Augmented Reality in E-commerceAugmented reality, also known as AR, is changing how e-commerce merchants connect with customers.
Aug 28, 2019
There are several ways that e-commerce store owners use augmented reality to deliver a better customer experience. Since it gives customers a more in-depth experience, it can help increase sales and conversion rates for e-commerce stores.
There are several key things to know about AR including:
- What augmented reality is
- How it is used in e-commerce
- The benefits of using augmented reality
- How to start using augmented reality in your business
While augmented reality can seem complicated at first, it is easy to understand and implement in your business. See how to use augmented reality in e-commerce to increase sales and improve customer experience.
While augmented reality can seem complicated at first, it is easy to understand and implement in your business.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) uses mobile technology to layer new content over images of the real world. It is similar to how movies use CGI to create things that don’t exist. The key difference is that AR happens in real time, in most cases. AR is easily accessible since the technology needed to use it is readily available.
Augmented reality (AR) uses mobile technology to layer new content over images of the real world.
E-commerce merchants often develop mobile apps that take advantage of the processing power of smartphones and their onboard cameras to make it work. Deploying an app on the various app stores is easy, and it gives you an additional way of providing a different customer experience.
Not all AR experiences require smartphones. It is possible to create an AR experience using desktops, laptops, and other less-than-mobile technologies. However, the experience is not as active or integrated into customers’ lives as it is with mobile devices. Some e-commerce merchants also take advantage of virtual reality (VR) technology to create AR experiences. VR devices can give customers the most realistic experience possible, but that technology is prohibitively expensive since it takes a special investment in uncommon technology.
How E-commerce Merchants Use AR
Merchants use AR to allow customers to see products or experience services in their normal lives without a substantial investment in products or services. In essence, it is a way to preview them before buying. For example, a furniture company can let customers use AR to preview furniture in their homes. On smartphones, the app could use the video camera to show the room. Then, the app can layer a 3D image of the furniture in the place where you want it. With the ability to reposition it on screen, it is possible to choose the best spot for a new piece of furniture before buying it.
Merchants use AR to allow customers to see products or experience services in their normal lives without a substantial investment in products or services.
IKEA is a leading example of how to use augmented reality. The IKEA app lets consumers layer images of furniture that they want over pictures of their space. That way, consumers can preview how a piece of furniture will look in their home. For consumers, this removes much of the fear of making a purchase. For IKEA, it increases customer engagement and loyalty, while providing the company with another way to reach consumers with marketing and brand-specific information.
From a business-to-business perspective, Coca-Cola did a similar thing for retailers. Many retailers struggle to arrange their stores to accommodate merchandise, specifically the kind that needs its own display or cooling case. Coca-Cola used augmented reality the way that IKEA did so that retailers could see how Coca-Cola’s cold cases would fit into their existing store designs. This helped increase sales for Coca-Cola and its retail partners.
Benefits for E-Commerce Merchants
One of the leading benefits for e-commerce merchants is that AR helps prevent costly administrative fees and restocking fees for products. Many customers return products when they are not what they expected, which raises shipping and restocking costs for merchants. Using AR, customers can preview products and be more likely to pick the right product the first time.
One of the leading benefits for e-commerce merchants is that AR helps prevent costly administrative fees and restocking fees for products.
Another way that e-commerce merchants use AR is to provide an exciting customer experience. Game merchants use AR often to connect with customers. A prime example of this is “Pokémon GO!”, which uses AR to introduce Pokémon characters to the real world. While the experience does not have any physical products to buy, it does allow customers to spend money on in-game purchases. Many merchants follow this same model to facilitate online purchases without the need to deliver physical products to customers.
Augmented reality is already on its way to becoming integral to customer experiences. According to ARtillry Intelligence and Thrive Analytics, the number of consumers that are using augmented reality has increased to 32 percent with the majority of users reporting that the experience was helpful. With this in mind, e-commerce merchants can use AR to improve customer experiences in the same way for better outcomes across any business sector.
Benefit to customers
Customers benefit from augmented reality as well. Online shopping comes with a lot of challenges for customers, the most important of which is trying to determine how products fit into their lives. Still, pictures of products on a website make it difficult to visualize them in real life, which leads to a lot of online shopping anxiety. This is likely the main object to completing sales that customers have since they don’t have enough information to feel confident in taking a risk on a new product that they have never experienced for themselves.
Sephora has a useful way of helping shoppers choose products. Customers can upload a picture of their faces to the website, and use the AR tool to apply different shades of makeup. Facial recognition software can detect the right place to put it and coloring systems can give the makeup the right texture once it is in place. That way, customers do not have to guess at what they will look like with new makeup. This makes them much more likely to take a chance on products since it removes much of the guesswork.
How to Get Started in AR
E-commerce merchants that want to start using augmented reality have several options available. There are many AR platforms available that help e-commerce companies develop AR technologies as either a standalone system or as an integrated one on an existing website. Shopify is one of the leading options and has an integrated AR system. Through Shopify, e-commerce merchants can create immersive experiences for customers including online and AR experiences.
Before any work begins on an AR system, the company needs to determine how it wants customers to experience it. This changes from company to company based on the products and services offered and the company’s existing customer experience.
Before any work begins on an AR system, the company needs to determine how it wants customers to experience it.
Shopify’s AR tools are easily accessible, too. With new technologies, it can give mobile devices to 3D AR systems without special apps or software. It can work directly in web browsers making it accessible to everyone. That can go a long way toward improving conversion rates.
Developing an Effective AR Experience
Creating an AR system can be difficult without the right technology or experience, which is why merchants should find an experienced business partner to work with. Some companies can help you develop an effective AR experience to increase your sales. These professionals have years of experience, technical know-how, and the infrastructure to help you create a seamless extension to your customer experience through AR.
Creating an AR system can be difficult without the right technology or experience, which is why merchants should find an experienced business partner to work with.
For e-commerce merchants that use third-party systems like Shopify, this is a great way to integrate AR into their existing systems. Shopify has a developer platform designed to make developing AR systems easier. That way, merchants can create their own AR experiences. However, partnering with an AR expert can help make that process even easier and remove a lot of the guesswork and research needed to do it effectively. That way, there are no limits to who and how much it can help e-commerce merchants drastically improve their conversion rates through a well-crafted AR experience.