AR’s role as a shopping utility continues to be validated. That includes its ability to boost conversion rates and reduce product returns. It can also combine the best of eCommerce (pricing, endless aisles, etc.) with physical retail (IRL product perspective and dimension).

As we examined recently, AR shopping is still in early adopter phases but gradually assimilating among mainstream audiences. And like past e-commerce integrations like high-definition photography, a tipping point could come when it shifts from acclimation to expectation.

But where are we in that process? One of AR shopping’s early leaders, Snap, has begun to answer that question through the sheer volume and growth of AR shopping on its platform. Much of this data was unveiled at Snap’s Investor Day last week – the focus of this week’s Data Dive.

The Immersive Commerce Era: AR & Shopping Collide

Data Dive

Jumping into the figures, the highlight is that 250 million Snapchat users have engaged with AR shopping lenses in the past year. More notably, total shopping lens engagements have reached five billion. To put that into perspective, it’s almost as many humans on the planet.

Also notable is the fact that Snap now has 750 million monthly active users (MAUs). Because it usually focuses on daily active users, the last MAU figure we heard was 600 million last year. This is a 25 percent jump in just 10 months, and well on the way to Snap’s one-billion target.

For more perspective, here are the data highlights we pulled from Snap’s investor day, including AR-specific metrics as well as overall (beyond-AR) usage data for perspective.

Overall Engagement

– Snapchat has 750 million monthly active users

– An average of 5 billion+ Snaps are created every day.

– U.S. users open Snapchat 40 times per day on average, 60 percent of whom create Snaps.

– Users collectively share memories an average of 280 million times per day.

– For five years after Snapchat users’ first year on the platform, annualized average retention is 90 percent.

AR/Lens-specific Engagement

Two out of three users engage with AR daily.

– More than 70 percent of new Snapchat users engage with AR during their first day on the app.

– In the past year, 250 million+ Snapchat users have engaged with AR Shopping Lenses a collective 5 billion+ times.

– Cumulatively, 300,000+ creators and developers have built 3 million+ Lenses.

Snap Launches Ray Tracing in Lens Studio

Shoppable AR

Beyond consumer benefits, a more visually-informed shopper can help brands and retailers. As noted, AR visualization has demonstrated an ability to boost conversions and basket sizes. It can also reduce returns, which are collectively a $550 billion annual headache.

But for AR to reach these goals, products have to be shoppable. This combination of AR visualization and easy check-out continues to be cultivated. For example, it’s a key feature in Walmart’s new partnership with Snap, given a “buy now” button that follows AR visualization.

Meanwhile, other Snap moves accelerate the appeal of AR shopping by making product try-ons more robust. Just last week, Snap introduced ray tracing which simulates an environment’s natural light. This improves realism and light reflection for high-ticket items like jewelry.

All the above flows into Snap’s ambitions to broaden the products where AR shines (literally in the above case). This represents a gradual transition to from front-facing camera AR (selfie lenses), to rear-facing activations that further acclimate consumers to AR shopping.

Speaking of acclimation, that brings us full circle to the concept of mainstreaming AR. Historically, technology in eCommerce (such as digital images as noted) starts as an enhancement, then elevates to expectation. And that’s when brand and retailer adoption can really inflect.

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