From Functional to Fun- Augmented Reality and eCommerce

When many of us imagine the future of eCommerce we tend to think about it in a functional sense, but what about the possibility of fun? Marrying technology with customer experiences in special ways allows a company to not only make their eCommerce functional but can allow the user to break away from the conventional definition of online shopping and enter an immersive shopping experience, something our users have been waiting for. 

AR and eCommerce Quote

As digital stores elevate beyond the original functionality of eCommerce, augmented reality (AR) is giving it the push it needs to evolve. For this reason, the technology has become a front-runner in “commerce trends” for both B2B and B2C markets. Its ability to create immersive shopping experiences both in-store and online continues to amaze. However, AR isn’t just a trend. ​​TechCrunch called AR the answer to plummeting retail sales during the lockdown. And while the lockdown has subsided, the growth of AR has not. According to Statista, the augmented reality market is valued at $30.7 billion and growing steadily. Beyond being fun and engaging for the customer, consider the benefits for the brand in creating such an experience.

How can brands utilize AR to create a wow factor and re-create their experiences in ways that didn’t exist before? What benefits can be expected? And how hard is it to deploy? This article explores the shift from eCommerce as simply functional to seemingly fun through the use of AR and what that means for brands.

Benefits of AR & eCommerce

The days of “flat” eCommerce experiences are fleeting. Photos and even videos, while helpful, are now just one aspect of online shopping. Allowing customers to visualize products in the real world, to shop from wherever they may be but feel as though they are within your brand is quickly becoming a necessary element to consider when developing your digital strategy.

AR helps bring the reality of shopping to the online world. Disrupting the classic eCommerce model, AR provides experiences that connect brands directly with their customers. Consider the possibilities of creating an environment that is as close to the physical storefront as possible….but better. Several benefits reported by brands using AR within their digital shopping experiences include:

  1. Increases in user engagement upwards of 66%. Think about it- AR is incredibly engaging when done correctly. The longer you can keep a user on the site the more likely they are to purchase. Even without a purchase, this added engagement time brings a deeper relationship to your brand and keeps you top of mind vs competitors.
  2. Conversion growth of 40%. When people are engaged on your site longer, they are more likely to purchase. AR not only gives users more information than flat/2D images, but can also help a user imagine what the item will look like on them, in their space, or more. All of this adds up to more buyer confidence and a much easier purchasing decision 
  3. Reduces returns by 35% because the user has the ability to make a better purchasing decision. With eCommerce returns commonly being more expensive than in-store purchases, this can be hugely beneficial to the bottom line.
  4. More informative customer journey analytics for better brand decision-making. The data generated with AR brings a true 360-degree view of users, illuminating insights on how products are selected, used, and experienced. This data can allow for more informed decisions on product development, merchandising, marketing, and even the layout of stores or product placement.
  5. Customers are willing to pay more for products delivered in AR. Giving customers greater confidence in the product and its quality, not only prevents them from walking away from a potential purchase but makes them more likely to pay a premium in many cases.

How Can My Brand Get Started With AR?

How hard is it to get started with AR with eCommerce?  It’s much easier than you think. 

Even just a few years ago 3D models were required in order to adopt AR but now improved technologies exist making it easier for brands to bring the immersive experience directly to their eCommerce. Mobile scanning solutions allow for multiple 2D images of a product, converting it seamlessly into 3D. 

This type of accessibility to AR has many brands putting it top of mind with their digital commerce strategy. Putting immersive experiences into the customer’s hands in creative ways, no market is being left untouched. From building materials, clothing, and home furnishings these are just a sampling of popular categories seeing a rush to add the technology. Several leading retailers are even taking it a step further giving users the ability to try out 3D models of their products by simply tapping a picture from their website, accelerating innovation and bringing it into the mainstream.

What’s Next

As the AR market grows, so will the technology it uses- improving in accuracy and usability. Making the most of augmented reality and eCommerce begins with understanding how it can help bridge the gaps in your customer’s journey and then developing a strategy around that. As you integrate AR across your omnichannel spectrum, you will transform your customer experience and users will take note. 

If you’re ready to explore the benefits of augmented reality and eCommerce for your brand, start a conversation with the Echidna team today.

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