Augmented Reality for e-commerce and online shopping

Many brands around the world have started incorporating Augmented Reality in e-commerce. It helps brands to create unique, innovative and immersive experiences by tapping into a smartphone camera. In this article, we are going to talk about Augmented Reality and the future of e-commerce and online shopping.

What is Augmented Reality?

Unlike the full immersion of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality or AR overlays digital objects in the physical world using smartphone camera sensors such as an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer. These sensors can also be found in AR glasses such as Epson’s Moverio BT-350 or Hololens 2.

How is AR used for e-commerce?

Virtual Try-on

AR is a great tool to help customers try products at home. Whether it’s a shoe, a piece of jewelry or a handbag, virtual try-on eliminates the need to visit a physical store and it enables confident purchase decisions.

Further, many times, shop-owners find it difficult to showcase all the products due to inventory shortage. This is where AR 3D models can be stored on a digital library and showcased whenever a consumer wants it.

Product visualization

Augmented Reality helps to bring e-commerce products to life. Consumers can visualize how the product would fit inside their home. For companies it can lead to a higher conversion rate and for consumers it can provide a novel way to interact with the brand.

Gamification

AR turns the traditional browsing experience into a fun and interactive gameplay, which keeps the consumers interested for a long period of time. Whether it’s a product launch or to increase brand awareness, AR can elevate consumers’ shopping experience, retain existing customers and generate new ones.

How brands are using AR in e-commerce

Nike

Nike has been using AR technology for its marketing campaigns. For its ‘House of Innovation’ store in New York, Nike provided shoppers with a gamified AR-based challenge. To activate the experience, shoppers can simply use their smartphone and scan the QR codes and AR markers across the store and discover virtual wildlife.

Sephora

Sephora allows its customers to virtually try- on various cosmetic products before making a purchase. This can mitigate buyer’s remorse and purchase anxiety as customers can preview the product beforehand and make an informed decision.

Ikea

Ikea uses AR technology for its ‘Place app’. Using the app, users can check 3D renderings of more than 2000 products. For example, if you are buying a new chair for your living room, but aren’t sure how it would look, you can overlay the chair using the AR app, rotate and move to check how it would fit.

Benefits of AR in e-commerce

According to a Neilsen global survey from 2019, consumers listed Augmented and Virtual Reality as the top technologies they’re seeking to assist them in their daily lives. Here are some of the benefits of AR in e-commerce.

Elevate consumer experience

AR can become an anchor to elevate the experience for customers during shopping. It allows users to rotate, scale, and drag the AR object. Brands embracing AR can clearly highlight their value proposition and connect with consumers on an emotional level.

Reduce return-rate with AR for e-commerce

Consumers returned an estimated $428 billion in merchandise to retailers last year, approximately 10.6 percent of total U.S. retail sales in 2020. Research by GetApp has found augmented reality marketing helps reduce product returns. For example, IKEA allows people to place furniture at home to analyse if the product is a good fit.

Higher conversion-rate AR for e-commerce

According to a report by Deloitte Digital and Snap Inc, interacting with products that have AR experiences leads to a 94 percent higher conversion rate. This is because AR allows people to make informed decisions. With the help of a smartphone camera, consumers can place a virtual object in the real world, analyse product information and access online reviews.

Less environmental impact with augmented reality

Augmented reality can help brands to visualize products in high-quality during the product design stages. This way, they can avoid the need to re-design and re-print prototypes, which can further reduce material wastage.

Customers can be engaged with meaningful product visualization without having to go to the store if brands use AR. Since people aren’t traveling to showrooms to buy a product, this can drastically reduce the carbon footprint.

How to implement AR for e-commerce?

Augmenting shopping or AR shopping has already started. Therefore, it is imperative for brands to implement technologies that can fuel growth and engagement within consumers. Here are a few delivery platforms that brands can start implementing.

WebAR

WebAR refers to website-based augmented reality experience which doesn’t require the need of an additional application. All you need to do is send a URL link to the consumer, it will request them to authorize the camera, then automatically scan the live environment and place a virtual object in the user’s real environment.

Marker-based AR

Brands can integrate various interactive and immersive experiences behind the QR code or an image. Once the users scans it, they can be redirected to a game, coupon, quizzes and other things. QR codes are scannable across various mediums such as television, newspaper, or laptop screens.

Markerless AR

As the name suggests, it doesn’t need a marker to launch an AR experience.
You can simply create an AR app for customers which automatically detects the live environment and places the digital environment on a flat surface or a wall.

Future of AR for e-commerce

The global augmented shopping market size was valued at USD 1.24 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47.1% from 2020 to 2027. About 8 in 10 customers already say that AR or VR would “somewhat” or “very likely” improve their shopping experience.

Going forward, we will see more luxury brands implementing AR technology for virtual try-ons. By doing this not only brands would tap into new digital channels but also attract growing youth cohorts who are more inclined to immersive technologies.

If you still have questions on which AR experience is better for your audience, kindly reach out to our team.

Tim Nijland
Tim Nijland
Enthusiasm, knowledge and a lot of passion. My main focus is everything XR related but anything in the realm of new technology makes my heart beat faster. I love to share my thoughts and talk about the many use cases of XR. Feel free to contact me at tim@vrowl.nl
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