how ecommerce brands are utilising augmented reality

If you have tried to catch ‘em all in Pokémon Go recently, have used apps like the IKEA app to see how a new sofa would look in your front room, or even used a Snapchat filter, then you are already familiar with Augmented Reality (AR). Today, AR has become a key part of eCommerce and is the fastest-evolving and most accessible immersive technology that customers can access. Immersive technologies might seem new and exciting, but you may be surprised to hear that they have actually been around for longer than your iPhone and social media. However, they have only just become ready for the mass consumer market. And the market for AR technology is growing at a rapid pace, with predictions expecting it to be worth over $18 billion by 2023.

Now that AR is accessible and on the rise, it is finding suitable applications in the majority of product-driven industries, and especially when it comes to eCommerce. So, what exactly is augmented reality and how can eCommerce business owners use it to expand their company? Let’s learn more.

What is AR?

AR is the technology that is able to expand our physical world by adding digital information on top of it. It is viewed via your screen and offers a view of your real-life environment with superimposed, computer-generated images that can be used to change the perception of what you see through the lens, for example, trying on a fashion accessory or seeing how a new paint colour might look on your living room feature wall. AR can be used in several different ways; check out these examples of augmented reality from Apviz, an AR solutions provider offering 3D marketing, try before you buy options, and other 3D configuration solutions that allow eCommerce businesses to promote more interactivity between their customers and products. Some of the tops augmented reality examples that you may have already used include shopping apps that allow you to use your camera to see products in your personal space, games like Pokémon Go that blend the game and the world around you, and social media filters.

Common AR Application Types

There are several different AR application types, which include:

Projection-Based AR:

This is one of the simplest types of AR, which is quite appealing and, in some cases, can be interactive. It involves projecting light onto a physical surface. Some common examples of projection-based AR include holograms that we’re all familiar with from sci-fi movies. It can be used for both entertainment and practical purposes.

Superimposition-Based AR:

This AR-type substitutes the original view with a fully or partially augmented view. The concept of object recognition is critical here. This is often the main type of AR that is used by retail apps that allow users to place items from the catalogue into their rooms at home, or try out a paint colour on their walls and surfaces.

Marker-less AR:

This type of AR is the one that is used the most extensively when it comes to immersive technology. It is easily available on smartphones that allow for location detection and works by reading data from the digital compass, GPS, and other location tools to provide data that is based on the location of the user. This is then used to determine the AR content that a user can get in a certain area. Some common examples of how this type of AR is used include Snapchat World Lenses and Pokémon Go.

Marker-Based AR:

Also known as Image Recognition, this type of AR is able to detect the object that is in front of the camera and provide more information about it on the screen. The object recognition is based on the marker, replacing the marker on the screen with a 3D version of the object that the user can then view in more detail and from a wide range of angles.

How eCommerce Businesses are Using AR

Augmented reality has allowed eCommerce customers to preview and experience products in their own environment at any time that they like before they decide to make a purchase. This has helped to provide a solution for one of the biggest pitfalls of online shopping previously, namely the fact that eCommerce customers often had no way of telling what a product would look like when wearing it or when placed in their home until after they had made the purchase. Some of the most common ways that eCommerce businesses are using AR today include:

Preview Product Placement:

Buying the wrong item or purchasing an item that does not turn out to be a great fit for the customer is not uncommon in eCommerce, since the customer is unable to physically see and handle the product before buying it. For example, customers who buy home furniture online might find that it doesn’t actually fit as well as they thought it might with the rest of their décor when it arrives. Preview placement using AR can help to overcome this issue by allowing customers to get a real-time look at what the product will look like when it is in their environment. Customers can use this AR feature to get an idea of what furniture would look like in certain parts of their home, how certain paint colours will look on their walls, and much more.

Virtual Try-On:

Fashion is one of the top eCommerce industries, with many people choosing to buy their clothing online. However, one of the downsides to buying clothing online is that there is no way for the customer to try it on for size and see if the item will fit or even suit them well before parting with their money. AR has been increasing in popularity in recent years as a way for customers to try on fashion items, accessories, and cosmetics before they buy to see how the item will look before adding it to their cart. In turn, the ability to try a product before committing to buy it can help to increase customer satisfaction significantly and can often help companies achieve fewer customer returns.

Interactive User Manuals

The user guides of today are becoming much smarter and more interactive. Digital transformation allows eCommerce brands to create much more interactive products and user guides for the products that they sell, allowing customers to access them easily from their app and website to better understand how their product works and get the best experience from using it. An interactive manual will respond to user actions, making it easier for customers to get to the sections that they need, whether they are assembling flat-pack furniture or trying to figure out how to work a power tool. There has also been a rise in AR user manual apps that can scan the product and use text animations and graphical arrows to indicate how the product can be used in the real-life environment. Images and descriptive videos can be used to easily explain complex issues, seriously improving the customer experience as a result.

Today, AR has gone from a ‘nice to have’ feature to a must-have for many eCommerce companies that want to survive in a cut-throat industry.

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