Augmented Reality is Transforming Ecommerce

Augmented Reality is Transforming Ecommerce

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AR (augmented reality) is making our world even more exciting! We can do things like shopping, cooking, and even exploring the planet right from the comfort of home! Augmented Reality (AR) is a virtual reality that overlays digital information in the real world. AR apps use cameras and sensors to overlay graphics over the physical environment. This technology has already transformed the manufacturing, construction, retail, healthcare, and education industries. And now it's also coming into your everyday life. For example, people can now find AR experiences at grocery stores, restaurants, museums, sports stadiums, and local coffee shops.

AR is just beginning to transform e-commerce. With more retailers adopting AR, consumers will be able to interact with their favorite brands in new ways.

Stay tuned... this article explores how AR is changing e-commerce experiences!

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality combines digital and physical elements to create a hybrid environment. The term was coined in 1994 by Thomas Alva Edison, who saw his invention, the Kinetoscope, as "a magic lantern for the eye." He envisioned that the device could allow people to view images projected onto a screen without looking through a lens. 

Today, AR is used to create interactive 3D models, video games, and educational tools. This technology lets users see digital content appear in their field of view. AR apps work by tracking the position of mobile devices and displaying relevant information. When people look through a smartphone camera, they see what the app sees. For example, if they point their phone's camera toward a building, they might see a building floor plan displayed on their screen. Or, if they aim it toward a restaurant menu, they might see a list of items on their screen.

By combining the real world with digital information, AR helps people decide better where and what to buy. In addition, this technology benefits those who want to learn more about something before purchasing.

People could scan a QR code on a store shelf to access information about a product. Once they know more about the item, they can decide whether or not to purchase it. For example, AR apps can allow shoppers to try on clothes or shoes before buying them. Amazing right?

The future of shopping is virtual.

Augmented reality is now being adopted across multiple industries, including e-commerce. The first wave of AR adoption was in manufacturing. Companies like GE, Volvo, and Ford leverage AR to improve efficiency and safety.

  • GE is developing tools that allow workers to see what materials are needed before starting a job.
  • Volvo is creating a system that lets drivers view vehicle maintenance instructions without leaving their seats.
  • Ford is testing self-driving vehicles equipped with AR capabilities.
  • Walmart has partnered with Microsoft to create an app that lets shoppers virtually try on clothes in the store.
  • Amazon is working with Google to build a similar feature. (Amazon Go, where customers simply pick out what they want and walk out without waiting in line.) "We want to make sure people know exactly what size they are wearing," said Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.
  • Other retailers are following suit. Macy's is building a mobile platform that lets customers scan in-store items and order them online.

E-commerce is growing at a rapid pace. As a result, retailers try to stay competitive by offering better customer service and improving the shopping experience. By combining AR and machine learning, retailers can create new ways to engage with customers and start to incorporate AR into their websites and mobile apps. 

Types of augmented reality(AR) Applications

Marker-based AR.

Marker-based AR refers to AR technology that relies on markers placed in the real world to create 3D models.

The first marker-based AR app was Google Earth, and Google Earth lets users view satellite images of places around the globe. Google Earth allows users to place points on a map, then see where those points appear on a photo taken from space.

With the introduction of Apple Maps, Apple introduced a similar feature called Flyover. Flyover lets users point out landmarks, businesses, and other objects on a map. Users can click on the object, and the app displays a 360° panorama of the location.

Camera-based AR.

Camera-based AR uses images captured by a camera to create 3D models. With this method,

  • A user takes photos of items in the real world and uploads them to a cloud service.
  • Then, a computer program matches the image to a database of similar pictures.
  • Finally, the program generates a 3D model of the object.

This process works best if the item being photographed is unique.

The results won't be accurate if multiple people take the same picture of the same item.

That's why camera-based AR is better suited for photo-sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest. Users snap photos of items in the physical world, and the app automatically generates a 3D model. Then, they can share the image with friends and followers via social media.

