Best Practices for Leveraging Augmented Reality in E-Commerce
Online shopping has undergone many drastic changes in recent years as consumers demand a personalized, convenient experience right in their homes. To address this shift in consumer sentiment, e-commerce brands are leveraging new technologies, trends and partnerships to help improve their customer experience and convert more browsers into buyers.
One trend picking up momentum is the use of augmented reality (AR). In fact, a 2016 study revealed that 61 percent of consumers would prefer to shop on sites that use AR over those that do not. As AR solutions become more widespread, it’s important for retailers to understand the benefits they offer, both in terms of customer experience and sales conversions.
A Modern Twist on ‘Try Before You Buy’
So, why do so many consumers want AR to be a part of their online shopping experience? We already know that consumers are drawn to online shopping because of its convenience. However, one of the most common drawbacks is the inability to view an item in person and/or try it to assess size, shape and color. When introduced into an e-commerce site, AR features enable a shopper to view a to-scale version of an item through their device’s camera to see how it will appear in the desired location within their home. The model works similarly with clothing and accessories; a shopper can “try on” glasses, earrings, hats and more in a virtual, interactive experience on the brand’s app or website.
Enabling shoppers to more accurately determine if the product they’re interested in will fit the needs and space they have in mind results in less abandoned shopping carts and fewer product returns. It can also lead to an increase in revenue per user, as 40 percent of shoppers revealed that they would be willing to pay more for a product that they can preview using AR. Additionally, 72 percent shared that they have purchased something they weren't planning to after experiencing it through AR. The chance to explore features and visualize a 360-degree preview offers a more immersive experience than a photo set on a typical e-commerce page by showing shoppers exactly what they’ll be paying for without having to visit a store.
Making AR More Accessible
With all these proven benefits, it’s no wonder that many major brands are now jumping on the AR bandwagon. However, many of the retailers currently incorporating AR are doing so in their branded apps with the help of developers, an expensive model that's inaccessible for many smaller brands. For this reason, some companies are beginning to offer AR solutions that are browser-based and web-enabled, which can be incorporated into any retail site for a fixed rate.
Think of this platform as an AR plug-in for e-commerce sites. Brands can now hire a third-party AR solutions company to create a unique embed code that can be entered into the site’s infrastructure. This action quickly and easily brings the AR features consumers are looking for to a brand’s existing online store for a much lower cost than creating an app and hiring a developer to build an AR platform from scratch.
As AR solutions for e-commerce continue to gain traction throughout the industry, we can expect to see more brands explore these accessible and cost-effective platforms. This democratization of the web-based AR experience allows online retailers to provide a more immersive, streamlined experience for shoppers and stay in competition with major brands that are taking AR mainstream.
Evan Gappelberg is the CEO of NexTech AR, a leader in web-based augmented reality for e-commerce.
Related story: Wayfair Using Augmented Reality to Help Sell Furniture