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The rapid evolution of e-commerce has created a new sales channel for retailers that is giving brick and mortar stores a run for their money. Not only has e-commerce been profitable for business but also convenient and pleasing for consumers.

Despite the opportunity intrinsic to online retail and shopping, there are also some daunting challenges that companies must overcome in order to successfully sell products online.

The primary drawback to online shopping is that many of the sensory elements that customers use to make their purchasing decisions are often lost. When shopping online, a customer cannot touch or feel an item, see how it works, or know how it will fit in their home. The loss of this interactivity and presence in the shopping experience leads to uncertain buyers and more abandoned carts. 

Online Shopping AR - Augment

Additionally, shopping online inevitably involves a bit of guesswork from a consumer, which can lead to unsatisfied customers and company loss through increased return rates. In fact, according to research conducted by the National Retail Federation, merchandise returns in the U.S. represent nearly $16 billion of the retail market.

These pain points are constantly being addressed with innovation in retail, but augmented reality is sure to be a true difference maker. Retail has always been about engaging experiences with the right delivery (time and place). The evolution of E-commerce shows past milestones that have addressed these same worries with enough efficiency to make online shopping a consistent revenue channel for brands and stores. Still, as the digital era matures in how personalized it has become, consumers of all generations are expecting these experiences at the bare minimum. To continue this engaging experience in a way that provides value to both sides, augmented reality is helping shoppers visualize products they’d like to buy in the environment around them, in real-time. 

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The Advantages of AR in Retail

Many factors can contribute to a customer’s buying decision. However, there are three main driving forces of buyer uncertainty in online shopping that can be resolved beautifully and seamlessly with 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 transforming an imagination into a reality.

A customer who can accurately see how any product will actually feel in their environment, at-scale, will be able to purchase with more certainty and satisfaction.

Modify or Customize Selections

“77% of shoppers want to use augmented reality to see product differences such as a change in color or style” – Retail Perceptions

Before making a purchasing decision, customers often want to see various color selections and explore other modifications that might be available. Historically, customization options have been difficult for online retailers to convey to their consumers.

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.

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.

The future of augmented reality in retail will consider augmented reality SDKs like Augment’s SDK that allows retailers to leverage AR through their own, branded platforms.

This is a very exciting field with constant innovation on the horizon, solving today’s problems with the next platform of computing. Online retailers must realize that there is more to VR and AR than mere gaming. As futuristic as these “realities” feel, it’s all old school again ﹣the touch-and-try charm, just virtually!

Augment’s SDK, in particular, is built to integrate seamlessly into the retailer’s portal, allowing them to leverage product visualization to provide value to their shoppers while increasing conversions. Mobile commerce sales consumed 30% of all U.S. e-commerce sales in 2015. With AR working mainly through smartphones, this technology is expected to capitalize on the growing dominance of mobile commerce.

Online retail opportunities continue to expand as more consumers begin their purchasing decisions through online portals. To remain competitive and profitable, it is no longer enough just to have an online presence. Your online shopping experience must now be personal and interactive to help ease buyer uncertainty and drive profit through consumer satisfaction. Augment, a leader in the augmented reality market, is active in aiding online retailers with our custom AR solutions.

Foundations and Future of Augmented Reality and Ecommerce