Traditionally in shopping, there’s been a delineation between products that are conducive to ecommerce versus in-store. The former includes discretionary items and commodities, while the latter leans towards jewelry, designer clothing and high ticket items like cars & couches.
Of course there are exceptions in categories like clothing, and the lines continue to blur. Throw in a pandemic and comfort levels with eCommerce – driven by necessity – have inflected. Beyond demand, the supply side has also met the moment to improve eCommerce.
One of those areas is AR. Visualizing products on faces & spaces has brought new utility and capability to online shopping. Along with Covid-era eCommerce inflections and AR, brand & retailer savvy are converging to create a perfect storm of consumer shopping disruption.
But AR isn’t a silver bullet, and some things still need to be seen and felt in real life. We don’t foresee many people buying engagement rings through AR anytime soon. So what products are most primed for AR? This was explored through a recent survey by YouGov and Zakeke.
Diving into the survey results (n=1,127 US adult online shoppers), 41 percent want personalized shopping experiences. Breaking that down by product category, apparel and shoes lead (30 percent each). That’s followed by home goods (25 percent) and furniture (19 percent).
This personalization can happen through targeted marketing as well as customization options in the shopping flow. The latter includes suggestions based on browsing history (36 percent) customizing products online (32 percent), and suggestions for complimentary/matching items.
As for AR-related sentiments, consumers want the option to interact with products before they buy. The product where this is felt most generally have a high degree of variation or nuance, including apparel (35 percent), shoes (34 percent), and household furniture (29 percent).
“Retailers in this space must ensure they have the tools (2D, 3D, AR) necessary for customers to interact with that will better inform their purchase,” the report’s authors wrote. “[They] need to invest in the right kind of technology that’s easy to use for retailers and consumers.”
Breaking down some of the above results, some expressly signal AR as a visualization technology in demand. Other data points indirectly compel AR as they represent consumer sentiment for more personalization and product interaction. AR could be the tool to scratch that itch.
The lesson here is that these consumers don’t know what they don’t know. They need to be taught about the benefits of AR. The report’s authors assert that brands and retailers should be the ones to do that. Rather than waiting for AR demand, they should jumpstart it.
The historical lesson often cited here is the smartphone revolution. Brands, publishers and retailers that took a wait & see approach didn’t have enough of a running start when consumer adoption suddenly spiked. There could be usable lessons in that cautionary tale.
“Specialty retailers who offer products like clothing and shoes need to invest in technology that makes it easy for consumers to “see” what their possible purchases will look like,” the report states, “as it will foster increased sales and reduce the number of returns.”