptions to this I believe is presentations. You know the bit where the speaker says you can download more information - and a whole list of codes appears. Or the speaker says I will send you the slides through and a couple of weeks after you've forgotten about it an email arrives. Having a code directly on a slide and by default the big screen, delegates can easily access all the information they need. There and then, on the most influential gadget in history - the smartphone.


One of the biggest barriers for SME's hoping to use AR is the cost. Sure you can throw lots of money at it but it is possible to use AR on a low budget. The answer is yes. An AR code can be created from as low as £30 and for a small monthly subscription (currently £5) this code can be maintained or changed as your needs change. This won't give you an amazing immersive experience but it will give you really cool stuff your customers will like and you can monitor. You will need to already have a communication channel such as Facebook or a website - if you have these already you are good to go.

Lufthansa bringing the travel experience to your smartphone...

We've identified 37 ways you can use AR codes in your business - there will be more. Here are my current 3 favourite applications.

  • Posters carrying an AR code help youngsters learn practical skills via YouTube tutorials.

  • Supermarket Giant Asda creates Easter fun for kids with a AR treasure hunt

  • An interactive book cover

If you want to talk with us about the possibilities for your business and how you might fund using the technology - you can book a telephone consultation with me or one of our advisers.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Sharon x