Technology is changing the way we shop online. Ecommerce sellers who learn how to leverage all the IT tools at their disposal now will stay a step ahead of the competition in the future. One of the biggest and most innovative trends of the future will be the increasing use of augmented reality (AR) by retailers. Before we get into ways online retailers can use augmented reality to increase sales, let’s discuss what it actually is.
What is Augmented Reality?
Developed mainly with the smartphone in mind, AR simply means superimposing information on the real environment around us in 3D. As opposed to virtual reality (VR), where a viewer gets the sensation that they’re in a different environment, AR is adding something to your real surroundings.
In late 2017, the Harvard Business Review reported that spending on AR is set to reach a whopping $60 billion by 2020. This starts to make sense when we consider a RetailPerceptions study reporting that an overwhelming 71% of online shoppers prefer buying more often at stores that offer AR.
Put yourself in your target customers’ boots and consider how AR can make shopping at your store more fun and interactive. How will customers use it and what can you do to encourage them to view and buy more products? Your next steps will depend on your business strategy and whether you’re engaged in multichannel selling. Here are 3 augmented reality uses for online retailers.
1. Tailor the App to Your Products
If your potential buyer is on their smartphone, AR technology channeled through an app can integrate with their camera to help them bridge the gap between the products in your store and their environment.
For retailers that sell things like clothing, accessories and watches, AR can be used by customers to see how their next purchase will look on them. Facebook, in partnership with Michael Kors, has even started running ads that let shoppers “try on” sunglasses as they browse through their timeline. Being able to mix and match different combinations of items can boost sales even more.
If you’re selling bigger items like furniture or appliances for example, customers might be able to check whether the product would fit where they want it and how it would look.
2. Make it Interactive
With customers able to virtually test out lots of different products in a short amount of time on themselves or in a given space, the chances that they’ll buy multiple products are lot higher.
Make it easy for them to try multiple products at once. If you sell home decor, give them the ability to design the room with your product line. While you’re at it, why not give them a little extra incentive by offering special discounts for doing so?
3. Always Ask for Feedback
Just because you built it, doesn’t mean it is effective. After a customer makes a purchase (or even uses the technology), be sure to send out follow up emails asking them how their shopping experience went and whether they would suggest any improvements. Throw in a question about product presentation and how easy or tough it was for them to decide which product to buy.
Maybe incorporate the feedback option within the technology. Doing this will give you valuable feedback on points you need to improve while showing your customers you appreciate their business.
How Can I Incorporate AR in My Store?
Take Advantage of Sales Platform Resources
Online shopping carts such as Shopify have made it possible for small retailers to incorporate AR into their product listings, with 3D modeling of products. Teaming up with Apple and it’s AR Quicklook, Shopify has made it easy for over 600,000 sellers to integrate AR into their stores.
Point of sale (POS) apps that are AR compatible are included into the monthly fees starting at $79 per month. Other third-party apps like Amikasa allow sellers to upload their wares in 3D.
Develop Your Own App
If your store isn’t attached to big sales platforms, you may want to consider building your own application that incorporates AR. Development costs – if you’re like most sellers and won’t be doing the coding yourself – will definitely vary depending on the location you plan to hire developers. ThinkMobiles gives us a rough idea of how much you can expect to pay in developer fees.
If your store is selling online without the help of a big sales platform, having your own app will improve the customers buying experience and add to the convenience of online shopping, making them want to come back again and again.
Get Ahead of the Competition
Big companies like Amazon and Ikea have already started using AR to boost online sales, but two-thirds of companies still don’t use it in their business.
Since the majority of online sales are made by small and medium-sized businesses, the sooner you start integrating AR into your business, the more competitive you’ll become. Also, keeping a close watch on evolving customer tastes when it comes to the shopping experience itself will give you a huge edge in the competitive online marketplace.