For a long time Augmented Reality technology seemed to be a thing straight from the pages of science fiction. Even though the technology was promising — it was slightly beyond the reach of the majority of its potential target audience.
And then — smartphones came and turned the whole thing upside down. AR started slowly but surely to establish itself on the market. Little by little big companies started to try out various solutions.
The big change came in 2016 when Nintendo released Pokemon Go. This is the point when Augmented Reality finally fully established itself as a viable technology with feasible business models. Soon after AR started to spread rapidly across all industries.
The report presented by The App Solutions projected that the AR/VR market is going to expand to $150 billion by 2020. And, if there is one industry that has embraced Augmented Reality technology more than the others — then it is probably eCommerce.
As an industry with the fiercest competition — eCommerce companies are open-minded and readily embrace emerging technologies in order to get the higher ground in the never-ending fight for a place under the sun.
Why AR matters for eCommerce?
Online shopping is all about convenience and comfort. Part of the reason why eCommerce has managed to grow so fast was because of these two factors. But, in order to remain competitive — the standards of convenience and comfort are getting higher and higher and so are customer demands.
If ten years ago it was all right to merely show a product card with all the technical information laid out comprehensively — now you need to show the product in action and offer as much customization as possible. Enter AR.
Implementation of Augmented Reality to the shopping experience has become a game-changer for the industry. Not only has it improved and transformed customer experience, but it has also enabled the industry to do things that seemed fantastic a little over a decade ago.
Let’s look closer.
What AR brings to eCommerce?
One of the major advantages of implementing Augmented Reality into eCommerce is the way it helps customers to choose products more efficiently by allowing them to visualize their appearance.
Visualization can be used both for fitting furniture and trying out clothes. It can also be used in such fields as testing the look of the makeup on your face or trying out the look of tattoos on your body parts.
This is a major evolutionary step of the “try before you buy” model as it streamlines the testing stage and enables better understanding of how the product will look like in your room or in thecase of clothes, on your body.
Another big benefit from visualization is the customization of the product according to the environment. Aspects such as colors and sizes can be easily adjusted in order to better fit the environment.
While such features require extensive 3D modeling in order to maintain flexibility and retain accurate depiction of the product — customization is a great way of improving the product itself. How? The information about customization from different customers can be used to analyze which types of the product are more in demand and which elements need more customization.
Such things can greatly help in satisfying customer demands to a tee.
Home In-store experience
The most important innovation that has come from the implementation of Augmented Reality technology to the eCommerce operation is a fully immersive in-store experience in your house.
For years the eCommerce industry was trying to provide an enhanced shopping experience. In this case, the emergence of AR was, for lack of a better word, timely.
Even on smartphones, AR can provide an engaging experience with more fulfilling results. For example, AR can turn a product catalog into a fully-fledged digital store with product information and demonstrations just like in the physical store.
Best AR eCommerce tools
IKEA is one of the front-runners in the AR revolution. Their AR app Place try before you buy is one of the best showcases of the possibilities of the technology. On the other hand, the IKEA AR app is one of the best examples of intuitive user-friendly interface design. It is easy to use and there are more than enough features to find the product that fits your room to a tee.
Basically, what IKEA has done is a full-on AR version of their product catalogue. But that is not all – recently there were some tests of “make your own” features that included building blocks to compose your own IKEA-styled furniture.
Sephora is an augmented reality toolbox designed for fitting clothes, trying out makeup and matching shades.
As a “try before you buy” product it provides flexible customization features and is capable of adjusting products to body parts. It is also has a good tool for learning to apply various types of makeup without making a mess on your face.
Quiver is an AR tool for kids. At its heart is a set of coloring pages that can be downloaded from the website. Upon finishing the picture, the application can bring it to life with some quirky animation.
This app is an exquisite entertainment experience for kids.
Even though the technology is still in its nascent stage – it is obvious that AR is a game-changing technology for the eCommerce industry.
Augmented Reality seems like a natural fit for eCommerce. It is a natural extension of an online shopping experience into the physical world with the potential of enhancing the quality of the products and adjust them more precisely to customer demands.