Before you throw me into a sci-fi folder or cast me out into technological oblivion – let’s talk about AR real quick (augmented reality).
If you follow commerce news, you’ll see where Snapchat has partnered with Amazon and is slowly rolling out a new visual product search feature on their platform. This may not be huge (right now) but we think it has the power to truly disrupt the industry.
Sure, there are all types of technology that do not make life better. We typically qualify tech a few ways:
- Does it speed something up?
- Does it add a layer of confidence?
- Does it make something easier?
- Does it solve a particular pain point?
Did you know that current projections indicate augmented reality has the potential to generate over $120 billion in revenue by the end of 2020? That’s a lot of money. Retailers should be chomping at the bits to take advantage of this merchandising opportunity. It’s HUGE but the technical ‘foot-in-the-door’ is still high.
Augmented reality actually serves a purpose. It isn’t faddy. It allows retailers to leverage technology to create enhanced experiences with their shoppers.
To me, that’s the golden ticket: enhanced experiences. Enough said.
The data supports the notion, too.
- 40% of shoppers would be willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it through AR
- 61% of shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer AR over ones that don’t
- 71% of shoppers would shop at a retailer more often if they offered AR
Content tells your product’s story.
If you sell in a multichannel, eCommerce atmosphere – you are fully aware of the limited opportunities to market through content. We have to do the most with what we have at our disposal. It at all started with backend keywords; the easiest way to ensure your products were discoverable.
Then we started having front-end content, which comes in all shapes and sizes: length descriptions, paragraphs, bullet points and titles. This sprung the entire vertical of SEO as each channel utilized content in specific ways to advance their algorithm and rankings. Then merchandisers started to realize that hero shots – yeah, not going to cut it.
Images originally were being used to ‘show’ you what a product looked like. Now, images are literally the backbone of your story.
There is limited space for images. Amazon, for example, allows 7 image “slots” to be visualized on the product detail page (side note: if you aren’t using every single one of these slots – you need to reach out to us. We can help you out.). You have to maximize your merchandising opportunities as much as possible to compete! It’s so important to realize this.
Augmented reality is the next chapter.
The root of AR is layering. What does that mean you might ask? Simple put – it’s making something (which isn’t really there) there through some sort of display (your phone, some AR glasses or a monitor of some sort). You can ‘augment’ your reality by utilizing AR.
Augmented reality is not the same as virtual reality. Virtual reality is equally as cool – but for this article, we’re going to stick to AR.
Augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone. Examples of augmented reality experiences include Snapchat lenses and the game Pokemon Go. Virtual reality (VR) implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. – Franklin Institute
AR is less immersive and that’s okay. It might serve as the bridge needed to get to full-on VR.
Brick-and-mortar should continue to take full advantage of AR.
AR could boost retail sales and bring technology to the forefront of the shopping experience. Some stores have already started implementing AR.
Let me paint some scenarios:
What if… you walked into Whole Foods and you had literally no idea the weekly sales (… how could you miss them, amirite?). Anyways, say you are walking down the bread isle and you opened up your Whole Foods app and were able to point directly at the bread isle and see a running list of virtual coupons directly added to the store shelves (only accessible through your phone).
What if… you were at Best Buy and were shopping for televisions. Sure, the stores are usually on top of throwing up whatever movie (at their suggested display setting, of course) to show you what the display looks like. However, what if you opened the Best Buy app and were able to lock into the display size (on the wall) through your phone and see what your favorite Game of Thrones show looked like? (still waiting for the last season, HBO!)
Think of all the different ways a physical store could add this technology and take full advantage of the super computers already in shopper’s pockets.
eCommerce channels are already on it.
Augmented reality is already being deployed on many fronts.Amazon already has some AR baked into the mobile app. The IKEA app for example all boasts some crazy cool technology in regards to AR. Wayfair also added a layer of AR to their shopping experiences. Seriously, how cool is this?!
Leveraging augmented reality, the Wayfair app allows shoppers to transform their homes into virtual showrooms, allowing them to see their favorite products up close and at every angle – all in their very own space,” said Steve Conine, co-founder and co-chairman, Wayfair, in statement about the AR feature’s release.
Sure, furniture makes a little more sense for this technology (for now). The same could be said for all potential purchases which come at a higher ticket.
Augmented reality has the power to address problems (before they even occur). It’s pure mitigation with a layer of luxury. It’s technology that actually helps. It puts the product right in front of the shopper.
AR gives permission to allow the consumer to feel and evaluate the product personally before a full commitment.
Visualizing purchases before they occur (literally).
It’s just a matter of time before tools become more readily available. As the demand for this layer of enhanced content rises, more pressure will be put on channels to produce the content. The cost of the content will increase which will lead to channels not having the ability to produce this content for brands. Brands are going to get impatient and add pressure which will create an entire market of 3P software providers. Think about Marxent but for everyone.
Remember when professional product photography was really only for the ‘big brands’? When suppliers didn’t have as easy of access to the quality of cameras and editing software as big studios? Time definitely fixed that. The market adjusted for sure. Now you can shoot product photography from your cell phone (… if you want).
So, what do you think?
Do you believe AR has the chance to truly impact eCommerce? We do. We feel like it’s just getting started. Drop us a line or leave a comment below.