Based on a research study by Ernst and Young (EY), people mostly purchase electronics like computer-related items (40%), books (20%), travel & leisure (16%), clothing (10%), recorded music (6%), subscriptions (6%), gifts (5%) and investments (4%). 

If you combine the first three categories, you have a 76% share of items people prefer to buy online. 

But why are the numbers low in the other categories like clothing, footwear, music, gifts, etc.? 

People would rather believe & invest in buying leisure items online than other products. All they have to do is to do proper online research before purchasing the product. 

And in the case of non-electronic items like gifts, clothing, DIY Tools, etc., consumers prefer going off-line. The reason is simple too – fit the exact need, which is difficult when doing it on an online e-commerce website like Amazon, Meesho, Flipkart, BigBasket, etc.  

But here’s a catch that claims to give an immersive experience to buyers – Augmented Reality (AR)

AR lets consumers, products, services, and clients stand out while building relationships, helping win loyalty, and inspiring action.

Today’s biggest hurdles/challenges of online shopping are – a crowd of similar products and the non-availability of a whole sensory product experience. 

In the off-line mode (showrooms, suites, shopping malls, or simply the brick-and-mortar environment), you are free to try on clothes, footwear, utensils, touch fabrics, or see and observe just how oversized a couch would look in your room if purchased. 

A 360-degree virtual tour of the product you buy might seem promising, but it doesn’t allow you to have a sensory experience like you feel in a reality/natural environment.  

While a few things are possible in eCommerce, technically, it isn’t possible in eCommerce websites/web apps to have a sensory experience so that you can buy the item and get it delivered in the same shape, size, and quality.

Thus, in that case, Augmented Reality (AR) applications offer an excellent way for customers to have detailed and complete information about the products companies (SMBs/SMEs/Big business giants) put on the market before the consumers and potential buyers — right from their homes.

Let’s explore how Augmented Reality can help the eCommerce and Retail businesses grow.

Below is the list of items included in this blog post:

What is Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to augmenting or adding to/expanding the two-dimensional views into a world like our physical world. This technology does it by combining it with a layer of digital information. 

You can think of Jarvis (a beautiful example) in the Iron Man movie!!

What does an AR app do? 

It shows you the physical world superimposed with computer-generated images.

There’s a tremendous opportunity for AR/VR in Retail and eCommerce. 

Because people are investing time in other activities and cannot physically go into a showroom to buy furniture and plumbing items, utensils for the kitchen, etc., You may also say that people are becoming lazier and seeking comfort around the corner. Or, when making a purchase, there are still some purchases for which buyers need more contextual information.

Whatever the case for an individual, it is a fact that people have gotten used to eCommerce, and it needs help from AR technology to sell more and more non-electronic items and help sellers attract consumers to buy products. 

An AR app can make it easy for customers to buy DTC furniture and allow shoppers to customize and place true-to-scale 3D models of their products before them, making it feasible for consumers to check for size, shape, colors, etc., while boosting the sales for shoppers.

How Augmented Reality (AR) differs from Virtual Reality (VR)?

Augmented Reality Vs Virtual Reality, AR vs VR, AR, VR,

Often, most people use the terms “Augmented Reality” and “Virtual Reality” interchangeably, but they are pretty different.

VR is for an immersive experience, while AR augments the real world

Augmented Reality augments a world that is already around you. And you can still perceive it to some extent. Virtual Reality is about creating a world like Meta’s Oculus Quest. 

That is the development of an artificial world that gives people an immersive experience – a world in which artificial objects surround you. 

In Virtual Reality, it isn’t possible to see and experience the real world. 

Do you remember the game Pokémon Go by Nintendo, one of augmented Reality’s most notable projects to date? 

Pokémon Go allowed users to play the game while walking down the street to catch their Pokémon while looking at the natural environment through their phone’s camera that overlaid digital characters in specific places.

Virtual Reality needs equipment, while Augmented Reality is portable

To experience Virtual Reality, one needs to wear a headset and hold controllers in your hand. 

But be careful – you might be the person who punches their television while boxing in VR!

Thus, always make sure you have a safe physical environment is safe while experiencing the VR technology’s adventures. 

With AR, all you need is a smartphone/AR glasses. Because you’ll be fully aware of your surroundings, there would be no need to clear the room to experience this futuristic technology and enjoy its adventures.

It’s easy to experience AR than VR

More people can experience Augmented Reality than Virtual Reality since AR requires less equipment and little to no safety precautions. It makes AR more accessible. 

Whereas, if you create a VR app, there are only a bunch of people with VR equipment against the 3 billion smartphone users in the world today!

number of Smart phone Subscribers, Smart Phone, Worldwide data, Smartphone users,
Source: Statista

What are the different types of AR applications?

Every type of AR technology provides slightly different capabilities. Below is the list of some common kinds of augmented reality apps to consider:

Recognition-based AR

Such AR solutions, also known as Image Recognition or Marker-based AR, detect an object ( called the “marker”) before a camera and produces the required information about that object on display. That replaces the marker/object on display with its 3D version, making it easy for users to see the corresponding thing in its more detailed version when viewed from many angles.

Marker-less AR

This solution does not require the user to place a virtual object in a particular place. Instead, they can place it anywhere, and there’s no need to get the thing triggered by a specific object in the real world. You can then rotate and move the object as you wish.

Location-based AR

It is a type of markerless AR that uses geographic location to show the digital content in certain areas on a screen. 

For example, the Pokémon Go game is a location-based AR solution.

Projection-based AR

This AR solution creates a digital experience by projecting artificial light onto physical surfaces. Or, in some cases, users are allowed to interact with it. Common examples of Projection-based AR include the holograms we’ve all seen in sci-fi movies like Iron Man, Avengers, Star Wars, etc.

