The emergence of e-commerce marked a new era for the retail business model. The sellers were no longer obliged to have brick-and-mortar stores. Instead, they could open virtual stores in the digital world. Some of the biggest companies of today, such as Amazon, Etsy, Alibaba, and Trendyol, are basing their sales on the e-commerce model.
Since the e-commerce industry thrives on the Internet, it makes no wonder that it is extremely willing and capable of adapting to new technologies. Such is the case with Augmented Reality (AR), a technology that’s becoming increasingly popular.
E-commerce stores have been using AR for a while now. AR technology has enabled them to overcome some challenges that come with online selling and shopping, as well as to provide a more immersive and personalized experience for buyers.
Many Advantages of AR Implementation for E-Commerce Stores
Before we move on to the best examples of e-commerce AR implementation, let’s first take a look at some advantages of such implementation. As you can guess, the advantages are numerous, and AR has truly transformed the world of e-commerce and made it so much better for everyone involved.
When people shop online, they are oftentimes more reluctant to buy a certain product than they would be in the real world. The reason behind this is obvious: they can’t take the product into their hands, observe it up close, and make an informed decision whether they should buy it or not.
While online shopping, people can’t do the same. They can only look at a picture of the product, which might be accurate, but it still doesn’t provide enough information, such as product texture, details, how it will look on the buyer (in case it’s a clothing item or makeup), etc.
With AR-backed virtual try-ons and 3D models, buyers can inform themselves about the product as if they were holding it in their hands. They can zoom in and see the tiniest details or try it on virtually to see if it will fit them.
These buyers will be more likely to proceed with the purchase. As a result, the store will see a significant increase in sales.
Reduced Return Rates
Another issue plaguing many e-commerce stores is customer returns. While customer returns are completely normal, even for traditional retail stores, they are more frequent for online stores. When people buy products they haven’t even seen, the probability of them being disappointed by the product is significantly higher.
With the above-mentioned virtual try-ons and 3D models, customers are less likely to order a product that they won’t be happy with. This means they won’t be returning the product once they see it in person.
Of course, there will always be customer returns for various reasons. However, AR can noticeably reduce the customer returns rate, helping e-commerce stores save the time and money they spend processing the returns.
Better Product Visualization
We already mentioned how AR can help increase sales by allowing buyers to look at products more thoroughly than when they can only see photos. Indeed, AR implementation in e-commerce stores allows better product visualization.
Apart from increasing sales and even reducing customer returns, better product visualization also builds trust between online stores and their customers. When they can visualize the products better, customers know that they will get what they paid for, and they start to trust this online shop more than the others that don’t offer the same transparency.
Source: CanvasLogic, Google Images
Marketing, Branding, and Social Media Integration
Most e-commerce stores have a strong social media presence. On the other side, social media platforms have been implementing AR in order to provide a more interactive, engaging, and immersive experience for their users.
This AR implementation in social media platforms includes various face/body filters, real-time filters, AR effects, virtual try-ons, AR ads, etc. These filters and effects aren’t just there to entertain the users but also to promote brands.
It is easy to see that leveraging social media and its AR implementation could be a powerful marketing and branding tool. It is a unique way to promote products, build more personal relationships with buyers, and drive buyer engagement with the brand.
Branding efforts aim at making the shop or its products recognizable among potential customers. People are more likely to buy familiar products from familiar sellers. Using AR for branding is a smart way to stand out and create that familiarity with customers.
Gaining Competitive Edge
The concept of e-commerce has allowed many people to try their luck in the retail industry. Previously, that wasn’t possible because not everyone could afford the costs that came with brick-and-mortar stores. Of course, setting up and running an e-commerce store isn’t free, but it still costs significantly less than opening a physical store.
However, this also leads to more competition. In each product category, there will be more stores selling similar products. Gaining a competitive edge, especially in the early stages of running a business, can make all the difference in becoming successful or losing money.
That’s why e-commerce stores look for ways that will distinguish them from other similar stores. Some do it through marketing efforts, others offer unique discounts, etc. There are also e-commerce stores that try to implement new technological innovations that will set them apart from the competition.
Implementing AR is one of the most popular ways to do so. Because this technology is still relatively new, potential buyers visit e-commerce stores with implemented AR out of curiosity. Then, when they try out AR features, they realize the convenience of buying in such stores and become loyal customers.
Best AR Solutions for E-Commerce
Now that we explained the benefits of AR implementation in e-commerce, it is time to take a look at the best AR solutions for e-commerce stores. We already mentioned some of these solutions, but there are also others that are equally as interesting:
Virtual try-ons are perfect for selling products that are intended to be worn: clothes, shoes, accessories, and makeup. Virtual try-ons are basically images of products that can be superimposed over someone’s face or body.
These images are integrated with AR that scans the facial and body features of the buyer by accessing their phone camera. Then, AR overlays the product images over the buyer’s face or body, showing how they would look when worn in the real world.
Recently developed virtual try-ons are quite realistic and can be really helpful when shopping online. Buyers can now try lipsticks, eyeshadows, jewelry, sunglasses, shirts, dresses, pants, and even shoes without having to leave their homes. Brands like Gucci, Sephora, L’Oreal, and many others have already implemented virtual try-ons in their apps and online stores.