And because the app doesn't require users to place markers physically, it's ideal for places like malls and airports.

Markerless AR

Markerless AR uses camera and sensor data to create 3D models of objects in the real world.

The advantage of markerless AR is that it doesn't require unique markers to identify where things are located in space.

On the other hand, marker-based AR requires users to place markers on surfaces before placing them in the real world.

Markers are often placed on walls, floors, furniture, and other surfaces. They allow computers to recognize where items are concerning those surfaces.

Markerless systems rely on algorithms to detect images' points, lines, and curves. This makes them ideal for indoor environments because they work without requiring markers.

Location-based AR.

Location-based AR is a form of AR that uses GPS data to place digital objects in specific locations.

When someone opens an app that uses location-based AR, he/she sees a map of where he/she is. Then he/she can tap on the object to learn about it. It also allows people to interact with the object directly.

For example, if someone visits a restaurant, he/she can see what items are available on the menu without asking anyone. Or if he/she goes to a museum, he/she might be able to learn about famous paintings before stepping inside the gallery.

Location-based AR lets users view 3D models of objects in their surroundings.

Projection-based AR.

PBAR uses holograms projected onto surfaces to make digital information look like it exists in the physical space around us.

The term "projection" refers to the process of projecting 3D images onto a 2D surface.

In projection-based AR, users wear glasses equipped with special lenses that project digital content into the physical space.

The lenses are connected to computers via wireless technology. They then send data about where objects are located in relation to the user. Based on this information, the software creates a realistic image of what the user sees. Finally, it projects the image onto a screen, a wall, or any flat surface. Projection-based AR works best indoors.

Outside, the light doesn't reflect off surfaces correctly, making the projected image blurry. And because the technology requires a direct line of sight between the camera and the display, it's hard to see the image if someone walks behind the user.

How e-commerce businesses are using Augmented Reality

Ecommerce businesses are increasingly incorporating AR into their marketing strategies. For example, retailers use AR to make customers feel like they're interacting with the brand directly.

Here are some examples of how e-commerce businesses use augmented reality.

Virtual try-on solutions.

Virtual try-on allows shoppers to virtually put items on themselves before buying them. They're becoming increasingly common in fashion and beauty retail. AR enables users to see themselves wearing certain outfits in 3D. This makes it possible to view shoppers in different clothing options without wearing them.

Shoppers can see themselves wearing the clothing in full color, and they can adjust the size, style, and fit of the garment. They can also view the item from every angle.

People who aren't confident about fitting certain styles can get a better idea of what size they wear, what color suits them, and what style looks better on them.

This helps save time because they won't have to go through the hassle of trying on multiple items. And since they can preview the item, they are less likely to make impulse purchases.'

All of this helps shoppers make informed decisions about purchasing items online. AR also enables customers to customize their clothing.

Preview placement.

Augmented reality preview placements allow shoppers to see what items look like before placing them in their cart.

  • Shoppers can view previews of clothing and accessories in 3D models.
  • They can also view product details, pricing, and reviews on the item itself. Retailers can create AR previews for specific styles, sizes, and color options.

As shoppers browse through the store, they can tap on the item to learn more about it. Or they can click on the "add to cart" button to purchase the item immediately.

Once added to the cart, the shopper can choose between viewing the item in 2D or 3D.

Interactive user manuals.

Augmented reality allows viewing instructions and diagrams without the stress of convoluted manuals. (We are looking at you, IKEA :))

It makes it easier to understand complicated products. For example, instead of reading a user manual, shoppers simply scan the product with their smartphone, showing them everything they need to know.

An interactive user manual uses visuals to guide users through a step-by-step process. These guides are helpful for products that involve training before they are fully grasped.

Imagine a customer who wants to buy a vacuum cleaner. He scans the machine with his phone and learns how to clean upholstery.

These products benefit significantly from augmented reality because they allow users to see precisely what they need to do.

In addition to helping consumers better understand products, augmented reality can improve businesses' bottom lines.

