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AR in eCommerce: How AR Impacts The Future of Online Shopping

Augmented reality (AR) is rapidly becoming a game changer in the eCommerce industry. With AR technology projected to see significant investments in the coming years, its influence is poised to revolutionize the shopping experience. As a result, more businesses are embracing AR as a means to captivate customers and gain a competitive edge. By overlaying digital elements onto the real world, AR creates an immersive environment that bridges the gap between physical and digital shopping.

It allows customers to visualize and interact with products in their own surroundings, providing a level of engagement and personalization that was previously only possible in brick-and-mortar stores. AR elevates the online shopping experience by enhancing product exploration, decision-making, and overall customer satisfaction.

In this article, we’ll explore AR’s unique features and its role in enriching the shopping experience, then look at positive buyer responses and successful implementations from leading brands. We’ll also address skepticism and challenges surrounding AR adoption, as well as its impact on conversions and the preparedness of retailers to embrace this transformative technology. Join us on this journey as we uncover the remarkable impact of AR on the eCommerce landscape and its unprecedented transformation of how we shop online.

AR vs. VR

Augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) are two related but distinct technologies that have gained significant attention in recent years. While both offer immersive experiences, they differ in their fundamental principles and applications.

AR integrates digital elements into the real world to enhance the user’s perception of their environment. It blurs the boundaries between online and reality by overlaying computer-generated images, sounds, and sensory experiences onto the physical world. This integration allows users to see and interact with virtual objects in the context of their real surroundings.

Meanwhile, VR creates an entirely digital environment that replaces the physical world. The technology transports users to computer-generated realms, often through the use of headsets or other wearable devices. In VR, users are completely immersed in a simulated reality, where they can explore and interact with virtual objects and environments.

AR relies on data collection and analysis to create an immersive experience for users. These systems gather information about the user’s environment, such as the layout of a room or physical movements, through sensors and cameras. That data is then processed and used to superimpose virtual elements onto a real-world view.

In contrast, VR isolates users from the real world and immerses them in a completely simulated environment. VR is commonly employed in gaming, virtual tours, and immersive simulations, allowing users to experience situations and scenarios that may be difficult or impossible to reconstruct in the physical world.

While AR and VR share the goal of providing immersive experiences, AR’s ability to merge the digital and physical worlds holds tremendous potential to transform the eCommerce industry and alter the way customers shop online.

The role of AR in eCommerce

AR offers a multitude of opportunities for eCommerce brands to promote products, drive customer purchases, launch effective marketing campaigns, and gather valuable customer data. Brands can combine physical and online shopping to create a more interactive and satisfying shopping experience by leveraging AR’s unique capabilities, such as:

  • Promote products in a visually engaging and informative manner: Integrating AR features into online platforms enables customers to try on items virtually, visualize how objects would look in their homes, or even preview features and functionalities of complex products. This dynamic presentation significantly enhances the customer’s understanding and appreciation of the item, leading to increased engagement and a higher likelihood of making a purchase.
  • Instill confidence and reduce uncertainties: By offering virtual try-ons or visualizations, customers can better assess the fit, style, or functionality of products before committing to a purchase. This empowers customers to make informed decisions about buying and reduces the likelihood of returns.
  • Launch innovative marketing campaigns: Brands can leverage AR to create interactive and immersive content that showcases their products in unique ways and captures their target audience’s attention. For example, AR-powered advertisements allow customers to interact with virtual objects or characters, which boosts brand engagement and recognition.
  • Gather valuable customer data: Analyzing user interactions and preferences within AR experiences reveals insights into customer behavior, preferences, and purchase patterns. That data can then guide targeted marketing strategies, personalized recommendations, and product development initiatives.

AR brings the advantages of in-store interactions to the digital realm. It allows customers to see and experience products in their own environments, virtually try them on, or visualize them in action. This interactivity and personalization not only improves the customer experience but also builds trust and confidence in the online shopping process.

Enriching the shopping experience

AR has revolutionized the shopping experience in eCommerce by providing various interactive features that enable customers to engage with products in unprecedented ways. These include:

  • Social media filters: A popular application in eCommerce, these filters allow customers to try out different looks or styles using AR overlays on their personal photos or videos. They’re an engaging and fun way for customers to experiment with different products, styles, and trends.
  • Placement previews: These are particularly relevant for home decor and furniture brands. Using their smartphones or tablets, shoppers can virtually place furniture, decor items, or even entire room setups in their homes to experience the spatial dimensions and aesthetics firsthand. This AR-powered preview functionality gives buyers greater certainty about their purchasing decisions, which lowers the risk of customers buying products that don’t fit their space and returning them.

By embracing AR technologies and leveraging their interactive features, brands can differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace, drive engagement, and build lasting customer relationships. AR is transforming the shopping experience, bringing it closer to the personalized and immersive nature of in-store interactions, and paving the way for a new era of eCommerce.

