Augmented reality (AR) is transforming the world of online retailers. This innovative technology blends digital content with the physical environment, allowing shoppers to experience products in new and exciting ways. AR presents a unique opportunity for online sellers to create immersive shopping experiences, engage customers, and gain a competitive edge.
Augmented reality doesn’t just make shopping more fun, but it also helps with research. Shopify discovered that products with VR/AR content had a 94% higher conversion rate. Whether you buy online or visit a store, AR can benefit online sellers a lot.
While AR is still emerging, it offers enormous benefits for e-commerce businesses ready to embrace new technologies. In 2023, AR applications are becoming even more robust and accessible. As consumers seek richer, more interactive online experiences, they gravitate towards retailers utilizing augmented reality. In this article, we’ll explore 7 key advantages AR offers online sellers today and in the near future.
1. Enhancing Shopping with Augmented Reality for Retailers
One major advantage of AR for online sellers is the ability to let customers visualize products in real-world settings before buying. Rather than relying on product photos, customers can see how items would actually look in their own homes. For example, augmented reality allows shoppers to digitally place furniture in a room to check sizing, aesthetics, and arrangement before purchasing. They can see if a couch fits with existing decor, if a table leaves enough room to walk around it, and overall spatial feasibility.
This realistic visualization gives customers far more information upfront, enabling them to make confident purchase decisions and reducing returns, which we will touch on in the upcoming points. AR provides a virtual try-before-you-buy experience that simply cannot be achieved with traditional static product images. All of these features enable businesses to sell more products online.
2. Immersive Retail Experiences with Augmented Reality
Another benefit of AR is the ability to create interactive, engaging shopping experiences that appeal to customers. Augmented reality allows online sellers to showcase products in exciting new ways. For example, AR can bring static product images to life through 3D models customers can manipulate and examine from all angles. Retailers can create digital showrooms with AR, allowing customers to digitally try their products, watch product demos, or view how product colors would look on virtual models.
Instead of passive, one-way communication via photos or videos, AR facilitates interactive product experiences and presentations. This immersive engagement provides product education and builds customer satisfaction and loyalty to brands utilizing augmented reality technology.
3. Make More Informed Purchasing Decisions
A third advantage of AR for online retailers is helping customers make more informed purchasing decisions. With augmented reality, shoppers can better understand a product’s features, scale, and functionality before buying. For example, an AR furniture configurator lets customers view true-to-size 3D models of sofas in their living room, seeing precisely how much space they would occupy. AR tutorials can demonstrate how complex products are assembled or used for cooking, beauty, DIY projects, and more.
By engaging with interactive AR content, customers gain comprehensive product knowledge and clarity to determine if an item fits their needs. This results in smarter purchasing choices, reducing the likelihood of returns or exchanges down the road. AR gives shoppers confidence by providing all the necessary details through an immersive digital experience.
4. Reducing Returns through Augmented Reality
With traditional e-commerce, customers rely on static product photos and descriptions to make purchasing decisions. Often, items do not meet expectations when unboxed. Returns are common when clothing doesn’t fit, when furniture is the wrong size or style for a space, or when products fall short in person. With AR technology, customers can digitally preview products in their actual environment first. They can better judge size, aesthetics, and functionality while virtually interacting with items.
This results in more accurate expectations and fewer surprises or disappointments requiring returns. AR gives online shoppers a close-to-real-world experience that empowers smart buying, saving retailers significant time, resources, and costs associated with returns.
5. Build Brand Awareness and Visibility
Augmented reality provides a cutting-edge way for brands to showcase products that capture customer attention. For example, companies that use 3D configurators that let shoppers virtually interact with their products are more engaging than static images. Brands leveraging AR technology appear innovative, digitally savvy, and consumer-focused in their marketing. This positively shapes brand perception, especially with tech-oriented demographics.
Additionally, AR campaigns that “gamify” shopping by adding interactive or entertainment elements present opportunities for brands’ offerings to go viral on social media. Overall, integrating AR strengthens brands’ online presence, visibility, and reputation for delivering next-gen shopping experiences.
6. AR Marketing Opportunities
Augmented reality can be integrated into digital ads and social media campaigns to create interactive, immersive experiences that educate and engage customers. For example, AR can bring static product images to life through 3D configurators and virtual showrooms, or be used for virtual product demos. According to the Harvard Business Review, customers spend around 50% more time interacting with AR content, and view 7.5 times more products on average, increasing exposure to brands.
Additionally, AR enables a new level of data collection on customer shopping behaviors and preferences. Overall, AR opens up creative marketing possibilities for sellers to increase engagement, conversions, and data collection compared to traditional methods. Embracing AR demonstrates a retailer’s commitment to innovative technologies in serving customers.
7. Keeps Sellers Competitive
A final major advantage of AR for online retailers is keeping their business competitive in the marketplace. Augmented reality technology is quickly emerging in e-commerce, and major retailers like IKEA, are already utilizing it in their sales processes. Customers have come to expect engaging, interactive shopping experiences that go beyond flat product images and descriptions. By integrating AR, sellers ensure their business is keeping pace with market demands, latest trends, and evolving customer expectations.
Providing cutting-edge AR shopping tools helps attract tech-savvy shoppers. Failing to innovate with AR risks a retailer appearing outdated, disconnected from customers, and destined to get left behind by the competition. Overall, AR capability gives sellers a competitive edge that helps ensure long-term survival and growth.
In today’s digital retail environment, augmented reality provides transformative opportunities for online sellers. By enabling immersive shopping experiences, Augmented reality allows retailers to increase sales, foster brand engagement, reduce returns, and stay competitive. As the technology develops further, it will become crucial for sellers to integrate these innovations. Companies that leverage AR will be best positioned for the future of digitally enhanced commerce.
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