AR In eCommerce: Everything You Need to Know To Get Started

AR in eCommerce – a brilliant, emerging technology with its fair share of sceptics and companies hesitant to adopt it?

I bet you’ve heard this story before. I bet you can feel with a gut-wrenching certainty that you better jump on this train before it leaves the station. 

And here’s why: 

  • Covid-19  accelerated a change in consumer behaviour
  • AR in eCommerce is expected to grow at a tremendous rate
  • Two-thirds of consumers are interested in using AR when shopping
  • 61% of consumers say they would choose to shop in stores with AR over those without it

There’s even a study about how AR affects the human brain and almost doubles customer focus!

In this article, you’ll learn about the many uses of AR in eCommerce that will help you stand out from a crowd of competitors, improve your customer experience, and take an important step into the future. 

We’ll examine: 

  1. Uses of AR in eCommerce
  2. Three examples of AR technology in eCommerce
  3. Advantages of AR in eCommerce, and
  4. Getting started with augmented reality in eCommerce

How AR is used in eCommerce

Consider this:  you have a specific product, an online platform, and not enough sales to keep up with your competitors. Your eCommerce platform has great reach, and maybe you don’t have to rent a physical space, but there’s something missing.

Shoppers want more than an opportunity to buy something. Shoppers want an experience. And for many, brick-and-mortar shops are still the best. 

That’s about to change due to AR technology. 

Here are five ways AR in eCommerce can improve customer experience and drive sales.

1. Enhance 3D product viewers with AR

A 3D product viewer is a major step up from the traditional 2D images brands have relied on for years. 3D product viewers allow customers to view a product from every angle, giving them a better visual understanding of the product. 

But as every toddler learns, one step is not enough. You’ve got to take another. 

Adding AR to your 3D product viewers may be the solution you’re looking for. 

If a 3D product viewer gives customers the sense that they’re in a store, closely inspecting the product, then adding AR goes beyond anything the store could provide. 

AR technology in eCommerce allows customers to test products within the context of the environment they mean to use them in. Suddenly, most of their doubts about online shopping take a back seat as AR gives them more confidence about the quality of a product.

2. Add AR to 3D product configurators

If the 3D viewer is the cool new kid on the block, then the 3D product configurator is its super cool older brother. 

3D product configurators go beyond simple viewing, allowing the customer to get in on the action. They allow customers to customise their products according to their desires, allowing companies to showcase the full range of product options. 

With every choice they make, the configurators are adjusted in real-time along with the product’s price, so customers always know the cost, no matter how complex the pricing structure is. 

With AR, customers can adjust their products within their chosen environment, providing them with an experience no brick-and-mortar shop can hope to match. 

And there’s more. 

3D product configurators can go further than that and show the true advantage of AR in eCommerce – It can improve your profit margins. 

By offering customisable products, you can cut down on inventory costs as the item does not have to be held in stores, or production can begin after the order has been placed. 

And with 3D product configurators, there is also an opportunity to charge a premium as consumers are willing to pay more for customised products.

3. Virtual Try-On experiences (for wearable products)

No matter who you are, there is one thing we all have in common. 

When we go to the store to buy a new pair of shoes, or glasses, or that comfy sweater we’ve been checking out for ages, we all do the same thing: we step in front of the mirror and make sure it fits. 

For the longest time, online eCommerce platforms failed to provide the same opportunity, but virtual try-on experiences aim to provide you with an opportunity to try on the products— wherever you may be. 

By enabling customers to see how well those glasses look on their faces or how snugly that dress fits, you bridge the gap between online selling and real-world selling.

Customers can take screenshots of various looks, and send them to their friends for their opinions – an experience has been created. 

Virtual try-on brings the shopping experience into the customer’s home. Where before, they might’ve ordered certain products online only because they had no other choice, AR technology in eCommerce makes online shopping their preferred method of shopping. 

Virtual try-on experiences are perfect for: 

  1. Glasses
  2. Clothes
  3. Shoes
  4. Make-up

4. Virtual showrooms

With the rise of online shopping, there is a big part of the customer experience. Customers can’t walk up and down your store looking for something to catch their attention. 

Embedding virtual environment experiences to your website is a feature of AR in eCommerce that will help you stand out from the pack, creating an environment that is engaging, and extending the experience beyond what is capable in-store.  

