Is Augmented Reality the Future of Ecommerce?
You’ve decided to buy a new bookcase online because it looked absolutely perfect on the website while you were looking at it. You waited “patiently” for it to finally arrive, obsessively checking the shipping updates several times per day because you couldn’t contain your excitement to finally have a place to put your stack of books that will allow you to look like an adult who actually has your life together instead of an insane hoarder who will die crushed under an avalanche of books someday. The bookcase finally arrives and you put it together with your trusty allen wrench and you attempt to move it into the perfect space, but there’s a problem. The bookcase does not fit into the perfect location you have selected for it. The wind has been completely removed from your sails and you crawl into bed to watch comfort TV because you feel like a screwup. Well, I’m here to tell you that there are solutions to this that you can consider both as a customer and as a seller, so let’s take a look at Augmented Reality.
What Is AR?
Augmented Reality is pretty much exactly what it says in the name: you augment reality digitally. The most common examples of this are filters on Snapchat or other social media and games like Pokemon Go. AR is not to be mistaken for VR (Virtual Reality) as virtual reality is more immersive and requires quite a bit of hardware in order to work, where AR usually just requires your smartphone.
How Are Ecommerce Retailers Using AR?
The most common ecommerce use for AR is actually filters on social media. Many sellers will come up with a unique filter for Snapchat or TikTok that serves as an advertisement, often for companies that sell makeup or accessories like sunglasses. It’s also pretty easy to claim that AR games are used to sell microtransactions, such as in Pokemon Go, or really any AR games you’re going to find on your smartphone’s app store. Microtransactions are the name of the game for “free” games that are put up on the app stores. You also see things like online furniture stores using AR in order to figure out whether a piece will fit in the space a customer has. There are even online clothing retailers that use AR to allow customers to check fits.
How Does AR Help Ecommerce Retailers?
The biggest thing that AR does is drive engagement among your customers. If you offer an AR solution to a regular problem, such as whether a piece fits into their space, or whether the clothes will fit on the person then you have already gotten the customer envisioning that product will fit into their life. They’ve already seen the piece of furniture in their home, which not even traditional show floor models will allow, and that gives you a significant leg up on competitors that don’t offer the AR model. The same thinking applies to online clothes retailers. As we are moving away from the traditional clothing store offering an AR solution for how customers will look in your products will likely drastically reduce returns as long as your AR shows clothing as it actually fits. Honesty is important in this situation.
The first point in my conclusion is that AR is just really cool. Sure, it’s largely novelty that makes it cool, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. As for more business specific commentary, it is important to stay up to date on things like this. AR is not going anywhere and the applications for business will continue to become more and more saturated in the market. The best thing you can do if you are in a business that can take advantage of AR is to get onto that train because everyone else is going to before too long. The customer side of AR allows for customers to have an easier time with large purchases such as furniture, or even smaller purchases like clothes that will fit them just right. AR is an incredibly exciting technology for ecommerce because it cuts down on the pros that traditional commerce models have, while in some cases improving upon them, such as being able to see furniture in your space, instead of just in a showroom. It is rare that you are able to see the future of industries at such an early stage, but that is exactly what is happening with augmented reality. It is clear that AR is the future of ecommerce, and just like the advancements before it, you can either get on board or be left behind.