There’s growing sentiment in the mobile AR world that apps aren’t the optimal vessel. Yet the technology lives on a device where apps rule. 90 percent of mobile users’ time is spent in apps versus the browser. Can AR break that cycle? And if so, could web AR be the answer?
What is web AR? In short, it delivers AR experiences through the mobile browser. Advantages include dynamism for AR’s serendipity and short sessions, versus the friction of app stores and downloads. There, “activation energy” dampens already-challenged AR adoption.
For example, will consumers spend 90 seconds downloading an app for an experience that lasts 30 seconds? Consider this in light of dynamic AR activations within a store aisle or real-world social interaction. These scenarios happen fast and need AR formats that can be the same.
In these moments of dynamic activation, AR formats that can launch with minimal friction and maximum compatibility will gain the most traction. These factors will also grow in importance as brands and retailers increasingly plant AR activation markers on products and spaces.
But how will web AR reach that potential? What are best practices for web AR experiences and marketing campaigns? And who’s doing it right so far? Our research arm ARtillery Intelligence tackled these questions in its recent report, which we’ve excerpted below.
We continue to see metrics that validate AR’s ability to boost product sales. This can be in both eCommerce and in-aisle contexts. The former is more pertinent in the recent environment of lockdowns but the latter could shine in retail, particularly in a post-COVID era.
The latest evidence comes from the Home Depot, which reports that its AR product visualization feature boosts conversions 2x-3x over eCommerce benchmarks. Its AR feature lets customers visualize a range of products in-home through the smartphone camera before purchasing.
As further background, the Home Depot employed a web-AR approach, given the technology’s relatively-low friction in launching in-home (or anywhere) AR experiences. It also has more online products supported by AR visualization than the products that fit in a Home Depot store.
This has been a big area of investment for Home Depot as it has refocused digital efforts in the pandemic, including 100 percent growth in Q2 2020 online sales. For such an extensive and high-variant (sizes, colors) product catalog, AR visualization is particularly additive.
Meeting the Moment
The theme in all the above is meeting the moment. eCommerce inflected in the Covid-era. Brands that shifted with it outperformed competitors. This can be seen from others such as Target and Walmart who leaned into touchless fulfillment models such as curbside pickup.
But more than their temporal importance, these new shopping and commerce models may cause permanent habits and demand signals. In other words, consumers have developed the taste for streamlined shopping, time savings, and tech-enabled procedural efficiencies.
This means that the post-Covid world could be a hybrid of old and new “normals,” where new shopping methods can be cherry-picked for implementation. AR is on that list. Retailers and brands that meet this demand could develop first-mover advantages in the post-Covid world.