Augmented Reality (AR) has been transforming the realm of mobile shopping by providing an immersive and interactive shopping experience to customers. According to a recent survey by Gartner, it is estimated that by 2023, over 100 million consumers will be using AR for shopping. This has led brands and e-commerce platforms to incorporate AR technology into their mobile apps, enabling customers to visualize products in their environment before making a purchase.
For instance, IKEA, a premier global furniture brand, introduced the IKEA Place app in 2023, which allows customers to virtually place 3D models of furniture in their homes using AR. Similarly, Sephora, a leading cosmetic brand, launched a ‘Try on’ feature in their app using AR technology, enabling customers to try different makeup products virtually before buying.
In the clothing industry, ASOS has taken the leap with ‘See My Fit’, an AR tool that shows how garments look on models of different body types. In the jewellery sector, Tiffany & Co’s ‘Try-On’ app lets customers virtually try on engagement rings. The use of AR in mobile shopping is not just limited to big brands; SMEs are also integrating AR functionality in their apps, realizing the future of e-commerce lies in AR technology.
Mobile shopping has undergone a significant transformation since its conception with the dawn of e-commerce. It evolved from traditional online shopping, primarily done on desktop computers, to a mobile-first approach with the proliferation of smartphones. According to a report by eMarketer, mobile commerce sales reached $2.91 trillion globally in 2023, accounting for 58.9% of all e-commerce sales.
The integration of advanced technologies like AR has revolutionized the shopping experience. Companies are leveraging this technology to offer a more engaging and interactive customer experience.
Amazon, a global e-commerce giant, launched ‘AR View’ in its mobile app allowing consumers to envisage how various products would appear in their space. Home goods retailer, Lowe’s introduced ‘View in Your Space’ feature in their mobile app, enabling customers to see how appliances, furniture, and even paint colors would look in their homes.
In the fashion industry, Gucci’s mobile app lets customers virtually try on shoes using AR, and online eyewear retailer Warby Parker’s app uses AR for virtual glasses try-on. Even SMEs like the eyewear brand, JINS, have introduced AR technology allowing customers to select frames and see how they would look on their face before buying. This digital shift has not only boosted sales but also revolutionized the way customers shop, marking a new era in the ecommerce landscape.
AR is a technology that overlays digital information, such as images, videos, sounds, onto the real world, enhancing the way we interact with our surroundings. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR) that creates an entirely simulated environment, AR uses the existing environment and adds layers of virtual information to it. In the context of shopping, while VR can transport you to a virtual store, AR enables you to visualize how a product might fit into your personal space or look on you, right from the comfort of your home.
In 2023, many brands have further integrated AR into their mobile shopping experiences. Sephora’s Virtual Artist feature, for instance, allows shoppers to try on different makeup products virtually, while IKEA’s Place app lets users visualize how furniture will look in their room before purchasing. Clothing retailer, Zara, has introduced an AR app that displays models wearing selected outfits when a smartphone is held up to a sensor within the store or certain shop windows, providing an interactive and immersive shopping experience.
Snap Inc., popular for its AR capabilities, has extended its technology to brands for creating immersive shopping experiences. For instance, they partnered with American Eagle Outfitters to launch a virtual store that customers could explore and shop from, using Snapchat’s AR features.
There are also innovative AR applications in other retail sectors. Wine app Vivino uses AR to provide instant information about wines just by scanning the label.
These examples indicate how AR has transformed e-commerce, driving greater customer engagement, and potentially increasing sales. Brands using AR can offer a unique and personalized shopping experience to customers, thus setting themselves apart in a competitive e-commerce market.
The augmentation of AR technology in mobile shopping has influenced not only the customer experience but also the operational aspects of e-commerce business. It has reshaped the way customers interact with products and make purchase decisions, making online shopping more intuitive, personalized and interactive. This has led to an increase in customer satisfaction, retention, and reduced return rates.