Stats for Augmented Reality in eCommerce 

Applications of Augmented Reality technology are powering an emerging world of tech-driven society. Advertisers in retail and eCommerce are taking note. Let’s get into some figures to have a closer look at how it is changing the course of the online market: 

  • Global AR advertising revenue grew to $1.41 billion in 2020, topping half a billion in 2019.  
  • An AR research study showed that advertising revenue could go beyond $8 billion by 2024.
  • Another report from eMarketer reported that more than 43 million individuals in the United States would use the social network AR at least once a month in 2020, 21% of social network users.
  • The estimation is that over 83 million people in the U.S. will use AR on some device at least once a month. And the numbers will surely rise to 95.1 million by 2022, according to eMarketer.
  • Based on another report, as of June 2020, 35% of U.S. citizens prefer to use AR to visualize the furniture or vehicle customizations.
  • A survey of U.S. retailers in June 2020 showed that 20% of people would invest in AR or VR to enhance the sales of their company’s online store, which is an 8% rise compared to the six months prior data.

Moreover, 5G availability will increase retailers’ interest in AR and VR since 5G has more bandwidth.

How Augmented Reality is helping eCommerce businesses 

Before purchasing, buyers who purchase items online need a preview of products and experience services in their environment and on their own time. Using AR, they can do so and are more likely to pick the right product at first sight. 

Virtually try out the products and services 

“It looked great on the mannequin.” 

Everybody

Eliminating frequent quotes in your customers’ minds would help your business increase conversion rates. Thus, if your customers take the chance in buying the product and it doesn’t work, you’ll have high return rates.  

Virtual try-on solutions are an excellent way for online shoppers and help them understand what they’re buying and how that product will work. There are many applications of AR like this. For example, in the case of clothing, accessories, makeup, and even eyeglasses like Lenskart.

Preview placement

What will those glasses look like on your face, Rachel? How big will that sofa look in your living room? Answers to all these questions are harder to tell even when you’re at the store looking at the physical item. Preview placement allows consumers to experience a product’s appearance when placed in the natural environment.

Interactive user manuals

Imagine you’re selling a sophisticated product that needs learning before new customers can begin to use it. And you are well aware that you know quickly from visuals. Hence,  an interactive user manual might be a great AR application in that case to help users better understand how a particular product works. 

An interactive user manual helps people easily understand a piece of software, website, or app, for instance, by indicating certain buttons in the real-life environment with graphical arrows and animations with text.

Use of social media filters

You have probably used Instagram. Don’t say no! I know, everyone does these days!! HAh!

Anyway! If you’ve, then you have shared Instagram or Snapchat Stories too! You can apply certain AR filters to your short video or image there. What does it do? It gives different effects. These AR filters were once for fun, but over the years, most brands are jumping on the AR bandwagon because of the social media effect propelled by people. 

Benefits of Introducing Augmented Reality into your Online Store

Representing a physical, 3-D product in a virtual, 2-D environment is tedious. AR can help in this regard. 

Here are some practical observations about AR that can help you:

  • Raise customer engagement AR is interactive, making customers quickly hooked on a site and making them more likely to remember you in the future.
  • Approach new customers You only need to create a buzz to get people’s attention in this noisy world. You are making an engaging AR campaign that will help you attain it. 
  • Lower returns AR can give customers more info about your product and services than a static image or video. 

Ways in which you can bring Augmented Reality into your eCommerce store

If you have cuffed your seatbelts to use Augmented Reality in your eCommerce activities business, here are a few things to consider:

Have a clear idea about your business objectives

Ask a question – What is there that you want to achieve by introducing the AR tech? And how will it help your customers? These questions are essential since they help you develop an excellent AR application/app. Be precise in understanding – what you want the customer experience/user experience to achieve. 

Therefore, work hard and smartly in finding your vision and goals. Then jump into the technical aspects of your AR app, but not before. Once you know that, it’ll be a smoother ride. Finally, choose the tech and techniques you need.

Identify augmented reality tools you would like to use

When you know what you want to develop/create, it’s easy to identify the tools and techniques. Thus, there are a few aspects you can take into account while developing the Tool: 

Type of a License

For a limited budget, go for an AR platform that offers a free license. But remember – the free version won’t be robust as the full software.

Devices the Tool can Support

You may think that a tool is great and let’s use it, but it also has to support the hardware for the smooth functioning of your augmented reality app. Make sure the Tool supports the hardware, whether it is a mobile device, laptop, or AR glass.

Support For Operating Systems

Make sure to develop the AR app on those mobile app development platforms that support almost all operating systems. 

Capabilities

Carefully examine and determine the Tool – what exact features do you need? For example, geolocation functionality to create a location-based AR app. 

Marketing the Tool

Now that you’re ready with your Tool, you’ll want that the world knows it. So, here are a few ways that can help you immensely in getting the word out: 

Demo video(s) – Make promotional videos demonstrating how to use it. 

In-app instructions – Provide people with straightforward ways to understand what they’re supposed to do? And How to get the most out of your AR app.

Make your content shareable – Enable users to share their AR experience with friends and social media contacts.

Wrapping up the Story!!

There are product categories that are a tough sell on eCommerce websites. That’s because it’s pretty tedious even to interpret how the products will be in real life vs. on a computer or mobile display. AR applications — particularly in the wake of social distancing due to the Covid-19 outbreak — are increasing in demand. 

This blog post has provided information on different types of augmented reality techs, associated use cases, and the advantages of using them in your next eCommerce business. Also, this article beautifully mentions – how you can evaluate whether you’re making the right choice for your eCommerce business. And if that’s the case, you can follow the above steps or get in touch with us to bring your next AR app to life.


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