With the dawn of smartphones, e-commerce has been a considerable success over traditional retail stores. A real-world example is Amazon. The online e-commerce giant has already overtaken World’s largest retail chain Walmart in terms of revenue. Though, online retailing comes with its own perks but still there are still few challenges that may become a hindrance in meeting the desired conversion rates, i.e converting users who just browse your site to a paying customer.
After research, it has been deduced that the reason to this problem is sensory limits. Customers rely on what they can touch, feel, see and evaluate personally. A customer’s trust on a particular deal or listing online is certainly a major factor that determines sales. E-commerce has already come up with a solution to this problem and that is Augmented Reality(AR), cousin of Virtual Reality (VR). AR will be a transforming element and is all ready to change the way we shop in the coming years. The aspect to ponder over is how they will turn “Augmented” into “Reality”?
How AR will bring Virtual life right in front of you?
Every time we browse a product on ecommerce website, tons of questions strike our mind like
‘Will these pillow covers look good with bedroom interiors?’, ‘Will this pair of jeans matches my white shirt? ‘, ‘Is this showpiece going good with my corner vase?’.
Instead of wasting your time thinking about these questions, AR will give customers a chance to closely evaluate products by projecting a virtual product using a smartphone or tablet camera.
Various e-commerce giants such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba are investing and shaking hands with tech companies to develop AR headsets which can render these projections in one’s surrounding environment.
With the release of iOS 11, Apple developed a ARKit which will be available to all iPhone users. Apple claims that ARKit will go far beyond our screen and blend the digital objects to real world. The developers at Apple have worked a lot to give a more realistic experience to its users such as
- True Depth Camera (for robust face recognition and precise positioning)
- Scene Manipulation and Light Estimation (ARKit understands the horizontal and vertical planes in a room and place the objects in smaller feature points and light estimation enables applying accurate light to virtual objects)
- Visual Inertial Odometry (ARKit uses VIO to understand the motion of device in the world around it eliminating the need of explicit calibration)
- High Performance Hardware and Rendering Optimizations (enabling fast-scene understanding and designing detailed virtual content)
How AR will benefit E-commerce Platforms?
AR’s “try before you buy” feature will be stabilizing the glitches that every e-tailor faces today.
Websites are more preferable mode of browsing products over an e-commerce platform even after the abundant use of apps. New use cases for apps will be written to access the capabilities of AR. With addition to this customer can get various in-store discounts and unlock special deals within the app banishing requirement of any different marketing platform, which will be eventually profitable in terms of business.
After implementing AR, E-commerce will be able to charge more than they used to and according to surveys the customers are willing to pay more if they will get to see things virtually in reality. This will increase the sales of other products too as a person willing to buy a new dress will probably buy a matching necklace by trying then and there.
Returns are frequent as many customers don’t find the product apt to their expectations such as ‘color wasn’t right’, ’fit was not perfect’ or it just looked different when delivered. The customer would get the money back since it is the policy. But it becomes a hassle when handling returns. It also harms the trust or loyalty factor a brand pursues in the market.
AR will give a more realistic view of every product and a customer gains confidence as the product will be based on immense evaluation and eventually it will mitigate the frequency of returns.
How will it benefit Customers?
Despite of all promises, a technology cannot be solely friendly towards sellers and brands. And hence, must also prove to be beneficial to customers to actually revolutionize the market. Listed below are some benefits of AR technology for customers.
- Elevating sense of ownership – It is obvious that when consumers engage with the product’s digital model in reality they will be having a closer relation with it. They will rather try to acquire it frequently.
- Enriched shopping experience – Shopping with AI enabled apps will be more fun than buying it at a retail store. This platform will let you try different looks in just one click. Consider a case where you want to buy a beauty product like a lipstick, at a store or a kiosk you have to try every shade in person to check whether it looks good or bad, but through augmented reality you can do the same without applying and removing the makeup until you’ve found the right one.
If done right, AR will be the most promising concept to recast the future of retail. It would be interesting how many ecommerce websites will adapt to this technology in this changing time. Shoppers must be really excited about this new augmented shopping experience. The developers need to work hard in maintaining constant updates as consumers will discard the concept if it fails to meet their needs.