Positive shopper responses to AR

The integration of AR in eCommerce has garnered generally positive responses from online shoppers. Recent successful AR implementations, such as ASOS’ inclusive sizing AR feature, have received praise and appreciation from customers, highlighting the impact of AR on the digital shopping landscape.

ASOS, a renowned online fashion retailer, introduced an inclusive sizing AR feature in 2020. This innovation allowed shoppers to see how clothing items would look on different-sized models. The response on social media platforms like Twitter was overwhelmingly positive, with customers expressing their excitement and satisfaction with the introduction of this technology. Many customers praised ASOS for addressing the need for more diversity and representation in the fashion industry. The AR sizing feature successfully resonated with customers by providing a more inclusive and personalized shopping experience.

Online platforms like Twitter also showcase a broader positive sentiment towards AR in online shopping. Many users have expressed their enthusiasm for AR technologies that enhance the shopping experience, with some noting that it “sealed the deal” for their home furnishing and DIY purchases. These online conversations indicate a growing acceptance and appreciation for AR in eCommerce.

Check out these other successful implementations from well-known names:

  • Sephora: The Sephora Virtual Artist app enables customers to try on virtual makeup products, experiment with different shades, and find their perfect look.
  • Porsche: The Porsche AR Visualizer app allows customers to view and customize virtual versions of Porsche cars, exploring various options and configurations.
  • L’Oréal: The L’Oréal Makeup Genius app offers virtual try-ons of makeup products, allowing customers to experiment with different looks and styles.
  • Wayfair: Wayfair’s AR feature enables customers to preview furniture and home decor items in their space, ensuring the perfect fit and aesthetic.
  • Nike: The Nike Fit AR feature measures customers’ feet using their smartphone cameras, helping them find the right shoe size for a precise fit.

These responses prove AR’s power to increase customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. The technology’s immersive and interactive experiences create a sense of connection and confidence in consumers, which then convinces them to buy.

Skepticism and challenges

While AR has garnered positive responses from many online shoppers, some question its effectiveness in retail.

  • Perceived novelty: Some shoppers view this technology as a passing trend or a mere marketing ploy. To address this, focus on demonstrating the tangible benefits and value AR brings to the shopping experience. By showcasing its practical applications and real-world advantages, you can instill confidence and credibility in your AR initiatives.

Understanding your target audience is paramount in tailoring AR experiences to their preferences. Conduct market research and gather customer insights to determine the most relevant and engaging AR features for your specific consumer base. 

  • Difficulty ensuring a seamless and intuitive user experience: Technical glitches or complex interfaces can deter users and undermine the effectiveness of AR. Invest in user-friendly interfaces and prioritize usability testing to optimize the buyer experience.

Education and awareness play a vital role in addressing uncertainty. Many shoppers may not be aware of AR’s full potential or have yet to experience it firsthand. Consider educating your customers about the benefits and functionalities of AR through informative content, tutorials, or demonstrations.

Transparency and authenticity are also key in building trust with customers. Be transparent about the limitations and capabilities of your AR experiences and set realistic expectations. It’s important to strike a balance between exciting customers with the possibilities of AR and ensuring transparency about its current capabilities.

Impact on conversions and customers’ expectations

Research findings consistently demonstrate the positive influence of AR on various selling metrics, including increased curiosity, intention to patronize, and purchase intent. As a result, it’s imperative for retailers to embrace emerging technologies like AR to stay competitive in the evolving eCommerce landscape.

Consumers are increasingly drawn to unique and engaging shopping experiences, and AR is a prime example. So much so, in fact, the National Institute of Health has examined the effect of AR in mobile shopping! By adopting this technology, retailers differentiate themselves from competitors, capture buyer attention, and create memorable interactions. It demonstrates a commitment to innovation and putting customers first, establishing brands as industry leaders and trendsetters.

Several brands have effectively harnessed the power of AR in eCommerce, such as IKEA’s AR app, IKEA Place, enables shoppers to visualize furniture in their homes before making a purchase. Walmart as well integrated Zeekit’s virtual fitting room technology allows customers to digitally try on clothing and select models that represent their height, body shape, and skin tone accurately. These virtual try-ons (or move-ins, in IKEA’s case) help customers better manage their own expectations to understand the products and how they will fit into their lives.

Wrapping up — Gain an edge with AR

AR is rapidly transforming the eCommerce landscape, offering immersive experiences that attract and engage customers. Its ability to bridge the gap between physical and online shopping lets customers interact with products in exciting ways that eliminate uncertainty and encourage conversions. Staying ahead in the industry will require brands to invest in innovative technologies that enhance the customer experience.

To keep the positive experience alive post-purchase, it’s imperative that you also consider the fulfillment of those orders. MyFBAPrep can ensure your fulfillment completes the experience with their expert preparation and timely delivery of products right to your customer’s doorstep.

Published: March 7, 2022
Updated: June 29, 2023