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This is an excerpt from our eBook, Foundations and Future of Augmented Reality in Retail

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It isn’t rare for a customer to start shopping in one channel and end up purchasing through another. A true omnichannel retail approach is about creating a customer experience that is seamless across all mediums. Augmented reality is helping to bridge those gaps by bringing a tangible presence to online shopping.

In eCommerce, the average conversion rate is 1.33%, while the top performing online stores convert at a 3.65% rate.

via Compass

Augmented reality is helping to solve these dilemmas with product visualization. AR makes it possible to see virtual products in your actual environment, and the integration of AR in eCommerce is quickly changing how consumers shop by allowing them to see what they want to buy before any purchase is made.

Even with the knowledge of a product’s dimensions, it’s still challenging to envision how it will look in your home or on your counter beyond a simple eyeball test. Augmented reality is set to revamp the online shopping experience in that sense. What if consumers could see the product in front of them right now? AR is providing value to retailers and shoppers alike in these three areas:

Creating an Engaging Buying Experience

Augment in online shopping

Keeping shoppers engaged throughout the buyer’s journey is a priority for all retailers, but it’s still a difficult task. Engaging users through augmented reality leads to longer times spent browsing an online store, interacting with products, and testing additional functionality through AR.

Additionally, AR provides true value when it comes to making a purchase decision.

While shopping online, customers have 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 imagination into a reality.

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

“With the increasing shift in mobile commerce, it’s only a natural progression to incorporate augmented reality into experiences that shoppers have on their mobile devices during their path-to-purchase.” – Jeff Papows, CEO ShopAdvisor

Modifying and Customizing 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 and computer graphics make it easy for consumers to explore their options and make personalized modifications while shopping online. 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.

AR has managed to merge the digital element with physical in-store products, and it has stimulated engagement on the sales floor.

Brands are enabling AR images on the outside of their packaging. This allows shoppers to scan the product packaging and easily see what’s offered inside without having to speculate. Many in-store marketing campaigns also offer coupons in this way.

Aside from scannable packaging, AR-powered kiosks are also becoming a large part of the omnichannel approach within brick-and-mortar stores. Customers use these AR stands to scan product boxes and see exactly what the finished product will look like, including other colors and functional configurations.

Visualizing and Understanding Products and Features

Both online and in-store, customers want to interact with a product to get a feel of how it works before heading to the checkout. Augmented reality uses animations to allow shoppers to see how complex products like appliances or electronics work and function.

The future of augmented reality in retail will implement augmented reality software development kits (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 merely old school all over again – the touch-and-try charm – just virtually!

Augment’s SDK in particular is built to integrate seamlessly into retailers’ existing app or website, allowing them to leverage product visualization to provide value to their shoppers while increasing conversions.

Foundations and Future of Augmented Reality and Ecommerce