Similarly to virtual try-ons, 3D models are product images integrated with AR to help with product visualization. However, 3D models, as their name says, are models of products made by scanning the product from all sides and angles and then bringing all those images into a 3D-like model.
Instead of being overlaid over the user’s face or body, 3D models are usually superimposed over real-world places, such as homes, tables, parking lots, etc. In other words, the point of 3D models isn’t to see how they would look like on a person but rather in real-world surroundings.
For example, IKEA has created 3D models of its furniture. Potential buyers can use these 3D models to see how certain furniture pieces would look in their homes, whether their dimensions fit, whether their design is compatible with the existing furniture, etc.
3D models of food and meals are also popular in restaurants that want to offer 3D menus. Restaurant guests can take a look at a meal from all angles and even zoom in to see its details and texture. People who want to order food instead of eating out can also get information about each meal before they order.
Some e-commerce stores have decided to take their AR implementation even further. Instead of just offering virtual try-ons or 3D product models, they opted for AR stores. By using AR glasses or mobile apps, customers can “enter” the virtual store and interact with the products in a similar way they would do in a physical store.
While this way of implementing AR in e-commerce is still new, especially when compared with other AR solutions, it is quite interesting, and it has a lot of potential. Such a concept blurs the line between the real and online world, providing a more immersive shopping experience.
It is also a perfect way to attract customers because not many e-commerce stores are offering it. As such, an AR store is a great way to gain that competitive edge and become a leader in your e-commerce niche.
Source: Vogue Business, Google Images
Product Customization and Personalization
Another AR-powered option that attracts customers is the ability to personalize and customize products before buying them. This includes product images that are integrated with AR so that their features, such as color, texture, material, design, and shape, can be changed.
This will further boost sales and provide a competitive advantage. In general, customers enjoy being able to adapt products to their tastes and needs. Additionally, there are people who want to be unique, and they often complain that they can’t find something that catches their eye. Products that can be heavily customized and personalized could be the answer to their problem.
Gamifying the Shopping Experience
Finally, another great idea to increase sales and attract more customers is to gamify the shopping experience. The options here are endless, and it is a great opportunity to get creative.
For example, Nike has launched the Nike SNKRS app. Apart from providing the info on the newest events, sneaker drops, and live discussions, this app also offers some sort of scavenger hunt.
When a new sneaker gets released, app users can open the app, point their phone camera toward their feet, and the virtual try*on of the new sneaker model will appear there. Sometimes, they need to find a specific hidden location or poster in the real world and scan it. Once they do it, they can buy exclusive sneakers that can’t be bought otherwise.
Apart from scavenger hunts, e-commerce shops can use AR to make some small in-store games (such as simple games with watering plants, killing enemies, answering trivia questions, etc.). When buyers play these games, they collect points that can be used to get discounts or exclusive items.
The Possible Problems with AR Implementation
While AR implementation can bring many benefits to the e-commerce industry, some issues should be considered. AR is a complex technology, and building an AR solution from scratch might take months. Additionally, it is not cheap either: depending on the type and complexity, building and implementing an AR solution can cost anywhere between $7,000 and $250,000.
Obviously, unless the e-commerce store has its in-house developer, they will need to hire an expert developer specialized in AR or a whole team. Just like any other software, implemented AR features will need regular maintenance and updating, which also takes time and money.
However, the good news is that AR is becoming more affordable and available. It’s no longer reserved for big companies with limitless budgets. Even small and mid-size e-commerce companies can afford AR implementation without having to wait several months for it to be done.
CSCONNECT As a Solution for AR Implementation
CSCONNECT is a place where e-commerce stores can find fully-functional AR solutions for a fraction of the price they would usually have to pay. Additionally, since these AR solutions are pre-made and only need to be slightly adapted, they can be implemented in no time.
Each AR solution comes in three pricing plans: Starter, Essential Business, and Enterprise. Starter plans are the most affordable, and they are perfect for e-commerce stores that don’t have many products or any complex requirements. Enterprise is the most expensive, and it is perfect for larger e-commerce stores with dozens of products.
Here is a brief overview of CSCONNECT’s AR features:
- Virtual try-ons
- 3D models
- Virtual spaces
- QR marketing solutions
- NFC marketing solutions
- SDK AR
- X-Ray AR
There is also the option to get access to all of these features or to opt for feature bundles instead. No matter which AR solution is in question, its implementation will be fast and seamless. Those who want to track the results of AR implementation will get real-time insights.
The concept of e-commerce has made a revolution in the retail industry. It makes no wonder that e-commerce stores are always interested in new technological advancements, such as Augmented Reality, also known as AR.
The benefits of AR implementation for e-commerce stores are numerous, and the most successful e-commerce stores and platforms have already recognized that. There are also many different ways in which e-commerce stores can implement AR, depending on their needs and goals.
Finally, AR has become more available and affordable than ever before. CSCONNECT is a platform specializing in providing affordable yet functional and impressive AR solutions. If you want to take your e-commerce business into the new era and leave the competition behind, visit www.csconnect.com ASAP!