Augmented Reality for Ecommerce
The digital age has led to an abundance of new merchants who thrive on selling online, directly to the consumer. As retailers begin to focus on creating a cohesive experience both online and offline, technology has been vital in attracting online shoppers through engaging eCommerce experiences, particularly through augmented reality (AR).
Augmented reality is allowing retailers to offer a more personal, interactive experience that will change the way we shop forever. Before diving into augmented reality’s presence in eCommerce let’s discuss how virtual reality as well as augmented reality have impacted online shopping.
In recent years, eCommerce has seen considerable success and is now, by and large, an integral part of our lifestyles. In fact, in 2015, online shopping giant Amazon eclipsed the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, in terms of valuation.
Given the convenience of online shopping, the variety of available choices and the unbelievable discounts, it’s still surprising that conversion rates in online shopping range from 2% to 4%. These rates are not even close to conversion rates of brick-and-mortar retailers, which land between 20% to 40%, accounting for a sales value of $3.9 trillion in the U.S.
Yes, online shopping does come with its own set of perks, but it deprives shoppers of the advantages to shopping in-store. Ecommerce consumers do not get to actually see the product, feel it or evaluate it personally. Based on the reputation of the retailer and the product’s reviews, consumers trust that the shipped product is exactly how they saw it. No wonder reviews and return policies are so important in the era of eCommerce!
However, with the increasing popularity around Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, this scenario is expected to change.
Virtual Reality for Retail
Virtual Reality provides the user with an immersive experience, usually through the help of a VR headset, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or a Samsung Gear, among other options. There are numerous examples of brick-and-mortar retailers using VR to enhance interactivity between the products and the user. At outlets of Tommy Hilfiger and AT&T, you can try a VR headset and watch 360-degree runway shows or go on a virtual Carnival cruise.
Other brands are escaping the friction that comes along with VR and leveraging 360 video experiences solely. NARS cosmetics, the famous French cosmetics company. It utilized Facebook 360 to create 360-degree videos of makeup tutorials that you can watch right in your Facebook news feed. The user is virtually seated in a room and can watch beauticians applying makeup to models. And what’s more exciting? This doesn’t even require VR headsets.
Augmented Reality for Ecommerce
The growth of Augmented Reality (AR) is presenting a different kind of experience. AR takes the idea of an immersive experience a step ahead, by blending together these virtual objects with your surrounding environment, in real-time.
Many companies are working on the development of a headset that can render projections into our reality but with the advancement of AR through smartphones, augmented reality has seen a real opportunity in eCommerce. In the not-so-distant future, we can expect AR headsets to show you how outfits would fit on you before you even have them in hand. Decorating your new home, trying on new makeup, and even seeing how complex products function are all uses that augmented reality is positioned to address for eCommerce retailers.
Innovation in retail seeks to provide value to both brands and retailers alike but none have been as impactful throughout the buyer’s journey like augmented reality. AR is positioned to increase sales by allowing customers to try before buying and, in turn, reduce returns by removing the initial guesswork. Customers want to know what they’re purchasing and AR is helping customers become more confident in their buying decisions while providing quantifiable differences for online merchants.
The future of the omnichannel experience will rely heavily on augmented reality and it is already adding more value in getting shoppers to engage on retailer’s mobile platforms as well as driving in-store traffic. Brand manufacturers will indeed have a huge stake in the future of augmented commerce. As eCommerce evolves, so will consumer expectations. Product descriptions and 360 photos will no longer suffice. Mobile shoppers will want and expect the ability to test products at home before buying through augmented reality.
Create an Engaging Buying Experience
“61% of shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer augmented reality, over ones that don’t” – Retail Perceptions
While shopping online, a customer has to imagine and interpret what an item would feel like in their hands, or look like in their home. AR technology helps overcome this online buyer’s challenge by bringing a physical presence to online shopping.
Modify or Customize Selections
Augmented reality makes it easy for consumers to explore their options and make personalized modifications while online shopping. With retailers who offer augmented reality, shoppers can change the color of furniture they’re looking to buy to see how it looks in their home first.
“77% of shoppers want to use augmented reality to see product differences such as a change in color or style” – Retail Perceptions
Visualize or Understand Products and Features
Both online shoppers and in-store customers wish that they could interact with a product to get a feel of how it works before heading to the cashier. Augmented reality is allowing shoppers to trigger animations to show how complex products like appliances or electronics work and function.