How Is Augmented Reality Changing eCommerce?

AR has changed the way consumers interact with eCommerce platforms. Let us have a closer look at how AR is transforming the eCommerce industry.
Charmy Dafda
Aug 19

Ever since its inception, eCommerce has changed the lives of consumers and catapulted businesses to unprecedented growth. The advent of the pandemic also contributed to increased demand for better eCommerce platforms as consumers could not visit the offline stores. Let us have a look at one of the many aspects of its evolution, namely, the introduction of Augmented Reality and how it will shape the future for digital retailers.

Augmented Reality In eCommerce Shopping

Immersive technologies have constantly been transforming every industry since their introduction. E-Commerce businesses, including both B2B and B2C models, are amongst the front-runners in implementing AR functionalities to enhance the end-user experience. Shopify was one of the first to introduce AR features on its website, and we have seen many advancements since then. With the industry leaders introducing new and innovative features to attract a wider range of customers, the e-Commerce shopping experience also has changed enormously.

What earlier used to be just simple buying and selling platforms have now evolved to allow drafting digital information onto real-world environments aiming to ease customer experience. In this article, we will be focusing on how AR has changed the shopping experience for B2C consumers. Let’s begin!

How Are eCommerce Businesses Using Augmented Reality (AR)?

E-Commerce businesses are using AR to create enticing user interfaces that keep the customers engaged on the platforms. The new experience includes a variety of advanced features that morph the real world to present them with better buying options. Some of the widely used features include:

1. Product Visualization

In the initial days, digital commerce platforms did not offer consumers any options to view the products they were interested in except for 2D images. These images were often misleading because of the limitations of the technology. Also, consumers could not find out what the product would look like in the real world. With AR, products can be visualized in a real-world situation.

For example, a furniture retailer can have features in their app to show what a sofa would look like in your living room. Such features redefine the customer journey.

2. Virtual Try-On

Another feature that is quite popular with online buyers is trying wearables using AR. Regardless of how good the merchandise is displayed on the online platform, it cannot replace the experience of actually trying it in person to find out how good or bad it looks on you. Augmented reality in e-Commerce came to the rescue and allowed consumers to see how a product looks on them, all while being in the comfort of their homes. These features are quite popular within the fashion industry.

3. Interactive User Guides

Not everyone is good at gathering information using age-old methods like boring scripts. And why should this be a setback? Augmented reality allows consumers to learn more about products using interactive user manuals. Features such as on-page contextual support, dynamic animations, graphs, etc., help users learn about how a product works much faster than a heap of texts that would only add to the complexity of the learning process.

How To Integrate AR Into Your eCommerce Business?

To begin with integrating AR in their e-Commerce platforms, businesses first must go through a comprehensive research process. It must include identifying their requirements and expectations of the outcomes or features that their platform should provide using AR. Also, the implementation of AR for websites can still have limited use compared to mobile phones. Businesses need to ensure which platform they are targeting for which feature.

Once the requirements are studied and finalized, they can contact AR developers or agencies that provide these services. If their requirements are minimal, they can also opt for plug-and-play options available. AR is getting commoditized. Businesses do not need to be technically involved; they can get what features they need online with a few simple clicks. The decision of whether to go for building an e-Commerce solution with advanced AR integrations from scratch or adding plugins is completely dependent on the requirements of the application.

The next factor to consider is the cost of development. Developing a solution from scratch is going to have a higher cost than adding plugins that can be implemented within weeks. The number of animations required, number of characters used, number of user journeys involved in getting the platform up and running, etc., are also some factors that contribute to the eventual costs of building an AR-integrated e-Com solution. Given all these considerations, businesses are still increasingly investing in integrating AR as the rewards are higher.

Benefits Of Integrating AR

Introducing advanced AR functionalities works to provide a positive experience for both consumers and businesses. Let us view some of these advantages in detail:

1. Higher Customer Retention Rates

AR helps customers have a better shopping experience, so they tend to stay loyal to the brands. Businesses can also run various customer rewards and loyalty programs using AR. One of the primary goals of a business is to increase ROI. When customers are satisfied with the services they get, this target will eventually be attained.

2. Lower Product Return Rates

When customers can visualize or try products in AR beforehand, the buying decisions will rarely change. Businesses can save the costs otherwise required in the product return and exchange services.

3. Higher Customer Reach

A brand can market itself more using AR. The increasing variety of AR features implemented attracts more customers. The higher the customer reach, the higher the revenue.

4. Better Longevity of Platform

Businesses have an option to customize the AR for future requirements. If certain features do not need to be rolled out currently, they can be saved to be rolled out in the future. It increases the longevity of AR infrastructure. Businesses do not need to reinvest in adding AR functionalities.

Future Of AR In eCommerce Shopping Experience

The competitive industry of e-Commerce is rapidly growing along with AR technology. According to a report by Statista, the market size of AR will be close to worth $300 billion by the year 2024. In the future, we expect to see newer and more immersive digital experiences using this advanced technology. Experts also speculate Virtual Reality will take over offline stores and redefine the online shopping experience forever.