The AR/VR technology is no longer confined to movies or video games. In fact, they are exceedingly becoming a prominent part of global industries, and thus, the eCommerce industry is no exception.
Speaking of, Augmented reality is revolutionizing the global retail customer experience in exciting new ways. For example, AR technology enables customers to connect with your products just as they would while shopping at a brick and mortar. The only difference is, with AR your customers can do just that from the comfort of their homes without having to compromise on the quality.
According to studies by Statista, there will be around 0.81 billion augmented reality users in 2021 which is estimated to reach 1.73 billion users by 2024. Additionally, the Augmented Reality market is valued at $30.7 billion, and over 400,000 augmented reality glasses have already been sold so far in 2021. Surprisingly, according to Google’s 2019 AR Survey, 66% of consumers are interested in using AR to support their buying decisions.
Augmented reality or AR is considered one of the most popular and trending technologies nowadays and the trend is definitely here to stay. Now, why are people and businesses so fascinated with this technology? Because it is en route to bigger and better advancements. For starters, it enables customers to see their surroundings with a twist meaning – 3D elements augmented onto a real-life environment.
Say, for example, Snapchat or Instagram face filters. Pokemon Go is another most common example of AR. Apart from the gaming industry, the opportunities for AR in the eCommerce sector are plentiful.
Everyone is already familiar with eCommerce and how it works – therefore you would agree that some purchases need a much more focused approach – meaning you can’t decide unless you know how they would look, be it a ball gown or office furniture. Therefore, AR can make selling and buying easier.
This is also commonly referred to as Recognition based Augmented Reality. This type of AR automatically identifies the product/ object in front of you known as the marker and gives details of the product under inspection on your device’s screen from which you are trying to detect the product.
The process is simple: you point your device on the object, the app will replace the object on the screen with a 3D environment/object, and then you can view the object from different angles for in-depth satisfaction. Marker-based AR applications take comparatively less development time and also require the use of minimum resources and costs.
It is a video projection technique. Through this technique, you can augment graphics in your surroundings. This type of AR is also known as Spatial AR. This is when you rely on a projector to project artificial light onto some object or thin air in the case of a hologram.
But this is a lot less widely adopted AR technology. You can use this type of AR in big global events such as Coachella but the infrastructure isn’t quite there for us to be using it in our homes.
For healthcare or eCommerce this technology can become incredibly useful down the line. For example, you are a surgeon who is about to operate through spatial AR the projection labels all the organs and you can see exactly where to make the incision.
Markerless AR is also known as location-based AR. This is when the user controls the environment via their location, for example, Google Maps or Pokemon Go. User has to scan horizontal or vertical surfaces, the system analyzes the environment to find correlation and pixels to define virtual coordinates related to their real environment.
Marker-less AR does not require prior knowledge of the user’s surroundings to overlay 3D visuals on it. Additionally, it does not need a fixed position or object/marker like Marker-based AR.
Now, this is the most common type of AR that does not need a detailed introduction because we all have used the Facebook and Snapchat filters at some point in our lives. Enough said.
There would be no denying the fact that augmented reality can enhance customer experience and engagement. It allows customers to not only view but interact with the products in exactly the way they would in physical stores.
Nowadays, people don’t have time to go shopping, they just prefer buying stuff online. AR can help with personalizing the experience for online customers. Customers can try on clothes, accessories, even pieces of furniture to see how they fit in their surroundings – all from the comfort of their homes. Because buying stuff that does not go well with your surroundings is a put-off. Therefore AR in eCommerce makes life easier for everyone.
Moreover, if you integrate AR in marketing campaigns for the brand awareness of your online shopping platform – it naturally gives out a viral effect. Through AR in your branding users will start recognizing your name. Additionally, the liveliness of your campaigns will enable your potential customers to engage with them and hence makes it a viral loop.
Sephora is creating marvelous ways for its customers to try their makeup online through AR. As a seller – AR shopping platforms not only help you delight or set yourself apart from your competitors but also make people feel more confident in buying your products.
Furthermore, AR is changing eCommerce businesses and revolutionizing how online brands present themselves. Ikea – a Swedish company known for designing and selling ready-to-assemble furniture is one of the first companies to adopt AR. They have an app that goes by the name ‘the place app’ – which allows customers to place their favorite piece of furniture anywhere in their home by pointing their phone cameras onto their surroundings to see the look and appeal.
Another great example is Rolex. They have developed an app that allows customers to try on Rolex watches on their wrists to see what the different models might look like and eliminates the need for actually going to the store to try them on.
Warby Parker – an eyewear retailer has a lot of physical store branches but they wanted to compete online. So they combined AR and face mapping/ recognition techniques that allow customers to virtually try on a pair of glasses before making an actual purchase. It lets customers switch between the models and colors.
Not just this, customers can get all sorts of recommendations through face recognition technology and go with the perfect fit. But since Warby Parker Warby relies on Apple’s ARKit and True Depth features, therefore the app is only available for iOS users.
Last but not least, Nike sportswear wanted to have this ability for people to order the right shoe size. So they too designed an AR app. All customers need to do is download the app, point it on their feet, position them correctly and the app will measure the shoe size that will definitely fit their size.
The competition among eCommerce stores is fierce therefore brands are looking to improve their customer experience for more loyalty, conversion rates, and streams of revenue. Therefore the importance of augmented reality should not be underestimated. As it enables businesses to offer convenience and create more interactive shopping experiences for their customers. Because the longer the customers stay on your online platforms, the higher the chances of them making a purchase.