You want to sell. Your customers want to buy. Somewhere down the line, things always get too complicated.
The shared obstacles between you and your customer can be overwhelming on both ends:
- The market is saturated and it’s hard to stand out
- Illustrating all the options is difficult
- Products are hard to compare and visualise
- Some items are impractical to sample
- Returns are expensive and inconvenient
A lot of companies accept the struggle and try to make the most out of it. On the other hand, industry leaders are actually solving these problems using AR.
If you want to put these issues behind you, learn how to implement augmented reality for your business and increase eCommerce sales, read on.
What is Augmented Reality
Augmented reality sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it disappointingly has little to do with bending spoons with your mind.
In fact, you’ve probably unknowingly used AR before. Ever tried on an Instagram or TikTok filter?
Now think about the value of that concept in different industries: when you want to show how your couch will fit inside someone’s living room, or to practice complex medical procedures without risk, or to instruct an employee on operating a piece of equipment.
It’s not to be confused with virtual reality. So to ensure we’re on the same page, let’s run through the differences between AR and VR real quick:
|Augmented Reality||Virtual Reality|
|What it is||AR uses a real-life setting and adds layers to it. It’s often used to help with visualisation and bring the enhanced version of reality to the user, wherever they are.||VR is an immersive experience intended to pull the user into another, a virtual world organised outside of their control.|
|What it takes||AR often requires devices like phones, tablets, headsets, etc.||VR requires a headset device.|
|Which industries use it||Healthcare, Retail, Education, Manufacturing, Marketing, Beauty, Navigation, Food and beverage||Gaming, Entertainment, Healthcare, Real estate, Tourism, Design, Law enforcement|
Advantages of Augmented Reality in Business
So, what are the advantages of using augmented reality in business? What could it do for you and your customers?
1. Reduce Returns
Returns are a cost to the business and consumer.
- It means your product wasn’t the right fit
- Shipping, repackaging, and restocking costs are incurred
- Time and enjoyment is lost for you and your customer
How does AR address these issues? Returns happen because:
- The customer was expecting something else
- They couldn’t visualise the product accurately
- They made assumptions based on unclear information
- The product they received inevitably fell short of the hype
Augmented reality for business closes that gap. It leaves no room for assumptions because people get to try things out before buying so they know what they’re signing up for.
This minimises unpleasant surprises and increases the chances of successful purchases.
2. Increase Buying Confidence by Showing the Entire Product
Visualisation is especially important with bigger and more complex products.
Even items that perhaps should be obvious are sometimes hard to visualise.
On the Titanic, if Rose had access to augmented reality, maybe she would have figured out that there was enough room on that door for both her and Jack to float on…
71% of people who said they would shop more if they could use AR also want this opportunity, and 40% would even consider paying more for the product if they could test it first.
Makes sense, right?
If you could see a demo that shows what a product looks like and how exactly it would fit in with your home or office, wouldn’t you feel more secure making the purchase?
3. Grow Revenue
Still wondering if augmented reality is really profitable?
AR saves on the cost of physical space, sampling, and shipping, but also generates significant revenue. Here’s how:
- Online – by allowing at home or in-environment product visualisation, consumers are more likely to convert as they have greater confidence in their purchasing decision
- In-store – by encouraging better self-service capability, customer demos, and item visualisation customers can gain a better understanding of if the product is right for them
- In showrooms – by displaying a range of options and offering possible product configurations through AR, retailers can reduce the need for high display inventory reducing showroom space requirements and cutting costs
- Product demonstrations – for those retailers selling larger products like appliances, AR enables salespeople the ability to showcase and demonstrate product functionality regardless of space available or location
Still can’t picture it? Don’t worry, that’s our specialty.
People who use AR are 11x more likely to make a purchase.
In our experience, the statistics don’t lie. For example, Plattar has helped Snooze reach a 40% increase in online sales conversions over using, traditional product pages.
4. Make the Customer Experience Memorable
Augmented reality for business makes the user experience much more interactive and immersive.
The users aren’t just viewing pictures of products far removed from their premises or seeing them live but in stores. The products are brought to them, wherever they are.
