The doorbell rings. It’s another stack of cardboard packages on your doorstep. It’s no secret, we’re all relying on online shopping more than ever before. In 2020, more than 2 billion people purchased goods or services online. The same year, global e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion USD. This figure is only expected to grow. For those entering the eCommerce market, there are a wealth of opportunities for success. The convenience, safety, and efficiency of eCommerce are driving more people online for their retail needs. 

If you’re looking to strengthen your eCommerce platform, or have found yourself forced to adapt your business online, you’ve already been exposed to the challenges of the online market. Reduction in sales, rising costs of shipping, and managing customer expectations are major risks to your bottom line.

To make the difficult transition to the online retail market while staying competitive, you need to quickly build trust, set yourself apart, and create a seamless shopping experience. The good news is that recent advancements in Augmented reality (AR) offer a clear solution. In this article, we’ll examine common problems in the eCommerce world and how AR’s unique capabilities can address them in ways that benefit you and your customers. 

Summary

How Augmented Reality Creates Personal Connections in Ecommerce 

The covid-19 pandemic hit retail particularly hard. Countless businesses relying on the personal connection of brick-and-mortar stores suddenly require an online presence to reach their customers. The lack of “personal connection” for many customers who want to see, feel, and test products prior to purchase can reduce consumer trust. Yet, the financial benefits of successful online retail are impossible to ignore. With thoughtful execution, even small and medium businesses can see major gains through eCommerce. But how can you create a personal, high-impact, and novel online shopping experience that stands out from the competition? Thankfully, AR technologies are finding a way.

AR allows customers to interact with your products through the devices we use every day — our phones. While not a perfect replication of in-store shopping, AR technologies create unique opportunities for customers to experience your product.

One such example is Clearly’s MyFit Tool. As a retailer specializing in eyewear, shoppers want to try on their products prior to purchasing to ensure the right fit. The MyFit tool uses the camera in the shopper’s device, enabling them to see themselves wearing any style before they buy. The result? The shopper knows how they look in the product, making them more comfortable with their choice.

This solution by Clearly has a two-fold effect. The customer gets a personalized experience when they virtually “try on” frames, and the company saves time and resources by providing shoppers a tool to mimic the in-store experience. 

Another company using AR to create a personal connection is Wanna, which uses a scannable QR code to show a user what their shoes would look like while being worn. Like Clearly, Wanna’s AR app allows the customer to literally see themselves in the product as they shop online. 

Why does this work? AR isn’t a replacement for physically touching a product in-store, but it enhances the visual experience. Being able to imagine yourself using a product creates an emotional connection with the shopper, encouraging them to make a purchase. 

How AR Tools Reduce Return Rates & Improve Customer Experiences

Online shopping has a high return rate. Around 70% of online shoppers make returns annually. And a 2019 study from UPS found that 73% of shoppers report that the return experience impacts the chances they will purchase from the same retailer in the future. More often than not, the cost of customer dissatisfaction is passed on to the retailer. For small to medium-sized businesses, the costs associated with returns can impact your bottom line.

The simplest solution is to reduce returns by ensuring customer satisfaction before the purchase is made. Ecommerce is not yet able to offer all of the retail features consumers are used to, like trying items before purchasing them. But companies are finding creative ways to address these challenges using AR. 

Neatsy, an online shoe retailer, is coupling the depth-sensing FaceID functionality in iPhone Cameras with 3D modelling and AI sizing technology to capture detailed prints of shoppers’ feet. This increases accuracy in predicting shoe size and fit, ultimately reducing return rates. 

Another company utilizing AR to increase customer satisfaction is IKEA. Their AR app, IKEA Place, allows potential buyers to virtually “place” products while adjusting for size and scale, enabling them to visualize exactly what a piece of furniture would look like in their home. The app helps the user determine the correct size of the furniture, reducing the chances that a customer will make a costly mistake by ordering something too big or too small. A win-win for retailers and customers alike. 

AR technologies like IKEA Place provide personalization to customers that are not available even with traditional shopping. When a shopper receives a custom shoe fitting recommendation or sees that perfect sofa in their living room, they are accessing a personalized experience only available through AR technology. The results from using apps like IKEA Place are highly customizable to the individual, showing them what they could have and motivating them to make a purchase. 

How & Why Trend-Setting Ecommerce Companies Use AR 

The influx of eCommerce retailers creates the need to stand out amongst the competition. Recognizable brands are already leaning into AR technologies to enhance their user experiences, build brand loyalty, and provide higher quality service.  

One example of enhancing eCommerce with AR is Amazon’s acquisition of Body Labs in 2017. Body Labs specializes in “true-to-life 3D models” used in software applications for B2B retailers. They have created technologies that allow customers to virtually try on outfits and build realistic game avatars. The acquisition of AR companies like Body Labs by major brands marks the beginning of a new era of online sales tools.

Amazon is not the only household name to embrace AR technologies to advance its eCommerce platform. Shopify has included new functions for its retailers, enabling them to utilize AR, 3D models, and video to drive consumer engagement and buyer confidence. The adoption of AR tech amongst major players like Amazon and Shopify signal the change for the industry as a whole. The future of online shopping is bright. And it’s in 3D. 

Integrating AR into the online shopping world provides enormous growth potential to retailers of any size. Many of the smallest players rely on tools provided by companies like Shopify. And while they create an entry point into the market, the limited capabilities offer little opportunity to create and customize. Medium to large organizations looking to build something that truly stands out should instead rely on tools created by AR experts. Iversoft’s partner, ImagineAR, offers more robust tools and access to experts, allowing anyone to create personalized, immersive AR experiences regardless of technical skill. 

Conclusion 

AR is already a recognizable feature in eCommerce. As more retail moves online, AR will be necessary for eCommerce companies to stay competitive. Augmented reality capabilities reduce the disconnection felt between physically visiting a store and shopping online. It also increases the personal connection between shopper and product, builds buyer confidence, excites an oversaturated market with novel experiences, and breeds brand loyalty and product recognition. If your company is looking to integrate AR into your eCommerce platform you can connect with our expert development team to discuss possibilities.

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