Augmented Reality (AR) is on the rise in e-commerce.
Some online stores are compensating for the lack of sensory product information through AR. This technology lets shoppers virtually interact, test, and try on products through an electronic device by layering digital information over the real world. Through AR, shoppers can see how a couch would fit in their home, for instance.
IKEA’s AR app allows shoppers to place true-to-scale 3D models in their own space virtually. The app lets customers see how a product would fit in their home. Image source: IKEA
Giving shoppers more contextual and visual information through AR can increase the shopper’s confidence that what they’re buying will match their expectations. This, in turn, will decrease return rates, increase customer satisfaction, and boost brand loyalty.
It’s important to note that according to the 2022 Bazaarvoice Shopper Experience Index (with data collected from December 2021 to January 2022), only 12% of global shoppers included augmented reality in their “five must-have factors” when buying confidently.
So, augmented reality might not be essential to the e-commerce conversion rate optimization toolbox … yet, depending on the type of products you sell. For some industries, the pandemic has made augmented reality table stakes.
Augmented Reality in the Beauty Industry
Beauty brand L’Oreal, for example, had been using AR technology to allow customers to try on their products even before the COVID outbreak virtually. And even pre-pandemic, using the technology resulted in a 3x increase in sales for the beauty company.
The pandemic has made virtual try-ons essential for makeup brands, even for in-store experiences. As shoppers are no longer able to physically try on makeup samples due to hygiene and safety concerns, they depend on augmented reality to see if a beauty product complements their skin tone, for instance.
NYX Professional Makeup, a subsidiary of L’Oreal, gets a couple of things right about using AR to help shoppers pick items best suited to them. For one, they make immediately obvious on the category page which items the shopper can virtually try on:
The “Try It On” callout in the upper-left corner of the product image on NYX’s category page acts as a visual indicator that the customer can preview the item through AR.
NYX’s product detail page has a “Try It On” call-to-action ghost button below the product image.
The beauty brand’s virtual try-on lets customers sample the product using their live camera, uploading a photo, or choosing a model.
Is Augmented Reality Important for E-commerce?
According to 2020 data from Vertebrae, a company specializing in AR and 3D commerce, conversion rates go up by 90% for consumers who engage in AR compared to those who don’t.
Shopify also noted in September 2021 that while there wasn’t much reliable research on how AR affects conversion rates yet, their internal data showed AR’s strong potential.
So, if it makes sense for your business and you have the resources, consider letting your customers preview and interact with your products through augmented reality. It is predicted, after all, that nearly 75% of people worldwide and almost all smartphone users will be frequent AR users by 2025.
You can dip your toes in AR for shopping by utilizing applications like SnapAR and Meta Spark. Be warned, however, that even these apps require technical skills. You’ll need someone with the expertise to make art or 3D models to use in the AR environment.