So, consider adding augmented reality to your inventory if you own a brick-and-mortar store. If you are not sure, let us help you with that. Your customers will appreciate seeing the details of your products without having to read a user manual.

Social media filters.

AR filters show consumers how certain styles will look on them. In addition, brands are increasingly using AR filters on social media to promote products. They are even using AR filters to give customers a sneak peek at upcoming promotions.

There are several benefits to using AR filters:

  1. They can help brands stand out among other companies.
  2. They can help retailers build trust with their audience.
  3. They can help brands engage with their followers.

AR filters can be beneficial for e-commerce sites. Customers can interact with the site virtually without leaving their homes. This means that they can shop anywhere and anytime.

AR filters can help brands connect with their audience and encourage repeat purchases. Additionally, they can help brands reach younger audiences as Social media filters are pretty popular.

Grow Your Store with the Help of Augmented Reality

One of the biggest challenges for e-commerce is the lack of representation of "real" products in a virtual world. Augmented reality (AR) can be used to solve this problem by allowing people to see an image of a product realistically. Plus, it's easy to use and requires no special equipment.

Here are some of the things AR can help businesses with:

Customer confidence increases and leads to lower return rates.

Customers have become more skeptical about buying online than ever before. Many believe the items they order won't match the picture they saw online. With augmented reality, customers can see the actual product before purchasing. This helps them feel confident about their decision and reduces returns and complaints.

According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, augmented reality helps consumers feel confident about buying items they might otherwise hesitate to buy.

The same study found that AR helped reduce returns. When shoppers were able to try on clothing before purchasing it online, they were less likely to return the item.

Customer experiences are more engaging. 

Augmented reality gives customers more control over their shopping experience. It also gives them a sense of ownership over the products they purchase.

This helps customers feel like they have a personal relationship with the brand. It also encourages them to share their experiences with others.

For example, when a customer buys a pair of shoes online, they may want to post pictures of themselves wearing the shoes on Instagram.

In addition to helping customers find the right size, augmented reality can also help them choose between different colors. For instance, a customer could take a picture of themself wearing a particular color shirt. Then, the app could compare that image to shirts from various stores.

If the customer likes the shirt, they could click through to the store's website and order it. If the customer didn't like the shirt, they could simply delete the image and move on to another one.

Increased shopping time leads to higher conversion rates.

When you add augmented reality to your e-commerce site, you can increase the time customers spend on your site.

This is because they can now see how the product looks in person. Then, if they decide to buy it, they can do so immediately instead of waiting until they get home and trying it on.

Plus, they can easily share photos of themselves wearing the product on social media. This increases the chances that potential buyers will come across those posts.

AR also helps boost conversions. According to a report published by Adobe, augmented reality users are three times more likely to convert into paying customers. This is because AR helps customers visualize the product in real life.

They can see exactly how the product will fit them, which helps them feel more comfortable ordering it.

Offer flexible customization for customers.

Customers often prefer to customize their purchases. However, this can be difficult if they don't know how to do it.

Augmented reality lets customers create custom designs using their images.

They can even change the design as many times as they want. This makes it easier for customers to express their individuality. It also helps them save money. Customers can save up to 30% off their purchases by designing their clothes.

The best part is that they can do this while sitting at home, without visiting a physical clothing store.

AR also helps customers create unique gifts. For instance, they can take a picture of themselves holding an item and send it to friends. Then, the recipient can open the image and place it on top of any object.

For example, the recipient could put the image on top of a cake. When the cake is served, everyone can enjoy the surprise.

Develop new products in instance

Another benefit of augmented reality is that it helps companies develop new products faster.

By taking pictures of existing items, you can make changes to them. You can then present these modified versions to customers.

Developers can also ask them what they think of the new version. This way, they can learn what features potential clients like and dislike.

Developers can then incorporate these suggestions into future products.

Also, they can let customers virtually try the new version before making a purchase. This gives them a chance to see whether the modifications were successful.

