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Augmented Reality: A promise for eCommerce in 2019 and future

At the height of its craze, the Pokemon Go AR game had 20 Million users on a daily basis. The game just showed to the world how powerful Augmented Reality really is. Now AR is slowly shedding its skin as an entertainment technology and stepping into greener pastures, especially where big-dollar investments are commonplace.

According to PwC’s 2017 Global IQ Survey, at least 24% of businesses are expected to make serious investments in Augmented Reality in three years. In fact, Apple is already betting big on Augmented Reality with Tim Cook referring to it as a big idea like the smartphone.

But, Why AR is so exciting? What makes it equally enticing for users as well as business houses? What scope does it have in the digital era?

The enticing factor of Augmented Reality in eCommerce

What makes augmented reality so exciting is that it pikes up the interests of everyone from young adults to giant corporations. Until now content was largely consumed by users on phone screens. In fact, according to Mckinsey and company, evidence from the last decade found that users are spending as much as 47% of their time on screen-based devices than on any other activity.

Augmented Reality: A promise for eCommerce

 

Data Source: McKinsey

On a large scale, the most common formats of content served are text, visuals, and videos. And, these content pieces are also served to segments of users with personalization happening at a grander scale. There is no user-level personalisation happening as such. Augmented Reality Applications are all set to change that.

Augmented Reality will blur the lines between physical and digital worlds thus making more contextual information easily available to users. It will bring digital snippets alive on user screens that will make information consumption easier and more interactive. Also, the information can be easily consumed by any user without the requirement of any special know-how.

AR running amok in industries

From sky-high aviation to underground mining, augmented reality is touch base in every industry. Its immersive ability that showcases relevant and real-time information on physical spaces can be a real time-saver for several business processes.

Once commonplace, AR can bring to businesses several benefits like:

  • Greater flexibility in providing information

  • Real-time rendering of accurate information

  • Better operational productivity

AR in eCommerce - an oncoming positive disruption

eCommerce brought online shopping to our fingertips. Gone are the days of going to malls and checking clothes in trial rooms. Now, with augmented reality, e-commerce it is all set to take an interesting turn.

The massive growth of mobile commerce is also one reason which is putting augmented reality on the fast lane. In fact, 63% of customers believe that augmented reality can improve their shopping experience. Here are some ways how e-commerce will change face with the immersive power of augmented reality.

  • Product Visualization

Sad as it may sound, but at least 47% of online orders are returned by customers. Wrong sizes, wrong product dispatches, quality problems - there are plenty of reasons that make customers return their online purchases. The heavy volume of product returns along with the associated costs of logistics and replacement does affect the bottom line of e-commerce players.

Augmented reality can put a full stop to such unnecessary product returns. Customers can visualise how the products will fit them and how it will look on them in real-world before making the order. This will help customers make informed purchases as well as reduce the number of returned orders.

  • Virtual Trial Rooms

Did you know that Augmented Reality virtual trial rooms debuted way back in 2009 itself? However, the AR imaging and geospatial technology back then were not accurate enough to render perfect imagery that will satisfy customers.

Today, thanks to advancements in optical imaging technologies, AR’s capabilities to function as a virtual trial room has grown significantly. In a way, it will recreate the entire shopping experience for customers whether they are in-store or shopping online.

 

Lily’s virtual trial rooms in Shanghai metro is perhaps the best example that we can refer to today. Located in one of the busiest metro stations in Asia, the AR virtual room works by capturing the image of the user and matching it to clothes selected by the user. The user can select as many as models they want to trial and see the results on screen from multiple dimensions. It gives a real virtual room feel without the need to actually try on clothes physically.

The novel digital experience combined with convenience can take customer engagement to a whole new level. It will also help retail businesses curtail costs otherwise required for managing returns, additional delivery costs for returned costs, and so on.

Additionally, a brand’s fitting room not necessarily is restricted to physical locations. They can become omnipresent across any place where your customers frequent. This can help in magnifying the selling ability of the business.

  • Geo-location Tracking

Augmented reality geolocation tracking a.k.a marker-less AR is a technology that places virtual information over the real-time location. For example, if you are standing looking to try out a restaurant you can view the star ratings and other details through an AR screen.

In fact, Google Maps - the most widely used navigation system will soon have Augmented Reality in it. The feature was demonstrated by Google Vice President Aparna Chennapragada at 2018 I/O developers conference.

Neither Aparna Chennapragada or Googe has confirmed whether the app would become mainstream, but, Blippar app is already enabling users to navigate accurately with the help of AR. Blippar’s AR city Beta Augmented Reality Maps and Navigation is bridging AR experience and navigation together.

Watch the video

 

In fact, this was the same technology that fueled the mad rush of Pokemon GO game. The game placed virtual avatars of Pokemon characters on real-time locations. Players were incentivized for collecting each avatar using the AR game app. AR’s geo-location tracking will have significant benefits for industries like on-demand services, tour and travel industry, outdoor promotion and advertising among many others.

Augmented Reality & e-commerce - An opportunity to be seized

IKEA - the Swedish furniture seller embraced Augmented reality to make furniture shopping more interactive. The AR app allows customers to place digital mockups of furniture of their choice in their homes to see if it fits in perfectly. This helps them buy the right size and type of furniture.

Lego, Sephora, Amazon, Wayfair, Hyundai - a handful of global brands have already testing waters with augmented reality. It is only a better of time before AR apps will flood app stores and become better alternatives for traditional 2D mobile apps.

In other words, augmented reality right now is an opportunity that must be seized by all eCommerce players who want to run ahead in the digitalisation race.

If you have an E-commerce business and want to change the user experience with augmented reality. Get in touch with us, our augmented reality application experts will help you transform your business. 



Tuhin Bhatt Co-Founder

Tuhin Bhatt is a co-founder of Intelivita, a leading Web and Mobile App Development Company with offices in the UK and India. He has expertise in Mobile Game, iOS, Android, AR and VR app technologies. With flawless command over mobile app development, Tuhin also has a passion to share his expertise with clients and other enthusiasts. His write-ups are usually based on Technology, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship.

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