One of the hottest trends in eCommerce is augmented reality, which experts claim is now necessary for specific products online. Also, the Harvard Business Review has projected AR spending to reach $60 billion by the end of 2020.
It's important to note that AR is mainly for mobile devices and that mobile eCommerce sector sales grew 24.8% between 2016 and 2017, according to eMarketer. AR minimizes the physical limitations of online shipping, which is its biggest downfall. Seeing a product in their own home or office setting sharply increases engagement and reduces risk, increasing conversions. In addition to practical applications, AR services the need for a "wow factor." Advanced technology helps AR adopters pull ahead of the competition in terms of publicity and brand awareness until the technology becomes mainstream.
At-Home Placement Apps such as those by Amazon and IKEA allow shoppers to preview how a product will look within their premises. Not only does this application of AR provide convenience before purchase, but it also provides for staging the product after purchase without having to move heavy objects around a room or office to evaluate different arrangements. Online Fitting Rooms Imagine taking selfies to the next level and virtually "trying on" clothing and accessories for a sense of how they will look on you as opposed to a random model. Michael Kors was the first brand to test Facebook's AR advertising, which enabled people to "try on" a pair of sunglasses virtually before purchasing them.
Leveraging AR for publicity is all about using one's imagination. For example, consider Airwalk's invisible popup store back in 2010 as the first one of its kind, and one of the most recent renditions of such a feat by Bottega Veneta in Plaza 66 in Shanghai. Both exemplify a new paradigm on store locations that are entirely disconnected from traditional paradigms of online stores.
Remember, the goal is to provide improved customer service, so let's walk through how to combine that with AR.
1) AR increases the speed of shopping by removing physical barriers. Make it easy to "try on" multiple products at once.
2) Be sure to ask for feedback after a customer makes a purchase. Include follow-up emails, incentives for a return virtual or physical visit, and so on. Remember, while your store is high-tech, your customers are still human.
3) If the budget allows, develop your own app. It's challenging to get all the features you need and carve a sufficiently unique niche in AR with someone else's app. Plus, you may be able to license your app to non-competitors.
So, where does one begin the AR journey? With inspirations, of course! Check out the works and solutions by these companies: Zapworks. These folks provide tools and ideas on how you can leverage AR for marketing and sales enablement, not to mention customer service.
Augment is a service focused on virtual presentations of consumer-packaged goods, architecture and engineering, and manufacturing scenarios. If you're in the hunt for an eCommerce solution, whether traditional or AR-integrated, give us a shout!
We'd love to hear about your journey and provide help and resources as we have to countless satisfied clients.