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Augmented Reality for E-commerce: the Why and How

by Olga Ezzheva

With the relentless pursuit of customer experience excellence and the competition getting tougher by day, online merchants are often spread too thin. Feeling the pressure to step up their game, e-commerce brands are looking for new ways to meet consumer demand and differentiate their business.

Rising to the challenge is augmented reality, which promises to reinvent online shopping for customers and drive sales. As AR is approaching technological maturity, businesses are wising up to AR-enabled opportunities and are making AR an integral part of their strategy.

So, let us focus on two main questions — why you need AR for your custom e-commerce development project and how you can do it.

Why do you need AR for your e-commerce business?

Supercharge Customer Engagement

A pillar to e-commerce success, customer engagement comes in many forms. Exceptional service, personalized offers, and brand storytelling all contribute to fostering an engaged and loyal audience.

Augmented reality opens a new dimension to customer engagement. Highly interactive in nature, the technology enables brands to deliver creative digital experiences. Think AR-powered product discovery, context-driven personal recommendations, or interactive tours. On top of that, AR adds gamification, making the entire online shopping process more fun.

Boost Conversion Rates

Fun as it is, online shopping has one major drawback that stops users from converting into customers. Without actually seeing and trying the product, it’s difficult to decide whether it’s a good fit for us. Augmented reality can make all the difference.

Through interactive 3D object presentation, AR encourages users to see in great detail how a selected product will function in a real environment, shaping the purchase decision. A well-informed decision, in turn, translates into a significantly lower return rate — a win-win for both a buyer and a happy customer.

Reach New Customers

With the spending power of $143 billion, Gen-Zers are becoming a much-coveted group for retailers and e-commerce stores. But to successfully market to this digital-native generation, brands need to adapt their approach and leverage all that digital has to offer.

Incorporating AR into your marketing strategy helps position your brand as forward-thinking and attracts digital natives. Take it from the e-commerce giants. Amazon introduced its AR View to let users see thousands of items in the settings of their own homes. Instagram, too, now lets you shop with augmented reality.

How can you integrate AR into your e-commerce strategy?

Immersive Product Catalogs

AR-powered catalog apps help brands bring their products to life. For those online stores that do not have a showroom, these virtual catalogs are a great way to allow customers to not only get the look and feel but also to customize configurations according to their preferences.

Imagine trying a sofa in different colors to see what matches your interior best. Ikea’s app lets you do just that. Taking things a step further, you can enhance your AR-driven e-commerce app with machine learning capabilities to analyze a user’s environment and offer tailored recommendations based on the context and previous purchase history.

Virtual Fitting Rooms

Just like exploring different interior design options, an AR-fueled mobile app can let you try on clothes, jewelry, accessories, and even makeup. To delight its customers with novel experiences and boost brand recognition, Converse has launched the Sampler app, which lets you try on a pair of shoes to see how they look, snap a picture, and share it with friends.

These virtual fitting rooms can also solve the size problem for potential buyers. An AR-enabled app captures a user’s measurements and reproduces the accurate silhouette so that customers can try on clothes and adjust size as needed until they find a perfect fit.

Interactive User Manuals

Augmented reality can help you further nurture a relationship with your customers even after the sale. For that, provide your customers with AR-enhanced product manuals and interactive tours to guide users through complex installation and maintenance processes or teach them how to use additional features.

These compelling demonstrations through life-like AR animations enable customers to get the most of their purchase while improving the overall shopping experience and boosting satisfaction — exactly what you need to cement users’ loyalty with your brand.

Wrapping up

According to Gartner, in 2020 100 million customers will shop in augmented reality, both online and in-store. With these numbers in mind, it’s about time to jump on the AR bandwagon and start reaping the benefits of stellar customer engagement, improved conversion rates, and wider reach.

Olga Ezzheva is a technical writer at Oxagile. A version of this article originally appeared in Street Fight, reproduced here under an editorial partnership. 


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