Yes, one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in the world will implement augmented reality in everyday online shopping. The company announced that soon all the merchants ( and there are 600 K merchants on Shopify) selling bags, handmade vases or laptops will be able to show their goods in a 3D mode thanks to the augmented reality shopping possibilities.
What does it mean? Let’s imagine that your cousin John wants to buy a bag for his beloved mom who lives abroad. With AR he will be able to see the bag he is about to buy in detail, view it from all the angles. He will be able to place it on the floor or on the table and weigh down all the pros and cons.
Augmented reality shopping means that every Internet user is your potential client.
But it feels like that the majority of modern buyers still can’t figure out why AR-based shopping is important for the evolution of e-commerce. Why bother with augmented and virtual reality and all these 3D models if you can see all the goods on the website? However, it’s not the first time in history when buyers don’t know that they need something.
They didn’t know that they needed cars when they had horses (thank you, mister Benz for cars). They were not sure if laptops with fruits are better than all the other laptops ( thank you, mister Jobs for my Mac) and why on earth somebody has to pay to watch series online instead of going to the movies ( thank you, mister Hastings for Netflix). Now nobody doubts that watching a series on Netflix on your favorite Mac is much more comfortable than riding a horse.
SO WHY IS SHOPIFY GOING AUGMENTED?
Shopify is in the race, it is competing with other e-commerce platforms for the attention and loyalty of merchants and customers. After all, customers deserve realistic visualization of goods, personalized and unique experience, and positive emotions. We all look for emotions when we buy things. People are buying more and more online every year, and they want to make sure the things they are buying are the things they see on websites and in catalogs. Visualization of goods with the help of AR will mean that buyers will at least avoid negative emotions because of " that's not how it looked on the website!" And will be entertained a bit.
That’s when 3D modeling comes in hand: instead of a bunch of photos, a client sees and experiences 3D models of goods. 3D modeling is 100% realistic, natural to a human eye and a human brain, and it’s much more engaging. Engagement is the bonus companies receive when they decide to build an augmented reality app. And augmented reality app cost is ridiculous compared to the degree of customer engagement.
So Shopify is getting augmented because it will increase customer engagement.
Forbes authors think that engagement means that you are no longer thinking about the monetary value your product or service can bring, you are thinking about the comfort of your customers, the long-term meaningful communication with them. And that it's critical for each company to engage those elusive customers.
When we say "engagement" today we mean something deeper than scrolling a website and picking the time of the delivery. AR e-commerce solutions are actually about engagement rather than instant profit.
Instead of looking at the sofa on the website, a potential client just places it in his room. In augmented reality mode, of course. It’s a merge of offline and online experience, it’s an active dialogue and emotional interaction. That’s what can make a company stand out from the crowd.
3D MODELS VS 2D PHOTOS
3D models are just true, they allow users to see products as they are: in real size, in real colors with real details. Maybe even with some flaws, but who is perfect anyway?
The core difference between 3D models and 2D photos is the ability to locate them in a real environment. 3D models of shoes are free to wear, TV sets, vases can be easily placed inside the existing environment which means the potential customer doesn’t have to test his/her poor imagination.
Shopify wants its customers to see all the goods in 3D which is natural for the human brain.
For a human brain seeing photos in 2D is definitely not enough because our brain feels the limit of this type of images almost instantly. Think about it: our brain must be suspicious about 2D photos on the website: it must be some mockery, isn’t it? After all, we have thousands of mechanisms and tricks that let us perceive objects as tridimensional. In AR it is easy to trick the brain giving it the sense of reality and trust.
With augmented reality in e-commerce shopping becomes tangible and experiential.
This is the case of a virtual reality store from Allo, the app created by a AR/VR Studio, an electronics retailer in which customers can see all the home appliances in real size, interact with them, and, what’s more important, put them in the real environment.
Thinking about buying a multi-cooker? Place it on your table it, look at it in detail. Open it after all!
REACHING GLOBAL TARGET AUDIENCE WITH AR APPLICATIONS?
Shopify, as any e-commerce platform, aims to reach the global target audience. That’s actually one of the key prerogatives of online stores. Reaching more customers in more countries speaking more languages using realistic 3D models of goods rather than weird 2D photos with descriptions on the website.
Reaching global target audience is another benefit of AR shopping experience.
With AR applications for e-commerce, anyone with a smartphone is your customer. AR is universal, it’s 100% visual which means the customer can speak Portuguese and he still will be able to assess the product you are selling.
AR-based shopping experience is fully personalized. It means that you can reach each customer in the environment that is perfect for him/her. Comfortable setting for shopping is what your customers are dreaming about. Nothing is more comfortable than their home. More than that, augmented reality production is now affordable to the majority of companies.
AR WITHOUT THE NEED TO DOWNLOAD AN APP
One of the top reasons why companies deny AR solutions for e-commerce is the reluctance of customers to download another app. We all have like 20-40 apps installed on our iPhones, and instead of managing our time, these apps mostly irritate us.
When was the last time you used that application for learning French verbs?
You won't need mobile applications to see objects in AR very soon. And you will be able to see 3D models of all the products as they are. It’s because a new format called USDZ announced by Apple during the latest conference.
This little sign near the images will mean that the object can be unlocked in AR for all iOS12 users.
USDZ is the container that holds a number of files and the tools to unlock them. And it marks the new era of shopping.
AUGMENTED REALITY & SOCIAL MEDIA
That’s not the only reason why e-commerce platforms and online stores are going augmented. Forbes council defines AR integration through social media as the MARKETING TREND #1 for e-commerce 2018.
AR will soon be integrated into social networks, that is the plan of Facebook at least. So it's expected that more and more brands will start using AR to communicate with customers on a deeper level. For instance, brands can offer to try makeup with the help of AR filters. Today Estee Lauder offers customers to pick a lipstick via Facebook chat with the help of AR filter.
You can go further: maybe soon your branded AR content will be launched at the special location. In other words, it’s possible to overlay digital information at the specific place and during a specific time using global obsession with social networks.
IN THE END, IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT ROI.
AR development cost may seem like an obstacle for many online and offline stores. Few companies make the results of their AR/VR marketing campaigns public. Even fewer companies will speak about sales statistics. Yet these 10 cases prove that a good AR application, like the one created by L’Oreal, can lead to 20 mln downloads.
For retailers the ROI of augmented reality applications for e-commerce is enormous: it’s an ultimate way to save on the maintenance of physical stores and the salary to hundreds of workers. You see, it’s still more affordable to build augmented reality app than to open a dozen brick-and-mortar stores. And your customers will actually see the products as they are thanks to the realistic 3D modeling.
All in all, augmented reality in e-commerce is not only about the comfort of buyers, engagement or ROI. It's also about style, a new approach to the solution of the old problems. It's all about THE innovations.
Because the future of shopping is virtual and augmented whether you want it or not.