The future of shopping is here and it’s better than you imagined. As business owners, it’s important to stay ahead of innovations in the industry but virtual reality is no longer an innovation. It’s here to stay.
Retailers such as Adidas and ASOS are already regularly using augmenter reality (AR) as part of their businesses. For customers, AR offers the chance to get a close up look at products without having to step foot outside their door. It also means a more personalised shopping experience and quicker response times to queries or complaints. So, what can e-commerce businesses expect from augmented reality shopping?
A different shopping experience
When shoppers are offered a more exciting shopping experience, they’re going to come back for more. Every company using AR in ecommerce has reported increased sales. Take a look at ten different retailers that are currently using AR and reaping the benefits.
For a customer, the experience changes because the digital information becomes more realistic. Suddenly, they can see the material of garments more clearly or the pattern on a cushion in more detail. The customer becomes part of the story of the brand and for as long as AR stays a novelty, more customers are going to want to experience it more often.
Cut out physical barriers
One of the biggest problems that ecommerce businesses face at the moment is the customer’s inability to envision using a product. It’s a huge visual barrier that can delay customers from making a purchase, often resulting in no purchase at all.
With customers being able to use virtual reality (VR) as a tool to explore products, they’ll develop a bigger and better sense of using the products they’re looking at. Customers will no longer have to use a huge portion of their imagination to figure out whether they’re suited to a product or not. Although VR isn’t the same as seeing something in person, it’s as close as an ecommerce customer can get.
Try before you buy
Augmented reality apps are the new way to try before you buy. They give the customer the option to experience the product before making a purchase. Not only could this result in more purchases, it could also significantly reduce the amount of product returns. For example, IKEA has launched an AR app that allows customers to visualise products in their home.
IKEA’s app, called IKEA Place, is a way of showing customers how furniture will fit and look in certain rooms in their home. IKEA realised that their furniture could be bulky and difficult to place in some spaces, so they gave their customers a great way to try before they buy.
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Save time and effort
The biggest seller in any business these days is convenience. People are busy and they want products on their doorstep yesterday. AR gives customers a way to significantly reduce their shopping time, freeing up time to discover more products. If someone goes online to look for a specific type of dress, for example, AR has the ability to show these dresses on the person and narrow down choices quickly.
Sephora is a great example of this. The beauty brand has offered women a way to view themselves wearing different makeup products using AR. This saves women from having to visit stores and try on different makeup products in person. It’s resulted in a significant increase in customers and sales.
The end result
As mentioned above, there are times when product sales rely heavily on the imagination of customers and their willingness to take a risk. However, for certain products it can be difficult to use the imagination – no matter how good you are at visualising. If you’re buying paint, for instance, it’s almost impossible to envision the true colour of that paint on the wall.
Many companies are investing in visual spaces within their stores, where customers can experience products in all their glory. This eliminates the need for customers to use their imagination and avoids customer disappointment when the product turns out to be something other than what they imagined.
Many people enjoy shopping in stores because they have a choice right in front of their eyes. They enjoy seeing products lined up on the shelves so they can browse at their own leisure. But what if that were possible in the home too? What if using AR could mean that a virtual shelf presented itself on the walls in your home?
Shoppers would have the ability to sit on the sofa with their family and make a choice from their own personal shelf. It’s the same kind of enjoyment as shopping in a brick and mortar store – plus the convenience of staying at home.
Marketing is a huge part of running any ecommerce business. Businesses have already started working with platforms like Snapchat to create user-generated content. This content works as an endorsement and is shared like any other content via social media.
With the help of AR marketing content can become massively more engaging for any audience – and engaging content makes conversions far more likely. Social media will remain one of the biggest ways to promote a product or service online, but the influence of AR will ensure that businesses have the upper hand over their competitors.
A whole new world
No matter how many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon, virtual and augmented reality remains an exciting new phenomenon. Imagine a world where consumers get to use digital imagery and content within their physical surroundings to make day-to-day choices. AR is about to completely transform the ecommerce industry, but it’s also likely to transform lives everywhere.
It won’t be long before we’re all using VR and AR in our everyday lives and thinking nothing of it. Don’t miss out on what these innovations can do for your business now and in the future.
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