Augmented reality store portals you can walk into: ‘the future of e-commerce'

May 12, 2023
Augmented reality store portals you can walk into: ‘the future of e-commerce'
Photos: Unsplash

The future of e-commerce could see augmented reality ‘portals’ that customers can walk into to browse products without visiting the store directly.

This means that shoppers will effectively be able to pop to the shops without going anywhere and could be accessed from any location – such as the comfort of your own home, or even the beach.

It may sound like something lifted straight from a Harry Potter book, but this could be our reality according to Sunken Blimp, an architectural design studio which specializes in creating spaces in multiple realities, such as AR and virtual reality (VR).

The company posted a video on its TikTok account that showcased exactly how the portals could look.

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In the clip, a narrator wearing an augmented reality (AR) headset can be seen on a beach viewing reality normally before an accessible portal comes into view.

The portal is the entrance to a virtual store layout belonging to furniture retailer Serendipity Furniture, which the narrator walks into and can be seen walking around. The portal door back to the beach is still accessible.

He said: “This might be the future of e-commerce and architecture. Look at this, this is the portal into Serendipity Furniture store, which is a furniture store that uses inspiration from sea creatures and seashells. You can go into this portal and suddenly you’re in the space... full on immersive.”

READ MORE: Augmented reality in e-commerce

The narrator continues to explain how the AR technology would sit in reality.

“Currently I’m walking on the beach looking around and you can see the different furniture pieces and explore all that and see what’s on the menu or catalog,” he said.

“But when you look back, that’s the portal again for you to come out and walk back to the surface. You can experience this portable portal into whatever store you’re walking into.”

The video has since gone viral, with more than 1.2million views.

READ MORE: Four advantages of augmented reality that brands should know about

This prediction echoes research conducted by Snap in October, which highlighted the “huge untapped potential” of AR for retailers.

The social media company, which owns Snapchat, found that brands are not grasping exactly how customers want to use AR when shopping.

According to Charged Retail, Snap surveyed more than 25,000 people across 11 markets, in partnership with market researchers Ipsos. The data revealed that 94% of brands still think that the main attraction for people to use the technology is for fun.

But the study also found that only 54% of people see ‘fun’ as the driver to use AR, with 55% of UK consumers listing shopping as their top reason for engaging with it.

Importantly, the data revealed that 82% of brands believe that using AR in their sales strategy allows them to offer a smooth customer experience, helping to drive sales.

Our take

AR portals can be an original marketing piece and a great engaging sneak peek into 3D environments of virtual stores. Users can evoke products (through augmented reality CTAs) into their unique physical environment and view them life-sized.  

However, walking around a life-sized 3D environment (such as a shop) requires a significant empty space around the user to avoid tripping over or hitting a wall – so the customer experience is unclear.  

Until AR glasses become mainstream, we see AR portals as a complement of 3D virtual stores on screen. These allow for full 3D walkarounds, interactions with life-sized products through augmented reality and arguably a more social buying experience that includes several people.

To find out how you can use 3D and AR with your business, contact Enhance today or book a free demo.

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