Allow your customer to talk a walk through your virtual store instead of merely scrolling up and down your product page. Let them see your entire range of products on the shelves of your store, instead of 2D pictures, they scroll past without a second glance.

5. AR for apps

AR in eCommerce has a great opportunity to thrive in the world of applications. Native apps are developed specifically for one platform (e.g. Apple’s iOS) to use device features like processors or specific hardware like GPS receivers.

It allows AR to bloom within the apps and bring shopper experiences straight to the customer’s phone. 

Ikea PLACE led the way in this development in 2017 by allowing customers to use the app to take pictures of a room in their homes. The app measured the space and provided recommendations on furniture options.

AR for apps can take the form of all the above-mentioned uses of AR in eCommerce:

  • 3D product viewers
  • 3D product configurators
  • Virtual try-on experiences

3 Examples of AR technology in eCommerce

1. Escape To Paradise

Escape to Paradise seized an opportunity to separate itself from the rest of the competition by collaborating with Plattar to create an immersive AR experience. 

The company’s products have a distinct style, and they recognised that customers would benefit from the opportunity to see how that style fits within their homes. 

Before the introduction of AR, they had to rely on 2D pictures that asked the customers to imagine the cushions within their homes. AR allowed them to see the cushions in their homes.

2. Gucci 

Gucci invested in AR to give their customers a chance to ‘try on’ the brand’s shoes in-app. The company did so to reduce returns and raise company satisfaction in recognition of the fact that by 2025, 20% of all luxury sales will take place online. 

But then Gucci took things further. They released a ‘digital-only’ pair of trainers. 

Yes, you read that correctly. 

There are digital Gucci trainers available online for $17.99 through an in-app purchase, users can “try on” the sneakers and wear them in other virtual worlds. This makes the brand more accessible to some, while also being one of the first examples of ‘digital fashion’, a concept many believe will play a major role in the future. 

3. KFive 

KFive is a great example of the fact that AR in eCommerce can go beyond B2C business and into B2B. 

KFive designs unique, modernistic office furniture for its many clients, and though it has showrooms in Melbourne and Sydney, the company wanted to find a way to showcase its products to those who could only shop from a distance. 

That’s where Plattar came in. 

KFive was able to create 3D reconstructions of their products, combine them with AR, and add them to their  app so customers could view the company’s products in their intended environment.

Advantages of AR in eCommerce

1. Enhanced customer experience 

One of the major factors driving consumer hesitancy when it comes to buying on eCommerce platforms is the lack of ability to experience the product. 

We all like to get a feel for a product we’re buying. We want to hold it in our hands and know exactly what we’re buying. Maybe we want to see ourselves wearing a piece of clothing or closely inspect a piece of machinery we’d like to use in the house.

AR in eCommerce can bring customers as close to that experience as possible and works far better than the 2D options currently available.

2. Customers can assess fit

It is hard to expect consumers to pull the trigger on a purchase if they aren’t sure the product they’re buying will match their needs – or suit their tastes.

It is one thing to return clothes, but when it comes to furniture or other more costly items, customers won’t risk making a mistake.

AR in eCommerce is crucial for such cases. It drives consumer confidence and helps increase conversion rates.

3. Improves conversion rates and sales

Many studies have shown that incorporating AR experiences into online shopping drastically improves sales.

  • A study by Deloitte showed that customers that are able to use AR for shopping on a website are 30% more likely to purchase a product on that website than those without AR.
  • A study by Harvard Business Review highlights that online stores that use AR see an average of a 20% increase in conversions.
  • The same Harvard Business Review study also notes that AR gives potential customers more confidence about the quality of a product, with 61% of customers preferring to shop with retailers that offer AR experiences. 

4. Increases customer satisfaction and reduces returns

You wouldn’t want customers to open their purchases when it arrives and realise they didn’t get what they expected. 

It’s the worst. 

AR in eCommerce mitigates nasty surprises as customers have a more comprehensive understanding of their purchases. 

But not only are you improving their experience, but you’re also improving your bottom line

In the world of online retailing, return rates are at about 20% but can be as high as 50% in some apparel markets. Virtual try-on experiences can bring those numbers down by as much as 64%.

But this goes beyond simple profit margins. Every year some 5 billion pounds of returned products end up in landfills. That’s an environmental cost that boggles the mind and one that can be alleviated significantly by the implementation of AR in eCommerce.

