The virtual buying and selling world has been evolving consistently since its birth over 25 years ago. As technologies advance, the internet adapts in response. This adaptation dramatically improves online shopping and targets usability vectors such as user-friendliness, function, and the overall buying experience. Ecommerce has significantly benefitted from recent technological strides, including the use of augmented reality, or “AR,” as a sales tactic.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality is a technology that allows us to visualize products, locations, and everyday objects in three-dimensional space layered on top of the real world using computer-generated graphics and video. Take a look at the top types of augmented reality used in ecommerce to get a feel for what may be best for your business:
This type of AR utilizes your camera to mark a QR code or “trigger photo” in your real-world environment as a spot to superimpose your content on top of. These markers can be used to view an object three-dimensionally, prompt a video or link, or any content you would like to attach to it.
This method allows virtual content to be visualized in any place in the real world, without using any markers or triggers. The user can then rotate and reposition the object in any way they would like.
There are multiple types of markerless AR, including:
This makes use of projectors and sensors to cast an image onto a physical surface. Holograms are a great example of projection-based AR.
Location-based AR uses a specific geological location as a trigger. This trigger will display your content virtually.
How is AR beneficial to ecommerce?
The mobile augmented reality market has been skyrocketing over the past few years, quickly giving us insight into how important of a tool AR can truly be. Check out the chart from Statista below for a better understanding of how quickly this technology has taken off, as well as its projected growth.
*Forecasted. (Not enough information just yet, but an educated estimate has been provided.)
But why has this technology grown in scale so astronomically in so little time? Because the possibilities of augmented reality in the virtual shopping world are endless! In recent years, AR has been used to transform the online shopping experience. Clothes and makeup can be tried on virtually using AR. Markerless AR can even be used to see what your possible new couch might look like in your den. Virtual “how-to" lessons or free trials can be demonstrated via AR as well. These functions benefit sales greatly, as anyone is more likely to buy something that they can visualize. It’s often hard to tell online whether or not an item is perfect for your needs. 3D rotation and measuring tools aid greatly in letting the buyer know what exactly they’re getting!
Above: IKEA’s “IKEA Place” app, which lets you envision your potential purchase in real time.
Virtual try-ons and product tests are not only good for sales, but for directly meeting the buyer's expectations. AR is still fairly new to ecommerce, making it a novel experience for many people. Having a new technological experience is exciting, and your audience will enjoy using AR as a tool. Augmented reality is not just useful, but it is interesting as well! Using innovative technology like this can make your audience feel as though they are stepping into the future. Even photo and video filters online can be an excellent AR marketing tool! Think of all of the branded filters that go viral on social media platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram! These filters tend to reach a diverse audience, as, according to Market.us, there are 4.14 billion social media users globally, and one billion of those users access TikTok alone monthly (Sprout Social). Depending on your target market, the use of AR on your website can be more or less beneficial. According to the below Statista data chart, the top three generations interested in augmented reality-supported sales are Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.
QR codes and other marker-based AR can be used in-store or in public spaces to redirect your in-person consumers to exclusive deals, subscriptions, and more. The possibilities of AR in the use of marketing are endless!
Where can I get AR tech? How much will it cost?
As the years go by, AR is becoming increasingly easier to work with. In the most modernized versions, the user is able to make a 3-D AR-compatible graphic with just a few 2-D photos of an object. It isn’t just becoming simpler to use, but more accessible, too! Just as technology is advancing, the number of companies offering augmented reality tech is surging.
AR, however, can be costly, so make sure to check for a solution that will be most budget-effective for you! Project pricing ranges from about $50-$250 an hour across various platforms (BR Softech), with some offering whole-project minimums from no base to $75,000. When it comes to augmented reality, as with any outsourced work, it is important to carefully consider and research all of your options to ensure you are working with the best developers for your project!
Some of the highest-rated AR development companies that our research recommends are:
Best for: larger companies.
Project minimum: $5,000
Average hourly: $25-49
Best for: small-medium companies
Project minimum: None
Average hourly: $50-99
WE/AR Studio (WeAR Studio)
Best for: medium-large companies
Project minimum: $5,000
Average hourly: $50-99
A great source of further information on top AR Development companies is this article that we checked out on Mobile App Daily.
Is AR for me?
Yes! Augmented reality is a game-changing technology that can suit any product. Whether you opt for a virtual trial of the product or use the tool as a means of better marketing your product, AR will excite your crowd. Augmented reality has so many uses beyond the world of ecommerce, and is sure to become an even more integral part of our daily lives in the near future. We recommend doing some research to decide whether AR is a direction in which you'd like to lead your company- there are infinite possibilities on your horizon!