Augmented reality in the fashion/apparel industry

The fashion and apparel industry is already embracing augmented reality (AR), and stores are experimenting with tech to enhance customer experience. For example, retailers are using AR to help customers find items, try on clothes, view product information, and even buy products online.

Already, we're seeing strong evidence of retailers adopting the technology and using it to boost conversions. In particular, there are several cases where AR is being used to sell jewelry, eyewear, or footwear.

Augmented reality in furniture stores

Consumers no longer have to rely solely on measuring or taping off a space to determine size or fit. With AR, customers can now see exactly how a piece of furniture will look in a home.

The technology allows shoppers to place items into a virtual environment and view it in real life. This eliminates the guesswork and frustration associated with traditional measurements.

AR technology is being used by major retailers such as Crate & Barrel, IKEA, and Staples Canada. The technology helps consumers visualize furniture placement and adjust sizes accordingly. For example, a customer could use the app to measure a dining table. They could then place the item directly into the virtual environment and see how it looks in a living room.

How Does AR Benefit Brands?

  • Retailers can create interactive displays in store windows that allow shoppers to view items in 3D before buying them online.
  • Restaurants can place QR codes on tables so diners can order takeout without leaving the restaurant.
  • Sports teams can embed augmented reality games into stadium seats, allowing fans to play fantasy football during the game.
  • Museums can use AR to bring artworks to life through holograms.

Imagine being able to walk up to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and see her smile right in front of you. That's what augmented reality is capable of doing.

AR is making it possible to connect with customers in brand new ways. And it's helping companies build stronger relationships with their customers.

Removing friction from the customer journey (easy conversions)

AR technology allows brands to remove friction from the customer journey.

When people shop online, they often find themselves looking for something specific. For example, they might want to know if a particular item will fit their size or if it's compatible with another thing they already own. But when they get there, they may not be sure what to buy next.

The problem is that most retailers don't have an easy way of helping customers make those decisions. That means shoppers are forced to sift through pages and pages of product descriptions and reviews before finding exactly what they need. And even then, they still have to go back and forth between different websites to compare prices.

With AR, brands can eliminate this friction. Instead, customers can simply scan a product and instantly receive all the necessary information.

This removes the need for customers to spend time searching for answers. It also gives them more confidence in their purchase decision. In addition, AR technology lets brands provide personalized recommendations based on past purchases.

For example, a shopper who has purchased a pair of shoes in the past would be shown similar styles. Or a customer who has bought a lamp in the past would be offered additional lighting options.

Improving Digital Marketing Efforts

AR technology can help brands improve digital marketing efforts.

For instance, AR apps can be integrated into social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. When someone posts a product photo on these sites, they can include a link to the retailer's website where they can learn more about the product.

Brands can also integrate AR into their mobile apps. By placing QR codes on products, they can direct customers to a page where they can download an app that shows them how to assemble the item.

AR technology can also help brands engage with customers in other ways.

AR apps can be embedded into physical stores. Shoppers can hold their phones over a display case and receive real-time feedback on whether the product fits their needs.

'WOW' your customers by using AR.

Augmented Reality (AR) technology allows people to see real-time 3D models of items they're interested in buying without having to touch the thing first physically. Instead, it creates an immersive environment where customers can interact with their purchases using their smartphones.

Augmented Reality (AR) is certainly on a path to revolutionizing the entire business world and will become a common practice for all major companies looking to stay competitive in this ever-expanding market. Try out these techniques and see if they work for you. If you do them correctly, you will increase your conversion rates.

Ending Notes:

Augmented Reality (AR) technology is transforming how we shop online. In fact, according to a recent study by Adobe, nearly half of consumers expect to see augmented reality in their eCommerce experience within five years.

With this growth comes increased expectations for retailers to deliver a seamless user experience across multiple channels. This includes mobile apps, websites, social media posts, and even brick-and-mortar locations.

If you want help creating an AR journey for your Customers, Feel free to contact us.