Imagine an online store where customers can see the products they desire in front of them — interested in a new carpet? Plop it down virtually in your current living room to see how it will look surrounded by your existing furniture. 

This might sound far-fetched, but it’s real – and on the rise.

“Buy +” Tech giant Alibaba’s VR shopping tool.

This technology is called Augmented reality (Often referred to as AR); it’s the most convenient and rapidly-growing immersive technology available to customers. AR has been around for ages, with the earliest examples being developed in the early 1990s by the US Airforce -yet, AR wasn’t ready for the mass consumer market — until now.

The biggest and most famous example of AR consumerism would be the mobile app Pokemon Go. Released in 2016, this mobile game made use of Augmented Reality to display collectible monsters in the real world, only visible through your phone’s camera lens. The app erupted in popularity, peaking at 45 MILLION daily users within its first two weeks of being live.

Since then, AR technology has flown under the radar, with no major releases emulating the success of Pokemon Go, but it seems that AR has recently found a new home – eCommerce. Moving holograms, interactive exhibits, and virtual 3D models are the perfect fit for online stores, especially since they allow you to emulate the physical retail experience that disappeared in 2020.

In this blog, we will be discussing what augmented reality means for eCommerce, and how we can use it to expand our business and increase sales.

How does AR benefit my store?

Increased engagement

Using 3D tech like Augmented Reality can increase user engagement on your website up to 66 percent. Higher engagement means that customers spend more time on your store – translating directly into more sales. Even if the customer leaves without purchasing, this increase of development means that they have developed a positive idea of your website, making them much more likely to return and purchase in the future.

Higher conversion rates & reduced returns

While keeping customers glued to their screens longer, AR can help boost your sales too. Offering much more info than your run-of-the-mill images and text, the 3D view of the product allows users to see precisely what the product looks like – leading to easier sales.

Returns can be backbreaking for a business. eCommerce stores suffer up to five times more returns than physical retailers. Retailers have to get creative in reducing the number of returns; that’s where AR fits perfectly. Emulating the in-store experience, AR allows you to experience the reduced return rates that physical retailers have. 

So, in addition to making more sales, you can also anticipate to hang on to more of that revenue. 

The “WOW” factor

Another big factor that AR brings to the table, is simply the fact that it’ll blow your customers’ mind! Customers will be way more likely to pay higher prices for products presented in such a modern and unique way, seeing your products as premium. 

How can I utilize AR in my online store?

Depending on what you’re selling, Augmented Reality can be used in an infinite amount of creative ways – let’s take a look at how top brands adopted it:

IKEA was a bold early adopter of AR, releasing their “Place” app back in 2017. This app allows users to choose any IKEA furniture piece and place it directly in their living room. Using only your phone’s camera, the app scans and analyzes the room, then places the furniture how it would fit with extreme accuracy.

Ikea’s Place app in action.

The same idea can be used for any merchant selling large products that would be difficult to return if they don’t fit.

Nike’s app allows users to scan your feet using AR, allowing your feet to be paired with the perfect shoe-size. This implementation of AR uses your camera to perform a 3D scan on the user’s feet, calculating the dimensions, size, shape and volume of your foot; for the perfect fit.

This feature isn’t just some gimmick – Nike is so confident in the AR measurements, that it has also been implemented in physical stores, as the go-to method of calculating what size you should buy.

AR is extremely useful in this aspect, as when buying clothes online, you often sit with the headache of wrong sizes and tricky returns.

How can I add AR to my online store?

Implementing AR requires a relatively modest investment of time and money, but the end result is well worth it. Here’s you to add it to your online store:

  1. Select AR software of your choice. There are different AR solutions available, depending on what your store needs. A quick google search should send you down the rabbit hole of finding the one that fits you best.
  2. Gather required files. Your virtual representations have to built from something – that’s where CAD files fall into place. CAD is a 3D modeling software that allows you to transform your real-world products into a digital representation. There are other 3D modeling software solutions, but CAD is the most popular and widely accepted.
  3. Start the setup proccess. Depending on which AR solution you decided on using, the setup proccess will be different – however, if you have the correct files, it should be quick and painless.

Conclusion

Finally being recognized, AR is a powerful tool for any online merchant. Emulating the engagement of physical stores without the covid-risk, is invaluable. Ready to launch your online store with AR capabilities? 

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