Immersive shopping is proving to have experiential impact for consumers, and revenue impact for brands. Related to – but separate from – AR advertising, this is when AR is used as a tool to visualize and contextualize products to engender more informed consumer purchases.

This is a subset of AR that we call camera commerce. It comes in a few flavors, including visualizing products on “spaces and faces.” It also includes visual search – pointing one’s smartphone camera at a given product to get informational, identifying, or transactional overlays.

In each case, AR brings additional context and confidence to product purchases. And this value has been elevated during a pandemic, as AR brings back some of the product dimension and tactile detail that’s been taken away from consumers during retail lockdowns.

Synthesizing these factors, ARtillery Intelligence recently produced a report to dive into the drivers and dynamics of camera commerce. How is the field shaping up? Who’s doing what? And how big is the market opportunity? We’ve excerpted the report below for AR Insider readers.

Camera Commerce: AR Monetization Materializes

AR’s Value Chain

One gating factor to the overall camera commerce opportunity is its value chain. In other words, the graphical elements that comprise its experiences require a certain degree of production and distribution rigor. We’re talking graphically-intensive (large file) 3D models.

This presents gaps in camera commerce such as infrastructure and distribution for 3D models. That includes things like compression technologies, and rendering workflows to get images to the right places. This segment is represented by innovators such as VNTANA and Mawari.

Another opportunity is for platforms that can streamline the creation of 3D assets. This already exists in one sense, considering 3D model creation engines. Here there’s a rich pipeline of tools that address different types of graphics and skillsets – everything from Unity to Sketchfab.

There’s also Adobe Aero, a tool that offers a drag & drop creation environment for 3D content. One of its biggest advantages is that it plugs right into Adobe Creative Suite, which is a ubiquitous platform for creative professionals, including tools like Photoshop and Premiere.

Meanwhile, tools for the creation and distribution of AR ad experiences include 8th Wall and NexTech AR solutions* among others. And an ecosystem will continue to form around other parts of the AR marketing value chain such as creative agencies and ad networks.

Is AR Shopping Cheaper to Produce Than Traditional eCommerce?

AR as a Service

A separate but related need in camera commerce is 3D product scans. In order to provide AR product visualization experiences, realistic scans of a given product are required. And there are companies that specialize in doing so, such as CG Trader in hard goods, and QReal in food.

There are also homegrown solutions. IKEA, Wayfair and others have developed in-house systems to 3D-scan their product libraries. But the real opportunity is for standardized methods that can help them scale up 3D image libraries, and bring it within reach of smaller down-market players.

Shopify has also addressed this down-market need to a certain degree by bringing AR product visualization to 600,000 small businesses on its platform. To better “democratize” AR visualization, it offers ways for its merchants to deploy 3D graphics in Apple’s Quick Look AR feature.

Altogether, this branch of the camera commerce value chain falls into a broader category we call AR as a Service (ARaaS). Like software as a service began to do a decade ago, ARaaS will democratize advanced AR functionality and architecture to lower the barriers to bring it to market.

This will be a rapidly developing subsegment of AR that will have lots of opportunity gaps for innovative startups to fill. We’ll pause there and circle back in the next report excerpt to continue examining the camera commerce opportunity and all its moving parts.

*The author of this post owns stock in NEXCF, see AR Insider’s full disclosure and ethics policy here.

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