Both brands and shoppers are loving the wave of AR/VR as part of the shopping experience.
It adds an element of gaming and exciting visuals to their everyday shopping habits.
A survey from PwC shows that:
- China, India, and Qatar are the markets where VR is most popular.
- Luxury goods are a hit in the virtual world, with nearly a fifth of VR shoppers buying them.
- A third of virtual reality (VR) users have shopped with the technology in the last six months.
The New Normal: AR/VR in the Post-Pandemic World
Even before the pandemic, eCommerce brands cautiously implemented it in short stints to test customer interaction and engagement.
AR/VR went from the edges to the forefront of the eCommerce shopping experience during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, Balenciaga sent fashion insiders a big black box that had a VR headset with two hand controllers.
When the fashion show went live, the invited attendees were transported from their living room to a blacked-out venue with a raised runway and a soundtrack reminiscent of a video game score.
They could also turn to the people around them and study their body language and wardrobe.
In eCommerce, the use of AR use is far more common than VR.
However, many VR experiences also depend on AR to create a mixed reality (MR) that provides shoppers with the full experience.
Post-pandemic, brands have recognized the importance and profitability of using AR/VR for shopping.
While brands have implemented AR/VR in their eCommerce stores, they have also transcended the experience to physical stores.
How eCommerce stores are using AR/VR to enhance the shopping experience:
1. Farfetch Virtual Try-on
Farfetch in partnership with Snapchat, enabled virtual try-on.
To shop with Farfetch through AR, the shopper must stand in front of their camera and say, “Show me a black t-shirt”.
The feature then chooses the product that matches the search term from the brand’s product catalog and places it on the shopper’s body.
The AR feature uses advanced technology called 3D Body Mesh that maps the body and cloth simulations that make it seem as if the clothes are responding to gravity.
Shoppers can switch outfits using voice commands, share their photos with friends, and buy products directly on Snapchat.
2. Nike’s In-store Experience with AR
Nike uses augmented reality and virtual reality in their physical stores.
Shoppers can scan the QR codes situated around the shop with their smartphone’s camera to see the product details.
Nike added a digital layer to the physical shopping experience at the brand’s New York City store on Fifth Avenue through a collaboration with Roblox.
3. Toms - Combine Philanthropy and VR
Toms specializes in one-to-one marketing.
When you buy a product from Toms, the brand donates to people in need.
Toms used virtual reality to implement their philanthropy campaign.
The Los Angeles-based brand lets shoppers tag along on one of its giving trips to Peru through a virtual reality headset.
Through the virtual trip, they can see how the people are impacted by the charity campaign and also hear their stories. (always effective in establishing brand recall!)
4. Felix - Increase Social Media Engagement
A report shows that AR has a 70% better memory recall than non-AR content
AR Filters are social media's version of Augmented Reality.
These social media features can help brands increase their brand perception, advertise products and improve customer engagement.
UK cat food brand Felix launched their Instagram face filter to raise brand awareness: an animated cat appears on a smartphone's screen, walking around or asking users to scratch his belly.
Millions of UK social media users wanted to play with their new digital black-and-white friend.
How you can use augmented reality to drive more conversions:
Here are 4 ways eCommerce stores can implement AR/VR to drive more conversions.
1. Use Snapchat to enable virtual try-on
Snapchat’s AR tools are available to everybody for free.
But you can pay to promote your virtual try-ons on Snapchat to increase your reach.
To enable this feature, you have to upload your product catalog and 3D product assets to the platform.
There are pre-existing AR shopping templates which means you can create Snapchat’s AR Lenses quickly.
2. Recreate the in-store experience
In brick-and-mortar stores, retailers can attract customers by creating an appealing environment with fun music and dynamic product displays.
That’s not possible with online brands.
You can use AR/VR to showcase their products in virtual environments that show customers how to use the products.
For example, see how NARS has a virtual try-on feature on their product pages:
3. Product placement
Similar to virtual try-on solutions, product preview placement is a great AR extension for products that are high-end or not easy to return (for instance, home decor brands)
It allows a shopper to visualize how a particular product would look within their own home or office space so that they can make better choices.
Even when shopping in-store, it can be hard for shoppers to visualize how the furniture looks in their homes.
The AR feature renders a unique experience to the shoppers by giving an increased sense of ownership that no physical store can offer.
Additionally, it helps customers save time by allowing them to visualize how the product will look and fit in a space.
Shoppers can also overlay, move, and rotate the products in a live camera view mode.
Consequently, the feature results in higher customer satisfaction and fewer product returns.
4. Use social media AR filters to drive more traffic
While AR technology has been around for a long time, it’s still a ‘novelty’ feature.
This means the presence of the technology is enough to draw traffic to your eCommerce site.
As an eCommerce store owner, you can venture into AR through social media filters.
Hyper-immersive AR filters are already available on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat.
They are highly customizable, cost-effective, and easily accessible.
You can use social media AR filters to introduce products and make shoppers aware of your products.
If you're looking for more info about augmented reality:
1. Should eCommerce brands use AR?
When it comes to AR, many brands ask,
Is it worth it?
The short answer is that when implemented with a defined goal, it’s worth it.
AR/VR is a great advertising technique, as it helps brands stand apart in a competitive market.
eCommerce businesses, especially retail such as cosmetics and clothing see a high bounce rate on their websites.
While luxury brands can easily implement AR/VR to garner attention, small businesses might be hesitant to expand their budget for an experiment.
Before you opt for AR/VR technology, answer the following questions:
- What goals do you want to achieve with AR/VR? (brand awareness, lead generation, or more sales)
- What’s the budget? (part of the advertising budget or will there be an ongoing maintenance cost)
- Where do you want the AR/VR content to appear? (website, mobile app, ads)
- What’s the context of the activation? (virtual try-ons, social media engagement)
- How long will you run the AR/VR technology? (campaign based, on specific product pages)
2. What is AR eCommerce shopping?
Augmented reality/virtual reality in eCommerce shopping is an interactive experience that allows customers to virtually try on and test products through a smartphone or virtual reality headset.
AR helps customers feel like they are in a brick-and-mortar store and see how products will look in real life.
3. What is the difference between AR and VR in eCommerce?
Augmented reality (AR) takes some digital elements and displays them in a shopper’s reality.
Virtual reality (VR) takes a shopper into a completely digital environment
AR uses smartphones, tablets, or glasses to project digital images or information into the real world, while VR uses headsets or goggles to transport the user to a virtual environment.
4. Why is AR/VR important in eCommerce?
“Using VR to immerse consumers in a different world is the ultimate tool for “show, don’t tell.” By immersing them in a completely different environment, you’re “enabling a form of telepresence that evokes levels of empathy as if one were present,” says a report from McKinsey.
Statistics show that:
- The AR/VR market revenue is projected to reach US$31.12 billion in 2023.
- 48% of shoppers said they’re interested in using “metaverse” technology (i.e. AR and VR) to shop in the next five years.
- The average revenue per user is expected to amount to US$14.08.
- 38% of marketer respondents said they would be using AR in 2022.
- Customers who used AR spent 20.7% more time on the app and viewed 1.28 times more products on average.
- The likelihood of purchasing the session was also 19.8% higher than customers who did not use AR, providing some evidence that AR can help businesses increase revenues.
- Research shows that 360o adverts have an 85% completion rate compared to 2D adverts which only have a 58% completion rate.
- Macy’s, a retail brand, has reported that product return rates have reduced to less than 2% since the introduction of AR.
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