How to get started with AR in eCommerce

Now that you’ve learned all the marvellous facts about AR in eCommerce, you might be wondering how to implement it into your business. 

Here’s a little crash course for you:

1. Goals & objectives

It’s important to decide what exactly it is that you wish to accomplish by adding AR to your platform. 

  1. Increase conversion rates?
  2. Raise brand awareness?
  3. Reduce product returns?
  4. Increase customer engagement?

By answering these questions, you’ll know which avenue to choose. 

Take ASOS’s See My Fit option. Because of the pandemic, the company needed a way to boost online sales, provide its customers a chance to try out its clothes and keep its staff safe through social distancing. 

In knowing exactly what it wanted to accomplish, AR technology in eCommerce became the obvious choice. 

2. Identify use case 

Once you have your goal, the next step is to decide on the best way to reach it. 

Every business has different pain points, but when it comes to eCommerce, there aren’t many pain points AR can’t resolve. 

Whether it’s product visualisation or customisation, allowing customers to ‘try on’ your products, or experiencing your store through the website, AR technology in eCommerce has got your covered. 

For example, La Marzocco once faced a simple problem: allowing customers to visualise their products in-home. La Marzocco offers state-of-the-art coffee machines, but those babies cost $5,000 a pop, so La Marzocco needed to provide its customers with the chance to customise its products to see how they would fit in their kitchens. 

A 3D product configurator coupled with AR turned out to be the answer. With a configurator, potential customers are able to customise the product to their specifications and visualise what the product would look like in their homes. 

3. Define KPIs 

Key performance indicators help you keep track of the effectiveness of AR in eCommerce and ensure you make necessary adjustments if they turn out to be needed. 

Here are some of the KPIs to keep in mind:

Increased conversion ratesThe rate of abandoned shopping carts
Reduced return ratesThe drop in the number of returned products
Customer engagementYou can measure it by the time customers spend on your website
Customer satisfactionYou can measure it through customer surveys and questionnaires

4. Define budget

Money talks, and at the end of the day, the success of AR in eCommerce is in large part dependent on how much you’re willing to invest in it. Investments in AR technology have proven to be well worth it

But the size of the investment largely depends on your needs. A simple 3D product viewer is much cheaper than a 3D product configurator. Here’s an example of Plattar’s company’s pricing structure that might help you better understand the investment AR will require.

5. Identify suitable solutions 

Do you want to build an AR app yourself? 

Or do you want an off-the-shelf SaaS option? 

Both options have their pros and cons, so here are a couple of facts to keep an eye on:

Build in-houseBuy subscription
ProsIncreased controlAbility to customiseSaves timeTechnical issues resolved by customer support techniciansLower cost
ConsTime-consumingTechnically challengingHigher costNot customisableMonthly payments

6. Compare platforms

When it comes to platforms, it is key to understand your specific needs, 

Different platforms specialise in different niches in the market, and finding the company that matches your niche will go a long way to help you get it right. 

7. Create 3D assets

Maybe you already have 3D assets. If so, you’re one step ahead. 

But if you don’t, you’ll be happy to learn it won’t take much to catch up. 

There are two main ways to go about acquiring 3D assets:

  1. Do-It-Yourself: By DIY, we mean you have to organise the creation of 3D assets yourself and oversee it to make sure they are done properly. Find a 3D modelling expert. Provide them with six photos of your product (well-lit and properly focused) and the dimension of your product. Based on the photos and the dimensions, they will create your 3D assets and you’ll be able to preview them to ensure their quality.
  1. Find-An-Expert: By working with a company like Plattar, you can take the headaches and the uncertainty out of the equation. This way, you’ll get end-to-end 3D and AR services. And with the help of a network of experienced 3D artists, you can ensure that your 3D assets are optimised for a high-quality user experience. 

It’s time to take AR seriously

Whether or not people and organisations would like to admit it, AR in eCommerce is the future. It answers an integral need in the market with innovative solutions that will only improve with time. 

All around the world, customers are becoming more familiar with AR in eCommerce and are coming to expect it in every shopping experience. 

Before long, adopting AR won’t be an option so much as a prerequisite  to keep up with the competition.

So examine your needs and options, and separate yourself from the competition while the going is good. 

Book a demo with Plattar and start your AR journey today.