Augmented and virtual reality technologies offer 3D visualisations, virtual fittings, and various product demonstrations. Consumers are given the opportunity to try out products before they buy them. Shopping becomes more conscious, and this helps reduce return rates.
Initially, VR and AR were used commercially in the entertainment industry.. However, other members of the business community, including retailers, soon began to appreciate the technology's capabilities.
A consumer survey conducted by Google showed that 66% of people are interested in using augmented reality technology for shopping. AR provides more detailed information on products and brings them to life, from the digital space to the real world.
What Are VR and AR
Virtual reality is a digital space accessible through a virtual reality helmet. The technology provides the physical and psychological sensation of immersion in an interactive, artificially generated 3D space. Virtual reality is typically deployed in showrooms, shopping malls and other offline venues where VR space with special helmets is available.
Augmented reality is a layer of digital information displayed on a tablet or smartphone on top of physical world objects. The goal of augmented reality is to change and expand the environment with digital data.
With AR and VR technology, online retailers can interact with customers and build strong and trusting relationships. Augmented reality technology increases consumer engagement, which ultimately affects conversion rates.
The benefits of augmented and virtual reality technology for e-commerce businesses:
- An innovative image of the company is formed, which creates a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
- Customers can try on products - clothes, glasses, cosmetics - before they buy them.
- The convenience of technology encourages customers to buy more and more often from companies that give them an augmented reality experience.
- Significant savings in time and money for trips to shops. This will also attract customers who are unable to visit offline stores due to being busy.
One gets the impression that VR/AR applications are complex and burdensome solutions, but the opposite is true. Three-dimensional, lifelike objects that you can 'fit' into an interior or try on are the clearest solution for the brain.
Investment in augmented and virtual reality technology by major brands is on the rise.
The Virtual Artist app from Sephora lets you 'try on' eye shadow, lipstick, blush or false eyelashes. Step-by-step digital tutorials show you how to recreate the look. The Color Match function processes the user's photo by artificial intelligence. In this way the application selects the shades that best suit the client's skin tone.
In September 2017, the Swedish chain IKEA unveiled its AR app. Ikea Place helps to understand how a piece of furniture would look in a customer's interior. To do so, it is enough to install the app on a smartphone, scan the future location of the furniture and select a product from the chain's catalogue. The app takes into account the actual size of the surrounding furniture and creates a realistic image on the screen of the smartphone.
American company MAC Cosmetics has started to install AR-stands in its shops, which work as interactive mirrors. With their help, customers can see how a particular makeup will look on their faces.
French DIY retailer Leroy Merlin launched an augmented reality app for iOs in October 2017. Like Ikea, it allows you to 'try on' decorative goods as well as furniture and appliances in a customer's interior.
In 2018, L'Oreal acquired ModiFace, a developer of AR-based product fitting technology. Using this technology, customers can 'try on' beauty products, a new hair colour, as well as analyse their skin tone and match it with the right shade. According to L'Oreal, when customers use the ModiFace service, the conversion rate increases threefold.
In 2020, Cadillac announced the opening of a showroom that operates in virtual space. The online lounge's functionality allows you to see the Cadillac models that have been released, as well as see which cars will appear in the brand's range in the future.
Lego installed augmented reality terminals in retail outlets back in 2010. Customers simply had to hold a box in front of the terminal screen and an image of the assembled Lego set would appear on the screen.
In 2015, Lego released another app called 'Lego X', in which you can use Lego parts to create a three-dimensional model on your gadget. The parts are equipped with sensors and gyroscopes, allowing the app to track them and compose a model in real-time on the platform as soon as you start constructing.
All indications are that AR content will soon become the new 'rule of thumb' in product presentation. Augmented reality provides potential customers with direct contact with a product, allowing them to remove most questions about its features, dimensions and usability.
For brands, it is a great way to present their products. And for retailers, it is a handy tool to retain attention and increase returns for repeat purchases.
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