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Ecommerce
2020-09-07

The possibilities of augmented reality in e-commerce

Laura Villa Méndez
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The possibilities of augmented reality in e-commerce

Virtual reality technology and augmented reality have created high expectations when being implemented in different sectors such as education, tourism, the arts, and entertainment. In the e-commerce sector, augmented reality could cause a digital transformation, due to the multiple possibilities it can offer to expand the experience of the online store. Imagine being able to put your clothes on in a virtual tester, visit digital stores where you can view the products and buy them as if you were in a physical store, or try what a piece of furniture would look like in the spaces of your house. E-commerce could broaden its terms and become what is known as v-commerce or virtual reality-based commerce.

How are virtual reality and augmented reality different?

Virtual Reality or VR allows you to simulate a completely virtual sensory experience separated from the outside. Through this is possible to integrate or overlay digital content in the real environment. On the other hand, augmented reality  (AR)  is part of virtual reality, but what it does, is it complements the real environment with the content or digital elements. With this kind of reality, the world becomes interactive and a much more manipulable experience. 

 The possibilities:

Virtual commerce can complement and enrich the e-commerce experience with the use of these technologies, although it may never completely replace the shopping experience in person. Integrating augmented reality into online stores will be paramount and essential for the user to have a complete virtual shopping experience.

  • Observe every detail

One of the strongest reasons why the user does not buy is because the product does not work or does not meet their expectations and has to return it. This indecision occurs many times because the consumer cannot see the product as it is.

Through augmented reality, you can get a more approximate idea about a product and how it is incorporated into an environment. This technology allows you to test each object in the exact place where a person is interested in placing it.

An example of this is the Ikea Place app from Swedish company Ikea, which first launched its app on iOS with  Apple's ARKit augmented reality technology. Then it did it on Google Play so that devices compatible with Google's new ARCore reality can experience decorating your home through your device's camera.

Play video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UudV1VdFtuQ

According to Engine Creative in a UK study, 76% of consumers said they would "perhaps" or "definitely" buy more items if there was an option to try before buying, highlighting the potential of augmented reality in e-commerce to increase sales.

Amazon has Amazon Sumerian, a service that allows you to build and run three-dimensional virtual reality and augmented reality applications. This system makes it easy to create interactive experiences through user interfaces and is integrated with other AWS services to provide access to machine learning, chatbots, code execution, and more. Also, these dimensions can be incorporated into web and mobile applications.

  • Customizing suggestions

This technology opens up the possibility to more effectively customize product suggestions to the customer. Strategies such as cross-selling and upselling would be strengthened, making the user wonder: why should I buy this product and not the one that was initially interested?

Cross-selling is a technique that consists in offering the customer-related or complementary products to the purchase that he is making. On the other hand, upselling aims to suggest a better or more up-to-date product that has been added to the shopping cart. These strategies seek to achieve higher sales. Through augmented reality, it is possible to show the user more technical data, product characteristics, and make comparisons, which visually, can prove to be much more attractive and convincing to make the purchase decision.

  • Preview of the final purchase

This action is important for a person who buys from an online store: make the final decision. To do this, you will surely view the product several times before clicking on the "buy" button. This technology allows a buyer to view their final purchase and not leave the shopping cart. Through this action, the user can have a more accurate idea of what he is paying for and, in any case, manage to replace a product before finalizing the purchase.

Platforms like Shopify offer the option to link AR to the preview of product reality from an online store. Which also leads to exploring other options, so you do not need to install an app, you can also view augmented reality content through a web browser and social networks.

  • Increases satisfaction

This tool allows you to return to the virtual shopping experience, the satisfaction of feeling very close to the product. Being able to observe objects through augmented reality causes a greater response of curiosity than when you have photos or videos of the product.

The user will be able to feel greater psychological satisfaction, not only because the consultation process turns out to be more entertaining and simple, but also allows them to interact directly with that product, for as long as necessary and as many times as they require it.

An example of this is the Sephora cosmetics chain app, available for iOS and which has the augmented reality feature, allowing users to test how those products would look, without having to do so in person. Tools like this will allow a customer to be much more satisfied with their purchase. 

Play video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU2DIB7H7YA

What are the benefits?

One of the biggest benefits that technology can bring to e-commerce business is attracting more customers and that they invest more time in the website or mobile application. Making a purchase will be a  fully interactive experience.

Online stores will receive fewer returns since the users will be able to appreciate the products in greater detail and precision, which will fulfill customer expectations.

It allows you to explore catalogs more easily and you can browse more advanced options, such as changing the color or size of a product.

It helps reduce customer service inquiries because many of these are regarding the characteristics of a product. Doubts can be resolved through this technology without having to resort to an employee or customer service messages.

Shortens the distance between traditional and virtual purchases. The customer can approach the experience of contemplating a product more realistically. 

These technologies have a global meaning. Customers from different regions can use and understand it, unlike product descriptions, which must be translated into different languages. The truth is that this technology can be used by anyone anywhere, which would help globalize a business. 

Conclusion

Augmented reality is a technology that requires exploration for its uses in e-commerce, as it presents us with different possibilities in the future. This technology, together with virtual reality, will integrate into society along with its advances that will provide important characteristics for more versatile communication in the virtual world.  

Incorporating these technologies will allow digital commerce businesses to expand. Also, they contribute to creating a much more enriching experience for the customer in the purchase process, breaking with the idea of distance and the impossibility of testing a product before having it in their hands. 

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