In 2023, Amazon launched an AR feature, “Room Decorator”, that lets users visualize multiple items of furniture in their space simultaneously. As per a survey conducted by eMarketer, 35% of users who had interacted with this feature were more likely to make a purchase compared to those who didn’t, reflecting the direct impact of AR on purchase decisions.
Another brand, Warby Parker, integrated AR into its app, allowing customers to try on glasses virtually. This resulted in a 25% decrease in returns and exchanges as customers had a clearer idea of how the products would look on them before purchasing.
Furthermore, Shopify introduced AR Quick Look, a feature enabling easy access to AR experiences right from the product page. This led to a significant increase in customer engagement, with the average session length on Shopify’s AR-enhanced product pages being 70% longer than on standard pages.
In the grocery sector, Tesco implemented an AR feature that allows customers to virtually place items in their kitchen to check size and fit before purchasing. This feature was especially appreciated by customers buying bulky items like refrigerators and dishwashers.
These examples underline how AR, by enhancing the ecommerce experience, has become a powerful tool for businesses, leading to increased customer acquisition, retention, and reduced return rates. Brands that integrate AR into their mobile shopping experiences are likely to enjoy a competitive advantage in the ecommerce landscape.
Despite the proven potential of Augmented Reality (AR) in mobile shopping, the adoption and realization of its full capabilities have not been without challenges. These hurdles span technical complexities, user experience concerns, and privacy and data security considerations.
From a technical standpoint, developing seamless, high-quality AR features requires significant expertise and resources. Large-scale development and deployment of AR can be a challenging task, even for tech-savvy ecommerce brands.
Balancing AR capabilities with user experience is another important consideration. While AR promises to enhance the shopping experience, it must be carefully designed to avoid overwhelming users with unnecessary complexity. The goal is to create a user-friendly interface that enhances the shopping process rather than complicating it.
Lastly, with the integration of AR into shopping apps comes the need for robust data security measures. AR-enabled apps often collect and process large volumes of data, raising concerns about how companies handle and protect this information.
To illustrate, consider the case of the online fashion retailer, ASOS. In 2023, they introduced an AR feature that enabled shoppers to see how clothes would look on models of different sizes, significantly reducing the uncertainty around fit and appearance. The addition of this feature led to a 35% drop in return rates within six months of its implementation.
IKEA, the renowned furniture retailer, launched an AR-based app, IKEA Place, which lets customers virtually place furniture in their homes before making a purchase. In 2023, the app reportedly contributed to a 25% increase in online sales, underscoring the transformative potential of AR in ecommerce.
As we look towards the future, augmented reality (AR) is poised to deeply permeate the retail sector, bringing with it transformative changes. Experts predict that by 2025, more than 100 million consumers will shop using AR online and in-store. This indicates a growing acceptance of AR as a shopping aid, enhancing the consumer experience and driving revenue for businesses.
As AR technology continues to improve and become more widely adopted, businesses need to proactively adapt, integrating AR into their mobile shopping platforms to deliver enhanced, personalized, and engaging shopping experiences for consumers.
Augmented reality (AR) has ushered in a new era of mobile shopping, transforming the way consumers interact with products online. It provides an immersive, interactive experience, allowing users to visualize products in their environment or on themselves before making a purchase. This technology has been instrumental in reducing the uncertainty associated with online shopping and has helped boost sales while minimizing returns.
One of the standout examples from 2023 is the Swedish furniture giant, IKEA. The company’s AR app, IKEA Place, lets customers see how furniture and décor items will look in their homes before making a purchase. The app increased the company’s online sales significantly and minimized the return rate of bulky items like furniture.
Snapchat, a popular social media platform, partnered with several brands in 2023 to provide an interactive AR shopping experience. Users can try on clothes, accessories, and makeup using branded AR filters and directly purchase the items from the Snapchat app. This elevated shopping experience resulted in increased sales for the participating brands and opened a new marketing frontier for them.
What we can understand is that, as AR as a technology continues to evolve, it’s expected to play an even more significant role in shaping the future of mobile shopping. Businesses that embrace this technology early on are likely to gain a competitive edge.
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