How Augmented Reality Can Impact E-Commerce

Retailers are just now seeing the value of introducing augmented reality into their shopping experiences. But what precisely is augmented reality? We’ll go over the foundations as well as how specific merchants are implementing augmented reality in the e-commerce industry.

What Is Augmented Reality?

AR is a sort of technology that mixes computer-generated information with real-world settings. AR applications include music, video, graphics, GPS overlays, and other features. These interact with the physical world in real-time and may react to changes in the environment.

While augmented reality has been used for decades, recent advances have helped to legitimate its usage in a variety of settings, including mainstream culture. Popular entities such as the smartphone game Pokémon Go and Snap Inc’s Snapchat filters have given AR visibility. Snap has even established a platform called Snap AR, which provides templates, courses, and games for AR producers. However, the promise of augmented reality goes well beyond entertainment.

Companies have been pioneering new applications for augmented reality, from wearables that assist increase employee productivity to “heads-up” displays for automobiles that overlay GPS information onto the windshield, allowing the driver to maintain their eyes on the road while navigating.

Most AR applications are now available through mobile devices, but this is expected to change as wearables gain popularity—things like smart glasses or head-mounted displays that allow the user to be hands-free.

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

Some of the main differences between augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) include the following.

Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality

Experience includes superimposing computer-generated input over the user’s real-world surroundings

Immerses the user in an entirely new virtual world.

Users control their presence as they interact with the physical world; and

The VR system is in charge of the user’s experience.

The technology is available via cell phones, computers, and headsets.

Requires the usage of a headset device by the user.

There are substantial distinctions between augmented reality and virtual reality, which are sometimes misconstrued or used interchangeably. Virtual reality offers the viewer a simulation of a whole new environment, whereas augmented reality combines computer-generated input with real-world experiences.

Several e-commerce companies, for example, provide smartphone applications that employ augmented reality to allow customers to view how an item might appear in their home before purchasing it. Virtual reality is being used by some real estate brokers to give virtual tours of homes. Instead of visiting each place, homebuyers may use a virtual reality headset to explore many possibilities and choose which ones they wish to see in person.

Augmented reality may be accessed via cellphones, laptops, or a headset, making it more accessible to the general public. However, to experience VR, customers must wear a headgear gadget, which might be expensive.

The Oculus Quest 2, a virtual reality headset owned by Facebook, costs $299 or $399 depending on size. On Amazon, similar VR headsets range in price from $20 to $1,199.

How Can E-Commerce Companies Make Use of Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality in e-commerce allows firms to inform and communicate with customers. They also engage them after they’ve made a purchase.

More engaging retail experiences are desired by younger generations. According to Gartner data, 30% of millennial and Gen Z customers desire more online purchasing experiences that combine AR and VR technologies, compared to 14% of previous generations.

We’ll go through some of the most popular ways augmented reality is employed in e-commerce in the sections below.

Marker-Based Augmented Reality (AR)

The experience is triggered by a certain marker picture in marker-based AR. As markers, augmented reality QR codes, logos, and item packaging are all regularly employed. The experience is tied to the marker picture. It normally appears on top of the marker and rotates or moves with it. The experience ends when the user no longer triggers the marker.

Businesses may utilize this form of AR to stay in touch with customers after they have made a purchase. Customers who order a product delivered to their house, for example, may scan a QR code on the package for a one-of-a-kind AR experience. Customers may engage and interact with the product in new ways as a result of this.

Markerless Augmented Reality

Markerless augmented reality isn’t limited to a single area. Instead, customers must launch an app or visit a website link to get the experience. Markerless augmented reality analyses the world and arranges the experience based on geometry, often on a flat surface.

Warby Parker, a supplier of glasses, has an app that includes a virtual try-on function made possible using AR technology. You may virtually put on glasses and see how you appear in a pair before picking which ones to buy. This is an example of augmented reality without markers.

Augmented Reality Based on Superimposition

A superimposition-based augmented reality experience covers up the original view of an item with an enhanced view, either partially or completely. It’s a form of Markerless AR, which means it doesn’t need an image or marker to cue it. In this type of AR, item identification is crucial since the technology must first detect the original thing before replacing it. This is the sort of augmented reality used in Snapchat and other social media filters.

E-commerce vendors may utilize superimposition-based AR to show consumers how a piece of furniture would fit in their house, for example. The user selects the link or app and directs their camera to the desired location for the item. On their device’s screen, an overlay of the item appears in that spot, allowing people to determine if it’s a good fit for them.

Examples of AR in E-Commerce

Augmented reality is becoming more prevalent in the retail business to improve customers’ shopping experiences. In the past, LEGO has released items that incorporate AR technology into LEGO kits. Users may use their phone or tablet to scan portions of the playset to have access to various activities and functions related to the toy itself, combining physical and virtual play.

The IKEA Place app allows users to digitally place various products in the actual world around them to see if they are the best fit for the location. The software allows you to try out a wide range of items, including couches and dining tables, as well as cribs and bookshelves. The furniture is 3D and precise in scale, and users can spin it in the app to see how it appears from various angles. Wayfair’s smartphone app uses similar AR technology, allowing users to see how an item might look in their own home.

On their website, Armani provides several “Virtual Services.” Users may use a single tool to test cosmetic items in real-time using a live camera or by uploading a photo. Customers can experiment with foundation, lipstick, eye shadow, and mascara. Users may play around with the different colors to see how they look on them.

Armani also allows customers to try on full ensembles from previous fashion shows. Users choose the style they wish to try on themselves and then see how it looks on them in real-time or in a snapshot. The items needed to create the appearance are then displayed, persuading the buyer to make a purchase.

The Bottom Line 

Retailers are only now beginning to delve into the possibilities that AR integration provides. Combining technology with the needs of e-commerce provides businesses with a one-of-a-kind chance to engage with their consumers and create superior shopping experiences.

Emerging technology also brings with it new privacy problems. The “potential for AR to continually gather, analyze, and display personal data in real-time,” according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, may challenge present conventions. According to the charity, as more businesses employ AR, the social and legal notions of privacy and public space may need to alter and adapt.

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