Today Augmented Reality is currently all the rage now for online shopping and selling. Just check the stats published by Gartner earlier this year. It is predicted that 100 million consumers will shop in Augmented Reality Online and also in store by 2020. By using your mobile phone, you have ease of access to a shopping mall, right in your pocket. It is estimated that over half of all e-commerce sales are made from a mobile device. When we combine that with Augmented Reality apps, we can really start the grasp the growth potential of this market.
Augmented Reality Apps are currently trending across mobile app stores for both Android and iOS. It is no longer a cool toy, and has a real use case in e-commerce.
So what is Augmented Reality?
By using your mobile device’s camera, we can input the real world into our device. By use of clever algorithms and AI image processing, we then overlay extra layers of digital information that ‘augments (adds to)’ our original image. It is the combination of real and virtual worlds. Starting to get the potential of this technology for e-commerce?
There are plenty of use cases for online commerce, more importantly there exists whole industries that are traditionally more suited to offline sales that this technology will certainly disrupt. It’s great for businesses with customers that like to ‘try before they buy’. Think about beauty and home improvement (or even new home sales!). We’ll discuss more on that below.
Before we can understand how this technology will help e-commerce mature further, we need to understand the drawbacks of e-commerce that exist today. Why do people, in certain industries chose to shop offline more than online?
Often, it’s not entirely possible to discover just how an item will look in your home without getting a sample of it first. There are a lot of items that exist where you need to see it in person before buying it, or consumers will need to see how it matches in their home, to their interiors, on their face in the case of beauty products and more. All of this will help to minimize returns (and the dreaded misery of online returns with high shipping costs!) retailers can start to utilise augmented reality apps to help guide the customer through the purchase process and reduce customer anxiety points about their products that images alone might not alleviate. A solid return policy is one of the largest influencing factors cited when buying a product, if we minimize the risk of return – at least in the consumers mind, we’ve won.
With the use of augmented reality it is now possible to view your entire stores range with photorealistic images in a virtual reality headset, however that is outside the scope of this article. We’re showcasing augmented reality, and the use cases are so great for e-commerce we’ve listed some of them below!
The best case of augmented reality can be seen in cosmetic websites selling beauty products. Big brands such as L’Oreal and Olay have been using this app/use case for many years. These two brands makeup (no pun intended!) the largest share of the beauty market today.
Augmented reality helps beauty sites for testing makeup and also to sell skincare products. Thus, color selection for lipsticks eyeshadows and even foundation become convenient. Other than this some makeup apps also use this technology. Skincare products are suggested by detecting the problem, and then showing the consumer how their face might look if they cleared up that blemish, a great selling point by showing the problem it will solve.
A major pain point for furniture and floor retailers is trying to see how the product will look in their home before buying. By using the augmented reality app any online and offline furniture store can do just that, helping the customer to match the colour and theme of their interiors to the product they are looking at buying. Brands such as Ikea and total immersion convince their customers with dimensions and accurate models of the product. By using a dimension indicator the app can determine how much space is appearing in the photo and then scale the product model to fit as is in lifelike sizes.
Selling flooring online is incredibly hard. In order to minimise the need for sending samples out (which would be quite expensive), it’s possible to overlay the flooring with just a few clicks. Giving the customer a better indication of how it will make their interiors look than even a small sample could do! The same premise exists for rug retailers, we asked the director of an online rug store about what augmented reality did for their business.
“After implementing our AR app we discovered our customers were not returning their products as much, lowering our costs greatly. The major side effect of this is that it increased our sales by over 20%, we can only assume it is due to increased consumer confidence in their purchase and how it will look in their home.”
-Aaron, Director of Rugs Rugs Rugs
Companies such as Dulux and Tap painter use virtual painting to help the customer decide on a colour scheme that will work with their existing interiors. After deciding on a theme they can then decide to try out free samples instead of ordering bulk samples – this will lower costs significantly when doing business online.
For windows treatments, an augmented reality app does play a vital role in selecting the right fabric and shades. Similar to the other industries such as flooring and paint, a consumer needs to see the product up on their windows to decide what’s the best option for them when considering the overall theme of their rooms. Instead of having to visit an expensive showroom, they can gauge the products overall look right on their mobile device. To check out an example of this app in action, check out My Direct Blinds, they recently developed their own iOS app for this (with an Android version in the works).
So what do you think, do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments.