7 Ways Augmented Reality Can Boost Your E-Commerce Sales
The Limitless Applications of Augmented Reality (AR)
What can Augmented Reality, otherwise known as AR, do for YOUR customers? One of the challenges of e-commerce over brick and mortar stores is getting products into the hands of customers in a way that helps answer questions, minimizes indecision and ultimately, gets customers to purchase more and return less.
AR utilizes technology to overlay virtual elements onto a real environment as seen through a customer’s smartphone or tablet helping customers visualize your products in ways unseen before in online retail. With AR, customers can visually place furniture in a virtual model of their space to really get a sense of the product and how it will fit in their home environment. They can test paint colors, match foundation, try on glasses, or otherwise alter product features like size, style and color to visualize and select their preference.
Augmented Reality renderings are improving exponentially making AR applicable for businesses in a multitude of categories. The technology allows businesses to bring the store to the customer, personalize the shopping experience, and differentiate themselves from the competition. Companies including Overstock, Sephora, Alibaba, Wayfair, Ikea, Speedo, Benefit Cosmetics, Columbia Sportswear, Amikasa, and Lego are all already using augmented reality or have an augmented reality strategy ready to launch.
Augmented Reality & Ease of Implementation
Augmented reality allows us an intermediary between the real world and the virtual world with the potential to advance e-commerce to an unheard-of level of convenience and interactivity for the consumer. Taking advantage of 2-D and 3-D modeling, virtual products can be projected into the real world via your phone so that potential buyers can test products anywhere, anytime. All the ease of online shopping with a more realistic, heightened, personalized shopping experience.
Unlike virtual reality (VR), AR is as easy to use as it is to implement because it doesn’t require dedicated hardware to run it. AR requires no special goggles, headset or haptic feedback gloves. Virtual reality maybe a little more exciting, but AR’s accessibility allows you to potentially reach any customer with a smartphone or tablet. Further, with the advent of IOS 12, AR can now be run on a phone’s browser as smoothly as any other piece of software. Updates to Android and other device operating systems are close behind.
Benefits of Augmented Reality in E-Commerce: What the Numbers Tell Us
Augmented Reality is a rapidly expanding 60-billion-dollar industry with nearly 2.3 trillion dollars in sales in 2017 and a projected 4.88 trillion dollars in 2021. A Vertebra consumer study found that 78% of virtual shoppers prefer AR to other, more traditional forms of media representation. The numbers bear out that users stay longer and buy more with AR.
This sentiment is clearly reflected by the early adopter companies: Lowe’s has seen a 104% increase in sales and Build.com has seen a 64% increase. A consumer report by Houzz found that individuals that were exposed to AR products purchased product at a rate 11 times higher than other consumers, coupled with an increased amount of time spent in the application. Looking at the individual consumers view of AR versus 2-D printed ad we can see where this market trend came from.
In one study, parents were shown a 2-D printed ad of a toy and just 45% said they would consider purchasing it. When shown an AR representation of the same toy, it was found that 74% of parents would consider purchasing. This is by no stretch coincidental or arbitrary, AR has a solid scientific background to explain its success over other types of product representation.
The furniture industry is no different. Thanks to Augmented Reality, there has been a huge boost in sales as detailed by Veronika Sonsev, a Forbes contributor.
40% of shoppers consider that they are ready to pay more for a product if they were allowed to test it through AR.
The Psychology of Augmented Reality in E-Commerce
Projected Ownership: When the consumer sees and interacts with the product in an Augmented Reality medium, they begin to feel a sense of ownership of the product increasing the likelihood they will purchase the product. Many consumers report that AR gives them a sense that what they are buying is their “property” and that this is one of the reasons that they purchase.
Novelty: Simply put, Augmented Reality is a new way to shop and so many people are drawn to the novel experience. AR offers consumers a glimpse into the future with a way of interacting with products that feels entirely new. Look no further than the wild, continued success of AR games such as PokemonGo and Jurassic World Alive. AR’s appeal as new and interactive will revolutionize the e-commerce industry just as it has the mobile gaming industry.
Sense of Security: Giving the consumer the ability to see a more realistic representation of the product and test it for themselves gives them a sense of security that they are getting what they think they are getting. AR enhances a sense of trust in the product. Not only does this help drive sales, but it also helps to reduce returns.
Some of the Inherent Benefits of an Augmented Reality Product Platform
Augmented Reality provides the ideal platform to allow the consumer to sample different styles and colors. In one study, it was found that approximately 77% of online shoppers preferred testing products using AR rather than just viewing picture of said variations. This ability to more fully explore different colors and designs also comes with a commercial benefit to the seller: 40% of online buyers would be fine with paying a higher price in order to be able to visualize the product in Augmented Reality.
One of the greatest limitations of the e-commerce industry is the inherent difficulty of trying to represent a product virtually; Augmented Reality can help bridge the gap between shopping at a physical location and shopping online by making it easier to represent merchandise and giving the consumer a better sense of what they are purchasing. In fact, it was found that 61% of consumers indicated that they preferred purchasing online with providers that used AR over those without because it felt more like real store experience. Not only can Augmented Reality enhance a customer’s understanding of the product, it enhances their overall experience leading to positive associations of the brand itself.
7 Ways Augmented Reality Can Boost Retail E-Commerce
Improves conversion rates and reduces returns
Enhances brand recognition and brand awareness
Allows customer to ‘try’ before they buy
Removes language barriers
Connects readers with printed content and visualizes product catalogs
Content is customizable to match user needs and enriches shopping experiences
Brings customers inside a store and allow users to gather in-store information
Early Adoption and Paths for the Future
Augmented Reality isn’t a transitory trend but rather the dawn of a new technology that helps bridge the gap between the brick and mortar and the virtual stores. Augmented Reality is even exploring completely new territory with regard to the overall customer experience. By rough estimate, just 1 in 10 companies are currently using AR to enhance their online stores experience for their customers. Still, 45% percent have indicated that they are currently in the experimental phase of incorporating AR into their e-commerce and another 35% have plans to begin work with Augmented Reality in the foreseeable future. This technology has a lot of room to grow and improve to provide and even more interactive, customizable experience for the average consumer.
72% of AR users said they purchased stuff they didn’t plan to buy, because of AR.
Here at Techsparq, we help companies across the globe compete in real time and prepare for the future today. To find out more about how Augmented Reality can boost your E-Commerce sales, reach out.