[Augmented reality for e-commerce] How to use this technology to boost sales, foster client loyalty, and minimize your return rate

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Let’s suppose you log in to your favorite online optician. 

You go through the catalog, find the sunglasses you like, try them on, and they look so good on you that you decide to buy them.

 “Wait, what? How can you try them on if you’re shopping online? That’s impossible.” 

It may have been impossible a few years back. ;)

But nowadays, online stores have a really powerful tool that bridges the gap created by the screen and can make users feel like they’re actually in a physical store.

We’re talking about augmented reality.

Stay tuned to learn more, because in this post we’ll tell you:

  • What exactly augmented reality is.
  • What it brings to the table and some ideas to implement it into your e-commerce.
  • 8 examples of augmented reality in online shops.

You ready? ;)

👉 What augmented reality is and why it’s useful for online stores 

At this point, you may be thinking of one of a bulky pair of virtual reality glasses that look more like a helmet with an inserted screen.

Well – not quite. That’s pretty far from the case, in fact.

Every cellphone user can now enjoy augmented reality. This is the same technology used by Pokémon Go, the renowned game that was all the rage a few years ago).

Augmented reality can be defined as:

A technology that incorporates superimposed graphic elements with real images.

For example, here’s how Lego uses it in their physical stores:

And this system could become a very powerful tool to up the sales in your e-commerce shop.

As a matter of fact, according to a study by Retail Perceptions, 71% of users would be open to buying more often in an online store with augmented reality.

And some stores have already begun seeing that for themselves. ;) 

✅ Advantages of using augmented reality in your e-commerce

 “This whole augmented reality thing seems too complicated. Is it really worth it?”

Rest assured, it is.

E-commerce shops with augmented reality, also known as a-commerce (which stands for augmented commerce, as it’s starting to be called) is here to stay.

And the reason is simple – implementing this system has endless advantages:

    • It (greatly) improves the customer experience: This technology allows customers to “try on” complements and other clothing items, as well as to check if a piece of furniture they want to buy goes with their room’s décor, to name a few examples.
    • It reduces the return rate: Many items are returned to their original online store because they don’t meet the customer’s expectations. Augmented reality helps keep these mistakes to a minimum.
    • It breeds loyalty: This is shown in the study mentioned above. Besides, its adoption is still rather limited, so it could help you get a step ahead of the competition and position yourself better in the market. 
    • It increases the conversion rate: The same study reached the conclusion that 40% of users would be more willing to purchase a product if they could use augmented reality to “see it”.
    • Longer visits: Users will spend more time on your website if they can “try on” your products instead of just looking through pictures of them. And, as you know, that’s really good for your SEO. ;)

The only disadvantage of this technology is that you’ll most likely have to make a bit of an investment.

But, as you’ve seen, it will pay off in the end.

👉 8 examples of e-commerce shops currently using augmented reality

Is augmented reality applicable to all economic sectors?

The short answer is yes.

The longer (and more realistic) answer is that it works better for some than for others.

Specifically, these are the kinds of online shops that have made the most of augmented reality so far:

    • Fashion: to build a virtual “fitting room”.
    • Beauty and cosmetics: for example, a customer can check if the lipstick she wants goes with her skin tone. 
    • Furniture and decoration

However, that’s not to say that this technology is exclusively for these kinds of shops. 

In fact, any e-commerce can implement it as part of their strategy, as the following examples show.

You just need a little bit of imagination. ;)

✅ 1. Ikea

Returns are a problem that doesn’t just plague online stores. 

The extremely famous Swedish commerce giant noticed that the reason for many of the returns they were getting was that, after setting up one of their items, customers realized that it didn’t match the rest of their furniture.

Reasons may have been, for example, that it was bigger than they expected or because the color didn’t go with the room.

So what did they end up doing?

They printed a physical catalog with augmented reality options. ;)

This allowed their clients to “place” a sofa in the middle of their living room to figure out what it’d look like.

This video explains how the system works and gives you a better idea.

✅ 2. Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott is a popular online jewelry brand.

What they did was implement a fitting room that uses the computer’s webcam so you can see how their products look on you.

They’ve even replicated the earrings’ swing when you shake your head. ;)

The sample video was made by FaceCake, the app’s developer.

✅ 3. Sephora

Remember when we told you about the possibilities that augmented reality brings to online cosmetics shops?

Well, Sephora is one of the brands that have implemented it, and they’ve been quite successful.

What they did was design a phone app that allows you to “try on” their makeup.

✅ 4. Dulux

If you’ve ever refurbished your home, you must know Dulux, one of those paint brands that can be found in almost every hardware store.

What you may not know is that they’ve also created their own augmented reality app: Dulux Visualizer.

When you point your phone toward the wall, the app “paints” it with any color you choose so you can see what it’d look like.

✅ 5. Braun

Here’s good example that shows augmented reality can be applied to any type of e-commerce.

In the case of Braun, a shaving brand, they developed an interface that allows you to “touch” their razors and see them from different angles as if it were a 3-D catalog.

What for?

Very simple: to give their customers the feeling of holding the shaver in their hands.

This way of activating the user’s imagination is a very effective at triggering their desire to buy.

✅ 6. BIC

BIC is another interesting case. 

As it turns out, they don’t use augmented reality to promote their famous pens or any other products from their catalog.

Instead, what they do is offer an extra service for their clients or, more specifically, for their clients’ children.

Thanks to the app they designed, kids can doodle something and “bring it to life”.

You’ll see it more clearly in this video.

Without a doubt, it’s an incredibly unique way of fostering client loyalty, and you could implement it too if your e-commerce has products geared toward children.

But it doesn’t end there.

Imagine, for example, that your clients could download an app that suggested complementary products whenever they pointed their camera at one of your products.

So, for instance, if you sell dresses, you could use augmented reality to show them matching shoes and earrings from your catalog.

✅ 7. Zugara

Zugara is a company devoted to technology solutions with augmented reality.

What they’ve done is design a virtual fitting room that works through the computer’s webcam, allowing their customers to try on any clothing item as if they were facing a mirror.

It also has an interface with buttons that become activated when you “hover” your hand above it.

✅ 8. Multiópticas

We didn’t give you the optician example before “just because”. 

In fact, some stores, including Spain‘s Multiópticas, have already implemented this idea into their website.

In their case, you can see how a particular model of glasses would look on you through your phone or computer’s camera.

Alternatively, the system allows you to upload a photo of yourself to superimpose the glasses onto it.

👉 How to implement augmented reality in your e-commerce

Lastly, let’s see how to apply all this in the real world. ;)

Nowadays, online shop platforms such as PrestaShop and Shopify have a variety of modules and plugins you can use to implement augmented reality into the pictures of your products.

The “problem” is that these modules only offer basic functionality. Users can see the product in three dimensions, but that’s about it.

If you want something more complex, like a virtual fitting room or a game like BIC’s, you’ll have to hire a programmer to do it for you (or, alternatively, buy a “predesigned” version from a developer).

But, as you’ve seen, the system is more than worth it. ;)

👉 Ready to step into the future of e-commerce?

Mora and more e-commerce shops are using this technology.

It’s relatively easy to implement, it doesn’t require clients to have any special devices to use it, and, most importantly:

It bridges the gap between your products and the buyer.

And that’s a very powerful tool in terms of tipping the scales in your favor when it comes to getting users to buy from you instead of your competitors. 

The time has come to get started with augmented reality and to put yourself at the forefront of your sector. ;)