A lot of the spotlight has gone to Virtual Reality (VR) over the last couple of years, but as the technology improves, Augmented Reality (AR) looks to be the focus for the future. Let’s take a look at how it will impact the e-commerce industry.
Tim Cook himself has said, ‘we believe AR is going to change the way we use technology forever.’ This just goes to show how the big wigs in the world of technology are putting their faith in technology. While VR headsets have been popular over the last few holiday seasons, it would seem that AR is where everyone is headed.
Most people’s introduction to AR technology came from the filters in Snapchat or the wildly popular Pokemon Go. Although many may not have realised at the time, this is what AR is. Placing a virtual image on top of reality with the help of a device such as a mobile phone or tablet. The uses of AR have come much further now, expanding beyond the world of entertainment to more pragmatic fields.
According to research by TechProStudy, 30% of companies plan to adopt AR in the next 3 years. And many have already started. Ikea made big news last year when its app, Ikea Place, was one of the first to incorporate Apple’s ARkit technology into its furniture app. It allows users to see how a specific piece of furniture would look in their own space, before buying it.
Since Ikea Place’s launch, many apps have followed suit. Amazon allows users to see what household items would look like in their homes, and with Dulux’s app, shoppers can try out different paint colours on their existing walls without a single swatch. Furthermore, Lowe’s came out with ‘Measured by Lowe’s’ which allows people to measure their spaces without the need for a measuring tape. This app shows how AR could actually replace physical tools that have been used for centuries, a glimpse of the potential revolution to come.
But AR isn’t just invading the home universe. Beauty apps like Sephora and L’Oreal are also benefiting from the new technology. Much like furniture, beauty has been notoriously difficult to sell online. People like to make sure products look good on them by trying them out in-store. With AR, however, this is no longer a problem. Shoppers can try on different shades of lipstick and eyeshadow and see what looks good on them, without ever having to leave the house.
The use of AR solves the problem that retailers have been facing for a few years now, where customers will practice web-rooming, where they’ll find something online and then go buy it in a physical store. This was because they wanted to make sure was the size and colour they envisioned for their space. This led to high mobile traffic, but low sales volumes. Now with the arrival of AR on smartphone thanks to Google’s ARcore and Apple’s ARkit, mobile shopping goes above what shopping in-store can do, allowing customers to see the items they are considering purchasing in their own spaces before they even press buy.