Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the way we interact with brands and commerce has completely changed. While brick-and-mortar shopping was already on the decline, the pandemic greatly accelerated its timeline. Consumers no longer want to go to the store like they used to. Malls and shopping centers aren’t seen as places for communal gathering, but as relics of the past.
Brands are looking for new ways to engage with consumers and showcase their products in ways that allow them to be seen, touched, and engaged with like never before.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) is a new and emerging technology in which the real world and the virtual world are merged, typically requiring a device such as a smartphone and its camera.
The current digital landscape is littered with examples of AR: from the Metaverse and Instagram filters that turn our faces into different shapes and forms, to solar system apps that trace where different planets and stars exist in our night skies.
Essentially, any time you open your smartphone and see live views of your world with digital integrations. you are experiencing AR.
AR is not the first reality-shattering technology to make its way onto the scene, there’s also virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR). Before we proceed, it’s important to understand the differences between the three.
Virtual reality is a technology wherein a virtual world replaces a user’s entire experience. This can be accomplished either through computer-generated imagery or through 360-degree video. The most common VR technology that exists today are VR video games such as Oculus or Playstation VR.
Mixed reality exists in the space between virtual and augmented realities. Essentially, imagine an AR experience where you wouldn’t need to view the digital aspects of the world with a screen.
Augmented Reality Meets E-Commerce
But how can AR be of practical use for brands in 2022? Does digital technology make sense to consumers that may be skeptical to try out the new technology?
Here are a few ways in which e-commerce businesses can begin introducing AR technology to consumers in practical and applicable ways.
Placing AR in the Room
One of the most immediate ways brands can begin implementing AR technology is by placing products in the hands of consumers. Oftentimes, customers are left imagining what products would look like in their homes or apartments and, short of actually purchasing them, are left guessing.
Take furniture, for example.
Using AR technology, furniture manufacturers can allow customers to digitally place their products in their homes to see how they will look with regard to sizing, design, and color. This can allow customers to save on shipping, delivery, and frustration as they would normally have to make the best guess as to what type of furniture would work best in the room.
Trying on AR Clothing
Similarly, fashion brands have turned to AR for remote fitting room capabilities. Motion tracking allows clothes to be dynamically fitted onto the individual so that they can determine whether or not they are worth purchasing.
Personalize the Branding Experience
One of the coolest things about AR is hiding its capabilities in plain sight. Using a smartphone camera, you can turn almost anything into a 3D experience; tons of brands are are now using 3D packaging which comes to life when viewed through a smartphone.
For instance, Jack Daniels created an amazing AR experience using just their bottle label that could be viewed through any smartphone. AR creates an opportunity whereby any surface, design, or photo can be elevated, making the opportunities truly endless.
Brands Using AR
Sephora has been using AR for several years to allow its customers to try on various styles of makeup. You can dynamically apply hundreds of different styles of lipstick, eye shadow, foundation, and more.
The beauty brand L’oreal recently reported that AR technology that offers digital makeup can increase sales by 27-34 percent.
Lens Cart is an eyeglass company that allows you to dynamically try on different styles of glasses via their AR app. Once you scan your face, you can begin getting tips on your style of glasses based on their expert style guides.
The IkeaAssemble AR app lays out all of the pieces and parts you will need to assemble your ikea product, and then helps you build it. As you progress, the app will follow along with you and help you in the event you ever mess up.
Why Use AR?
As more and more consumers are shunning brick-and-mortar shopping, brands are needing ways to provide “hands-on” options for consumers to try out products. Customers still want to try on clothes and they still want to measure their furniture to see if it will fit in their living rooms.
AR provides a way for them to do all of this digitally. As a consumer, you no longer have to order the product and return it, thus saving the brand the cost of shipping.
Augmented reality is a technology that can help e-commerce and product brands make the leap from being brick and mortar to being fully digital. Customers want to try out your products and hold them in their hands before purchasing. It is human nature.
However, by being able to digitally place your products in their homes, on their bodies, or in their worlds, you stand a much greater chance of getting them to trust you and make a purchase.
Technology is always changing and augmented reality is taking away a lot of the barriers that exist between customers and sellers in the world of eCommerce.