Business transformation
Why Immersive technology is the future of online shopping (3 Reasons)
Business transformation

Why Immersive technology is the future of online shopping (3 Reasons)

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February 21, 2023

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Businesses are using immersive tech to improve customer experience (CX) and brand image. 3D and augmented reality (AR) has disrupted e-commerce, and there's no going back. 

The first fully-functional AR system was created in 1992 to train US military personnel. A decade later, Volkswagen's AR app helped technicians visualize repair work in advance. Next, immersive technologies took over media and entertainment.

Then, in 2017, the retail giant IKEA launched the AR app IKEA Place.

Ikea's AR-based shopping app was the first of its kind. With it, immersive tech finally arrived on the e-commerce scene - and it was here to stay. 

IKEA Place demystified immersive technologies for the average consumer. Shoppers could now use an AR app to visualize IKEA products in their homes. They could change fabric textures and also check how furnishings looked under different lighting. 

Through IKEA Place, IKEA was able to improve CX and boost sales across channels in a single stroke. E-commerce firms are following suit and are adopting immersive technologies for business success.

This article will explore how immersive technologies are transforming e-commerce

Eliminate customer guesswork by providing next-level visuals

How have 3D and AR redefined e-commerce? 

Immersive technologies have revolutionized man-machine engagement. Customers now have a better shopping experience, shop more, and return fewer products. Businesses, in turn, use immersive experiences to drive sales and gain customer insights.

On the one hand, VR pulls customers into alternate virtual universes. On the other, AR superimposes digital renders on the user's environment, enhancing it.

3D, AR, and VR are more than fancy engagement tools for customers to play around with. Instead, they improve customer experience by increasing engagement. This drives sales and conversion rates, and builds a superior brand image. 

But immersive technologies do another crucial task. They bridge the gap between the physical and the digital. 

3 ways immersive tech transforms e-commerce

1. Immersive technology offers hyper-personalized CX

A brick-and-mortar store offers a shopping experience consumers are familiar and comfortable with. Here, shoppers can browse the shelves, examine items, try them on, and compare prices at leisure. 

AR mimics the tactility of the in-store experience when shopping online. 61% of customers even say that they prefer to shop from websites that offer an immersive experience. 

Customers get a try-before-you-buy experience with AR. This helps them make better decisions and reduces the number of returns.

2. With AR, businesses can reduce return rates

Another challenging aspect of online shopping is making buying decisions. This is true in the retail clothing industry, where product return rates are higher. 

With 3D and AR, customers get a try-before-you-buy experience. This helps them make better decisions and reduce the number of returns. In the case of Macy's, AR helped reduce return rates to less than 2%.

Customers can look at a product's appearance and size with AR. This improves customer confidence and reduces product returns. Click on "See in your space" to see these boots in your home

Read more: The cost of product returns, and what to do about it

3. Immersive technologies produce a wealth of valuable business data

Accessing customer data would be more challenging in a world without immersive tech. E-commerce businesses would have to rely on half-baked data from web pages and screens.

But thanks to AR and VR, businesses can learn how customers interact with 3D products. This reveals a goldmine of valuable customer data inaccessible through apps and websites.

The Metaverse and the future of immersive e-commerce

The 'metaverse' is a virtual universe. It exists as a combination of many innovations that interoperate seamlessly. From NFTs to AR and VR, the metaverse will unite the physical and the digital worlds.

E-commerce in the metaverse is, thus, an amalgam of everything physical and digital. And what better tool to enable this union than immersive technologies? Retail giants are already setting up stores in the Metaverse.

Amazon was the first to incorporate early metaverse technology into its marketplace. Its AR Room Decorator allowed users to visualize home decor in their physical space. This takes the guesswork out of shopping.

Eyewear retailer Warby Parker, meanwhile, has created a virtual fitting app. Users can try on glasses from their catalogs in real-time through the app. Gucci and Adidas are also working on metaverse stores.

Read more: Meta Connect 2023 signals accelerating shift to immersive commerce

Where do we go from here?

The first step to embracing the metaverse is creating a 3D product catalog powered by AR. The second, is ensuring customers can access them.

The easiest way to do this is to integrate WebAR into online shopping experiences. And Enhance can help with it. Then, as technologies advance, companies can introduce more robust AR tech.

Over time, businesses will seek ways to attract customers with immersive shopping experiences. Data insights from customer AR interactions will help them optimize the customer journey. This will make hyper-personalized CX a must-have.

The road to the future is evident; for many, the journey has already begun.

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