When we look at the trends that are shaping ecommerce experiences, it’s hard to miss the buzz around Augmented Reality in short AR. This technology has been around for a while and games like Pokemon Go has taken AR to the masses. Recent acquisitions in the tech space clearly denote a shift towards AR.

Apple’s acquisition of Metaio, Magic Leap’s funding from Google and Alibaba developing their own AR platform are clear signs of Augmented reality slowly spreading its wings. To be fair, every major online retailer is trying to bridge the gap between a physical shopping experience vs. the online shopping experience. Hence the search for technologies like Augmented and Virtual reality which helps close this gap is preferred.

Going online was a challenging task couple of decades back, now converting those online visitors is the real challenge. When retailers pick up Augmented reality as the next frontier of user experience, it will be better to question themselves in some of the fundamental factors.

Does your product really require an AR experience?

Online retailers sell a variety of products, and not all products need an AR experience. Unless the AR experience bridges the gap between a potential customer buying offline vs. online, building an AR suite is entirely unnecessary.

For example, take a look at the Augmented reality buying experience from Lenskart. This clears the doubt on how a glass would look on the customers face.

Do we have a personalization factor?

The basic idea behind an AR experience is the personalization component in your product. Will the customer purchase if there is a personalization element to it. If the answer is yes, then you can surely look towards building an AR experience.

For example, customers looking out for beauty products pick a very personalized combination which suits them better. Sephora, a French beauty products brand created a virtual assistant through which customers can leverage the AR experience to build their own blend of beauty products

Does it bridge the gap between an In-store vs. Online experience?

The best example to explain this would be the Place app from IKEA. Buying furniture for an existing home includes a lot of measuring and size constraints. IKEA bridged this gap with an app based on Apple’s AR kit. Customers can now check if the furniture really fits in their homes and buy it directly. It is a win-win for both customers and IKEA

Investment in technology vs. ROI?

Augmented reality experiences are slowly gaining momentum in the tech space and building these apps are becoming a lot easier compared to the technology that was available 3 years ago. Apple’s AR Kit and Androids ARCore offer a good starting point in building these apps. While we do a good heads up in technology its the retailers who should make the ultimate decision to ensure if the AR experience is novel, scalable and helps in boosting their revenues. Research has suggested that consumers are ready to pay 33% more for an AR experience.

Also, some of these AR SDK’s are now combined with neural network and deep learning algorithms to get some out of the world experiences.

Is Augmented Reality only for Online?

If we believe that all the hype around AR is only for shopping online, then we have clearly not understood the real power behind this technology. Retailers, especially in the fashion space, have used AR inside their store to bring in a differentiated experience compared to their competitors. 

The future of Augmented reality is very bright and practical with many technological advancements. It is upto the merchants to figure out the best experience and thrill their customers.

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