This makes buying way more personal and relevant and often achieves mutually-exclusive eCommerce objectives:
- To showcase all the different product customisation options
- To do this for each product without worrying about store formats, limited space and travel restrictions
Users get to play with the possibilities, which can be a lot of fun on its own and eventually find something exactly right for their needs.
Memorable experience? You bet.
Memorable means share-worthy, another significant advantage of augmented reality compared to boring old real life.
It’s new, helpful, and fun—just the kind of thing you’d recommend to friends.
5. Encourage Engagement with Your Brand
Considering the previous point, it shouldn’t be surprising that you can improve customer engagement with augmented reality.
Once people find their way to your website, the impression they form could get them to close the window and move on when they’re done.
Or they could return many times over.
That’s because, with AR, you’re offering much more than just a better grasp of the product. You’re offering an experience.
Here’s an example built by Plattar for Hell Pizza: Zombies from Hell.
Instead of just getting food as they would from any other place, Hell’s customers get to shoot zombies while eating their favourite pizza just by downloading an app and pointing their devices at the box.
This was a huge success with their gamer customers and helped set the company apart from their competitors. What are some of the results of this investment?
- 40,000+ downloads
- 8th most downloaded app in NZ
- Estimated $2 million worth of pizza sold
- Over 400,000 people reached through social media
- Featured on over 50 websites
Now, your AR offering doesn’t have to include zombies or violence (but it could). As long as it’s entertaining and appealing to your target audience, augmented reality can:
- Generate social media buzz
- Give your company an edge
- Offer an incentive for customers to interact with your brand
- Help you break the ice and become familiar with your audience
6. Remove the Need for In-Person Store Visits
If ever there was a need to do everything you can from a safe distance, it’s now.
Traditionally, customers would have the choice to either come by your store and sample your products (which, even if every single product were available in-store, would leave the issue of: but how would this work in my environment?) or to rely on pictures and information they can find online to decide for better or worse if the product will work.
What if you could have the best of both worlds?
Augmented reality offers perks like:
- Shopping from the comfort of one’s home
- Ease of product visualisation
- Saving time traveling
- Sampling in 3D, with a 360-degree view
- More personalisation and configuration options
- Easy product comparison
- Browsing from a virtual store
Customers get everything they need (and more) without the risk of contracting a virus or even having to know the weather outside.
7. Allow your company to stand out
Think about how many times you were interested to read something, clicked on a link, and got transferred to a severely outdated website with nothing but lists of blue links everywhere.
Your trust is immediately compromised.
This is especially important for companies in industries that need to bank on user experience and brand image.
Today, augmented reality for business is the cutting-edge tech that businesses are already using. But even though it’s still in its infancy, this isn’t a brand new idea anymore, and not using it looks more and more like a telling business choice than an industry standard.
Like the time people were first transitioning to touch-screen phones. Some resisted it for the longest time, others welcomed it wholeheartedly.
Both choices say something about you.
If you’re a company that claims values such as being innovative or tech-forward, you need to walk the talk.
Would you rather stand out:
- Because you’re resisting change and innovation, or
- Because you’re a trailblazer redefining your industry?
It’s updated or be outdated in this world. If it doesn’t make you #1, AR can at least keep you in the game.
8. Increase Customer Retention
Once you’ve had your pizza and fought zombies in a 3D, AR setting, why would you opt for a lesser experience of just plain boring pizza ever again?
Augmented reality leaves a lasting impression.
It gives people a reason to return to your brand time after time.
They are more likely to shop at your store again, and they are also inclined to spend more time on your website and get exposed to more of your online content, letting you build a rapport.
They are also more likely to shop at your store again.
We know you know how difficult it can be to gain the trust of a new audience, so it makes a lot of sense to get as far as you can with the ones who are already onboard.
Nurture, entertain, and show them you care about their journey as much as the destination.
9. Reduce Time-to-Market
Time-to-market doesn’t mark how much time you need to market your product.
It measures how long it takes from the original idea conception (or the beginning of product development) until the moment of the first sale.
