Today, one of the biggest challenges of online shopping is the full sensory product experience. In a brick-and-mortar store, you can touch products, try on clothes or see how big the couch will look in your room.
While these things aren’t possible with traditional eCommerce websites , Augmented Reality (AR) offers a unique way to provide customers with deeper and more comprehensive information about your products.
And what happens when you combine eCommerce with Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Most likely a marketing explosion of unparalleled levels. These are the technologies we will most likely be using for the next 20 years or so.
Many of these proven technologies are already being used to great effect by companies like AutoDesk, Adobe, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. However, as AI and AR are becoming more commonplace, the opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive will be greater than ever before.
AR is a method of superimposing digital images onto a user’s perception of their immediate environment. The goal is to make computers and products appear and interact more realistically in the user’s view, so that they can have a real-life experience like they do in the movies and games.
You can do this with your mobile device if you have a compatible app installed. But AR for PC and Mac also exists, and thanks to the magic of Adobe Photoshop you can superimpose virtual images into your desktop experience.
This means you can virtually create the product or the digital imagery that you want to use to drive your business.
You can use AR to create interactive, immersive virtual experiences that your customers can immediately engage with. In addition, you can use AR to increase customer satisfaction and sales.
By harnessing the power of AR in your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to give your customers a more in-depth look into your products or services. Here are just a few ways to integrate AR into your eCommerce business.
Marketers have experimented with AR for years, but its use has skyrocketed in the last few years with the advent of ARCore and ARKit.
For consumers, AR is not about more pixels, but rather it’s about more information. There are numerous applications of this technology, but the most widely used AR application right now is taking a user’s mobile phone camera and displaying information or entertainment in front of that user.
A shopping app can allow the user to “try on” different outfits to decide what to buy. A news app can show the weather in any city they are interested in visiting. While these applications have been around for some time, AR is now accessible to a much larger audience.
The ideal situation for any business selling products online is having a direct relationship with the customer and the product. For businesses selling products online, their suppliers are their distributors and they usually do not have control over the products that go in and out of their supply chain.
Supply chain management can be so complex that even large corporations don’t have control over it. For example, how often have you received a damaged product from an importer or had to pay huge duties when you buy certain products?
To address this issue, there is a growing need for businesses to integrate AR with their supply chain management. The most basic use case for AR in the supply chain is enabling distributors to show the status of their inventory. What’s in stock?
One of the big advantages of AR will be self-service. You’re used to seeing various levels of help when you make a purchase. You need to answer a series of questions to make an application or upload an image to fix a problem. Even if you do answer all the questions, you often have to wait for a human to review your information.
And the process could take several minutes. With self-service AR, a customer can scan an item to see it in person. Or, you could make several different color options and select the one you like the best.
The company can instantly update your website to reflect the change. AR is going to be a big game-changer for mobile shopping.
Augmented reality (AR) is a visual experience that can be accessed through a smartphone or device. It is not something that an individual can see in real life.
When customers look at an AR-enabled item, it will appear in a new setting and can be accessed from any angle, making the product relevant to the customer’s interests. It can trigger memories for customers.
For example, a customer could look at a house and see their mother’s former home in the background. Customers can look at an item and know how much it costs without any need to log into their bank account.
For example, a customer looking at a pair of shoes that are on sale could get a sale price and know how much they could be spending to purchase the item without even looking at the sales rack.
The types of AR technology differ based on the capabilities they provide. Here are the common types of AR applications to consider:
Marker-based AR is also known as Image Recognition or Recognition-based AR. It detects the object (“marker”) through the camera and provides information about that object. When a device with the AR application identifies that marker, the app replaces the marker with the 3D version of the object. This enables the user to view the object in more detail from many angles.
Markerless Augmented Reality needs not to be triggered via an object from the real world. The user can place a virtual object, then rotate and move the object.
A markerless AR that uses geographic location for displaying digital content at specific locations, like Pokemon Go.
It projects synthetic light onto physical surfaces and allows users to interact with it. For example, the holograms in sci-fi movies.
AR is the best way for eCommerce customers to examine products or experience services in a personal environment and at their preferred time, before making a purchase. AR helps customers to preview products and pick the right product the first time.
The fear of the very first outcome ‘whether it will be good on me or not’ can reduce conversion rates. People shopping your product online want to know what they’re getting and take all the precautions for it to be the one they want. AR helps shoppers to have a better understanding of what they’re buying and how the clothes, eyeglasses, accessories and even makeup will work for them.
How much space will the couch take in your living room or what will the television screen on your wall look like? These things are really difficult to assume even at the physical store.
Virtual placement offers customers real-time preview of how the products will look like when placed in their environment. DTC furniture’s Burrow at Home app uses ARKit to position true-to-scale 3D models of their couches in the photos taken on the customer’s device.
If your products have a learning curve before new customers can use them, an interactive user manual is a great AR application for your users to understand how the product will work.
The interactive user manual responds to actions to the users, provides on-page contextual support while using a part of software, application, or website. Some AR apps scan the product and direct the buttons in the real-life environment through graphical arrows and text animations.
Social Media filters were initially used just for fun purposes. However, over the years there has been a huge rise in the number of brands using AR via social media filters. It’s a great way to enable people to test new products and find out how they will look on them.
AR filters help improve audience engagement while encouraging them to tag your brand in their content.
One of the biggest challenges eCommerce is facing today is the struggle of presenting a physical, 3D product in a virtual, 2D environment. AR bridges this gap by making it easier to showcase merchandise and offer consumers a better understanding of the products they’re purchasing.
Let’s have a look at some other things AR can help you do:
AR is naturally interactive which makes it easy for you to keep your customers hooked on to your store. The longer customers stay on your site, the better are the chances of making a purchase! Even if they don’t buy they are likely to develop a relationship with your brand and products, and create a memory to remember your store in the future.
You have to create a buzz to grab people’s attention in a noisy world. An engaging Augmented Reality campaign can be one of the best ways to attract new customers to your eCommerce store.
As AR helps to provide customers with ample information about your products it’s less likely that they return the product because it doesn’t look as anticipated.
We are sure after learning about these many benefits of AR for eCommerce, you must want to make implement AR technology in your business, so here is how you can start
What’s your primary reason for using AR? And how it will help your customers? The second question is more significant as a clear understanding of what goal you want to achieve for the customer experience will bring out the best of your AR application.
The next step is to determine your vision before jumping into the technical aspects of the AR application. It will become easy to choose the techniques and technology once you know where you’re going.
Now that you know what to create, you can start selecting the tools needed to use. Some of the aspects you need to think about:
As you’ve put so much of hard work into creating the tool, let the world know about it via a demo video, in-app instructions, and sharable content to allow users share their AR experience on social media.
There are product categories which are tough to sell on eCommerce. And, that’s when augmented reality applications comes handy and are on the rise.
Now that you know the benefits, types, and associated use cases of augmented reality, evaluate whether or not AR is the right choice for your business. If so, connect with the team at ioVista to bring your AR application to life.
Mike Patel is a digital marketing enthusiast, innovator and President of a leading Digital and E-commerce Development Agency in Dallas, Texas. Mike holds a BS, Computer Science degree from Wayne State University and is a key player in the E-commerce development and digital marketing industry since 2004. The scope of technology in his extensive experience of more than 15 years ranges from Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (Pay Per Click) management, E-commerce SEO, Google Shopping Ads and more.
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