According to Snapchat’s consumer AR global report 2021, nearly 75% of the global population will be a frequent augmented reality (AR) user by 2025. AR offers brands an effective way to engage customers, an especially compelling advantage with attention spans at an all-time low. Through interactive tools that offer exciting, immersive experiences, AR allows brands to make an impact on their audience and remain relevant.
Augmented reality in e-commerce has been steadily growing as brands recognize its ability to drive customer engagement. From fashion to home improvement, AR helps customers immerse themselves in the complete shopping experience from the comfort of their own sofas.
AR allows e-commerce customers to experience products almost as if they were physically present in store. Buyers can ‘preview’ the product before making a purchase in order to make more informed buying decisions.
Snapchat’s survey found that 74% of consumers say AR has a high entertainment value. The app, which also identifies as a ‘camera company,’ was among the first to bring AR to social media. Its dog ears and animated beard feature quickly gained traction, with 332 million users engaging in 6 billion AR experiences daily.
Sephora, the global cosmetics retailer, launched the ‘Virtual Artist’ tool on its mobile app in 2016. This AR feature allowed customers to virtually ‘try on’ products before adding them to cart.
Another way brands incorporate augmented reality into their e-commerce journeys is by allowing customers to visualize items in their own spaces. The Swedish furniture giant Ikea launched a Christmas edition on its AR-enabled mobile app Ikea Place in 2017. Customers could select a product and position their smartphone’s camera to the space it would take in their homes. This allowed them to preview the placement of Christmas trees and other decorations before buying.
Lastly, 49% of consumers want AR integrated with instructional guides. Brands recognize AR’s ability to help customers understand and utilize products optimally. Mercedes Benz replaced its owner’s manual with an AR app in Germany in 2018. Owners open the app and point the camera at the controls they want information on. ‘How-to’ videos and guides would then pop onto the screen.
The average attention span today stands at eight seconds. Naturally, brands are competing to keep customers locked onto their products. AR facilitates interactive and immersive customer journeys, driving user engagement.
According to Snapchat’s Gen Z survey, over 50% of surveyors said they’d be more likely to pay attention to an advertisement incorporating AR, and 92% are interested in using AR for shopping.
Another example is that of Ulta Beauty. Its AR-enabled beauty tool, GLAMlab, allows customers to try on their products virtually, much like Sephora. By integrating this engagement-heavy and exciting feature, the brand witnessed a sevenfold increase in engagement after the launch. Further, it reported US$ 6 million in incremental purchases on Snapchat and over US$ 30 million in product try-ones within the first two weeks.
An old complaint customers have about shopping online is the inability to view the product in its entirety. Up until now, they have had to make do with photos and videos on e-commerce stores. Unsurprisingly, customers return products that don’t meet their expectations.
This can be tackled efficiently with AR technology. Brands can effectively reduce returns by allowing customers to ‘preview’ what they’re purchasing.
A survey also found that 61% of online shoppers prefer sites offering AR technology, and 63% said it improves their shopping experience.
According to Gartner, 100 million consumers are already shopping with the help of AR technology. 94% say they’ll use it the same or more in the future.
In fact, the consumer demographic is changing. Gen Z is set to dominate the consumer spending group by 2026, and 51% of those surveyed say AR is essential to them. If e-commerce brands are to stay relevant, integrating AR technology is the way to go.
Integrating AR into e-commerce platforms requires brands to evaluate their business objectives first. Knowing what their customer journeys should look like is the first step towards launching AR-enabled offerings. Next, brands need to choose the AR tool that best meets their objectives. After choosing the right AR tool, they need to market it efficiently to get the word out.
Incorporating AR into their customer journeys is necessary for e-commerce platforms to grow their customer base and deliver superior customer journeys. By partnering with AR companies like Enhance, who can craft interactive customer experiences depending on the product and its purpose. This includes 3D WebAR projections, which create engaging on-site experiences and virtual showrooms. Enhance helps integrate these AR experiences on different platforms, and gives insights into customer interactions with AR objects. This sheds light on customer engagement and the success of the advertising campaign.