The rapidly evolving, wildly competitive world we live in rewards shorter TTM with:
- A competitive edge
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Greater growth and revenue
Properly deployed, augmented reality solutions can speed up every part of the product moving and sales process.
|Pain Point||Fluctuating consumer trends and seasonal variations create unpredictable variables in predicting and balancing stock levels. Overstocking ties up capital and risks unsold products, while understocking jeopardises sales and customer satisfaction.||Meeting customers’ high expectations for speedy and reliable delivery, coordinating across multiple channels, and navigating last-mile complexities are all challenges of online retail. Efficiently handling returns and adapting to the growing eCommerce landscape add further complexity. Drivers waste a lot of time looking for the right boxes to deliver next.||The customer journey can take long and still potentially end in dissatisfaction. Customers struggle to visualise products in their space, leading to uncertainty. Complex custom options create decision paralysis, hindering conversions. Design integration is problematic, and uncertainty in size, proportions, color, and finish can lead to dissatisfaction and returns. Customer engagement suffers due to the absence of tangible interactions.|
|AR Solution||AR significantly reduces the cost of physical inventory sampling, as virtual models of products can be utilised instead. The real-time updating of virtual models ensures product information is always up-to-date on websites, streamlining management in one central location. AR also diminishing returns due to size, fit, or finish issues leading to enhanced customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.||By implementing AR-powered tagging and locating systems, each box can be accurately identified and placed in the right order, streamlining shipping processes and saving valuable time and money on deliveries. AR technology also reduces the necessity to ship physical samples by creating virtual product models, significantly cutting costs related to purchasing and shipping these samples.||AR provides retailers with powerful solutions to their challenges. It allows customers to visualise products in their space, driving confident purchases and offers innovative and immersive customer experience that can set products apart in a crowded market. Simplifying complex custom options and visualising products in context with accurate size, color, and finish reduces decision paralysis and boosts sales.|
Case Studies of Companies Using AR
Here are some examples of companies that use augmented reality today, how they do it, and what pain points they solve with it.
What if you bought a fridge, waited a week for it to arrive, and then it turned out it couldn’t fit between your counters?
What if you thought it would match the colour scheme of your kitchen but its shade is different and sticks out? Or turns out half of what you saw on the low-res picture was the freezer that comes separately and costs extra?
Ikea’s Place App was made to avoid disaster scenarios like this.
In fact, Ikea was one of the first retailers to experiment with this technology in 2012, before Pokemon GO was even a thing.
This company was an early adopter of the Apple ARKit. Below are some of its newer features.
|Feature||What it does|
|Room Sets||Allows you to try out different room possibilities according to themes like dining room, office, bedroom, etc. You are presented with curated furniture combinations – especially useful if imagination and interior design aren’t your forte.|
|For Your Feed||Shows a daily stream of inspiration with new furniture and combination ideas to scroll through.|
|Multiplacement||Allows you to pick and try several items together.|
|Wishlist||Enables you to keep wishlists of products tested using augmented reality.|
By implementing augmented reality, Ikea solved a bunch of problems that usually come with selling furniture and provided customers with a helpful, inspiring, organisational tool.
Unsurprisingly, Ikea’s now doubling down on this idea with a new beta AR Studio offering.
Converse is another great example of augmented reality in retail.
With the easily accessible Sampler app, this brand enables customers to see how various models and colours of shoes would fit without having to leave the house or even get up from their couches.
Users simply need to point the device to their foot and select any number of shoes to test out.
This simple but effective app is enough to close the gap between indecisive and weary leads to loyal customers for Converse.
We couldn’t finish the case study list without showcasing another Plattar solution created for one of our own customers, DFO.
The objective was to drive more foot traffic and repeat customer visits around their shopping centres. To help them achieve this, we partnered with DFO to create an AR treasure hunt that had their customers run around collecting coins to enter a draw for a prize.
20% of users shared this experience and the conversion rate from EDM was 50%.
It’s Time to Consider Augmented Reality for Your Business
Selling products is not the straightforward process it once was.
eCommerce challenges can be solved with a little creativity and the proper use of AR.
You’ve learned about the major advantages of augmented reality for business:
- Reduces returns
- Increases buying confidence
- Makes your brand memorable
- Encourages customer engagement
- Eliminates the need to visit stores in person
- Helps you stand out
- Increases customer retention
- Reduces TTM
And you’ve even seen it in practice. If you’re ready to add augmented reality to your business, here’s why Plattar could be the right choice.
Want to learn even more things AR? Feel free to browse our blog.