Augmented Trial: How AR Can Power Contactless Ecommerce
Augmented reality is reshaping the digital customer experience. The opportunity to help consumers visualize how a product could fit into their daily lives has attracted many brands to explore it. Now with AR enabled on mobile devices and the timely roll out of 5G, the barriers to its use are diminishing.
With AR shopping on the rise, e-commerce seeing a 54% growth from the start of COVID and customers wanting a contactless transaction, AR has found a whole new need state in today’s current climate. It can solve for what was missing in e-commerce — how to try before you buy.
Apps that can use the native features of your phone have an advantage when it comes to integrating AR into brand experiences. Web-based AR has its limitations and varies by browser. Many brands have integrated AR into their apps, but getting someone to download it presents a barrier.
Social platforms and publishers have beefed up their AR capabilities as a result, providing the robust AR features an app can provide along with broad reach. Snapchat doubled down on AR, integrating it into their ad offering and lenses, even launching an AR ad creation tool earlier this year. But other platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and most recently TikTok all have found impressive ways to use AR for advertisers.
Here are three key ways AR can facilitate product trial without the need to leave home.
Try It On
AR can help you virtually “try-on” the latest styles.
In the fashion world, some great examples of virtual try-ons include Michael Kors AR Facebook ads and Bollé’s partnership with Instagram which featured their sunglasses. AR can use face tracking to detect the features of the user’s face and position a digital overlay of the product as if wearing it. It can also use a filter effect to let the user see the world through the different lens options. At Incubeta Joystick (shameless plug) we had fun creating a similar web-based version of the virtual try-on in an ad. You can check out here.
In the beauty vertical, there are several compelling brand makeover experiences available and platforms such as YouTube and Pinterest have combined this functionality with the ability to provide inspiration and discovery to a large audience.
Last year, YouTube launched its AR “Beauty Try-On” that works directly in the YouTube app allowing viewers to try-on and shop cosmetic products during makeup tutorial videos. More recently, Pinterest launched its Beauty Shop using their lens visual search technology, where customers can not only sample beauty products, but also buy them.
AR can also help you check out the latest sneaker styles too. Converse launched its app where you can sample Converse sneakers without taking off your shoes. The Nike Fit app combines AR with computer vision, scientific data, artificial intelligence and algorithms to help you find the right shoe fit. A feature that will definitely save you a trip to the store.
AR provides the next best thing to being there.
Okay, so nothing beats an actual test drive, but this Mercedes AR enhanced ad might just be the next best thing (another shameless plug). You can experience being in the driver’s seat or see how it looks in your driveway. But even better than reality, you can change the color of the interior or check out the exterior by spinning it around in 360 degrees. Tapping on hot spots help you learn more about the special features of the car.
No you can’t virtually trial food yet, but there have been all sorts of new ways to provide customers with virtual experiences of restaurants. It wasn’t long before the menu was reimagined, giving customers the ability to explore the offerings on the menu in 3D. After all, a picture’s worth a thousand words and the level of detail that’s possible in 3D imagery is mouth-watering. Speaking of which, you should definitely check out the AR feature in the LA Times of the 21 best burgers in Los Angeles. The experience is so compelling, you’ll want to try them all.
With the recent closures, DoorDash partnered with Snapchat to create a lens to help you imagine you’re back inside popular restaurants. The self-facing camera takes viewers inside the restaurant, while the rear-facing camera provides a virtual tour. To place a food order, they are prompted to download the DoorDash app.
Also worth noting, Google has started to offer AR 3D images in search last year for animals, birds and most recently dinosaurs. For fun, try searching “t-rex” on mobile in Chrome and experience what one looks like right in front of you.
Place It In Your Home
AR can help you see it in situ.
One of the biggest and most popular applications of AR is to virtually see how something would potentially look inside your home. Whether you’re shopping online or in-store, you never know if it’s a good fit until you get it home.
Ikea was one of the early brands to explore AR for this purpose with their Ikea Place app (take a look at their everyday experiments to see what the future might hold). Amazon soon followed with their Amazon View which offered the virtual in-home placement of thousands of household items.
Shopify started offering AR functionality to their merchants, making it accessible to small businesses. The platform uses a web-AR experience and they’ve added support for 3D models which they say have increased conversion rates by up to 250% on product pages.
Online shopping should be convenient. Pictures on a screen can be deceiving and sometimes there isn’t enough information available for consumers to feel confident making a purchase. Augmented reality can solve that gap and make purchasing decisions easier for shoppers who want to know if something will look good (or fit) before ordering it.
No longer a niche novelty, AR has found its purpose and is here to stay.