With their earliest & documented usage by the US Air Force at the Armstrong Laboratory in 1992, AR systems have quickly become one of the fascinating technologies in recent times. Their ability to provide computer-generated perceptual information across multiple sensory modalities quickly captivated the attention of the masses.
In 2010 the use of CAR (Commercial Augmented Reality) became prominent as various B2B and B2C commercial activities soon took charge to incorporate this technology, particularly for the retail industry.
According to a recent report published by E-Marketer®, worldwide spending on VR and AR reached $18.8 billion in 2019. Furthermore expected usage of AR this year in 2020 is expected to hit 83.1 million users. Moreover, the forecast for 2022 predicts the number of monthly users of AR to reach 95.1 million according to the report.
In light of this information, let us take a quick look at some of the ways through which the E-commerce Industry can utilize Augmented Reality technology and revolutionize online shopping experiences.
1. 3D Visualizations & Environments
Perhaps one of the most common yet charming features that online stores can implement using AR is to provide product demonstrations in real-time. This can be achieved by simply asking users to upload pictures where they would like to position or intend to use a particular product, and the AR will render the rest.
A current and working example of this case can be presently enjoyed by visiting Amikasa online, where they offer you an application that enables you to view products in your own room with the help of a 3D floor planner.
Presumably, as time progresses, many online stores would consider this technology for their own ventures, and AR will not only become mainstream for online stores but also a norm for customers to preview products in augmented environments.
2. Augmented User Experiences
Customer experience is the driving factor nowadays to generate immense opportunities for businesses to succeed and sustain their profitability in the long run. This is why many e-commerce domains would heavily invest in AR to create unique and differentiated experiences for customers that are not only enjoyable but immensely informative simultaneously.
A great example would be of returns and replacements where users can simply run an application that points their smart device’s camera on purchased goods and provide additional information in real-time. This can include the time of purchase, the amount paid, discount earned, expiry date, and time period under which a buyer can return or replace the good without incurring additional charges.
All of this information can be further stored on the e-commerce store’s proprietor smartphone app for future references.
3. Bringing Catalogs to Life
We are living in 2020, and while expectations for this year were sky high, the pandemic has rocked our lives and brought the world to its knees. People, in general, have been demanding the greater inclusion of technology into their daily lives that offers them greater facilitation and convenience for quite some time now.
AR would be able to quell and gratify such public demand by introducing online product catalogs that are marvelously interactive. Users would be able to play around with the product in a virtual environment that takes inspiration from both real-life and computer-generated imagery.
Not only would customers be able to rotate products with a 360-degree view, but they can also pretty much use the product in any way within the interface according to their preferences and interests. This will make product catalogs all the more innovative and fun to look at in the near future.
4. Envision Purchases
At times when we are out shopping for tangible goods such as home furniture and décor, a lot of cognitive dissonances can take place to confuse us whether to buy a product or not. This eventually leads us to make poor decisions hampered by our inability to envision how our purchases would look like in real life once they are brought home and placed at their designated spot or space.
AR can quickly resolve this problem by allowing users to combine the product and their home environment into a single interface where they can try out different furniture items and interior decorations to see what matches their needs and requirements perfectly.
A great example right now is that of IKEA, where they let customers use AR to give product reviews, especially for furniture and fixtures that can be placed in their actual homes.
5. Greater Branding Opportunities
With Amazon quickly becoming one of the biggest online stores in the world, there was no wonder that many brands and businesses reached out to build their own dedicated online shopping experiences through Amazon.
With AR fueling the pathway to the future, many brands would seek to deliver on improved and greater branding opportunities that the technology would offer for them to exploit. This can include online brand stores to provide immersive and even larger than life experiences for online users that could make them feel out of this world.
Imagine walking into a 3D-rendered version of a liquor bar owned by your favorite beverage company, and all you have to do is simply visit their domain online. The possibilities are virtually limitless, and no wonder many brands out there would seek to develop unique experiences for their online visitors and internet users that convey and relay their brand values and reinforce their brand image as well as identity.
6. Interactive & Engaging Features
When it comes to building user engagement through interactive media, AR withholds a tremendous potential to unlock future possibilities that can be both enthralling and extremely diversified to experience. One current example can be taken from the Quiver 3D coloring application available on Google Play Store.
This app uses AR that brings coloring pages to life and offers an immersive and engaging experience for people belonging to all ages. However, this just a basic example, hopefully in the future, e-commerce businesses would be able to deliver much more than that by offering customers the ability to not only play around with products but also offer a stimulating learning environment through interactive product tutorials and DIY guides.
This can even transform e-commerce stores into an academy of sorts where users can visit their stores and learn about the usage of different gadgets, tools, tech-related devices, machinery, equipment, and even sportswear.
7. Life-Like Product Showcase
Conceivably the biggest advantage AR has to offer for e-commerce stores in the future is to showcase life-like product previews that can be taken to the next level with further improvements in the technology. People can pretty much just point their smartphone cameras on their hands and select a product online to see how it would look in real life.
All they would be required to do is simply rotate, spin, and twist their arms, while the augmented reality app detects their movements and showcases the selected product in different angles and positions mimicking user movements.
An example could be a person wanting to purchase a milk carton, where they can simply open the app at any remote location, select the product, and then examine it without even having to visit the actual store in the first place.
8. Office Décor
It is pretty obvious that many e-commerce stores would also target businesses in general, especially B2B marketplace owners, that specifically deal with wholesale purchases. Amongst them, there would also be manufacturers of office equipment, machinery, and furniture that specifically sell products to establishments.
With AR, they would be able to showcase their products and inform users how much space they require in their offices to place particular machinery items or office equipment. This would save the hassle of the procurement departments who have to visit physical stores and take measurements of products before deciding to get such items shipped.
9. Personalized Online Shopping
Customers and clients are eager to appreciate when a brand or company goes out of the way to offer them personalized experiences. Hence AR would be remarkable in the sense where e-commerce stores could provide them with a personalized online shopping experience.
This would not only be customized but also be further adapted according to user preferences. Through AR, customers would be able to experience unique content online that caters to their needs and best matches their requirements.
10. Saving Customer’s Time
Lastly, AR for e-commerce stores would incredibly reduce customers’ time on making a decision whether to buy a product or not. This will come into effect due to the fact that AR would offer better viewing capacities for users online, and they would be able to examine the product or item in complete detail.
This will also help remove a lot of confusion from their end, and thus they will not be able to make a better decision, but more importantly, they would make decisions by being properly informed about the product.
The online shopping experience will inevitably be transformed once AR becomes mainstream and a norm for e-commerce stores. Many establishments are already making huge strides to make this technology available as quickly as possible for mass consumers out there.
AR will enable businesses operating online to capture the interest of consumers by creating a defiant connection between the real and the digital world. For more questions regarding the topic, please feel free to share your feedback or queries in the comment section below.