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Can Augmented Reality (AR) take eCommerce to a new level? Here’s how pioneering companies are already doing just that.
Imagine being able to extend the shopping experience into a consumer’s home, virtually, allowing them to experience your products as more than a set of simple 2D images. With augmented reality (AR), this is becoming not only possible, but more and more frequent.
While augmented reality has many possible uses – much like artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) – one of the common goals of retailers leveraging the technology is to merge eCommerce with bricks-and-mortar in a way that gives shoppers even more convenience than ever before. This is largely achieved by developing augmented reality apps that bring the shopping experience into the home, allowing consumers to virtually “try on” products ranging anywhere from clothing to furniture to makeup.
Here are some of the companies best leveraging augmented reality apps and virtual eCommerce in their retail strategies.
Home furnishings is one vertical in which augmented reality makes perfect sense. In the past, shoppers searching for a new sofa or bed would have to measure the space in their physical rooms, take mental consideration of the colour palette and décor, and visualize pieces of furniture in their home. AR technology now allows them to virtually place an item into a live camera view of the space. IKEA is one of the pioneering brands to do this, with its AR app called ‘IKEA Place.’
With ‘IKEA Place,’ consumers shop for furniture as they would on a traditional eCommerce website, but then scan the room using their smartphone’s camera to “place” the item wherever they want to view it in the room. This produces a true-to-scale view of the piece – whether it be a chair, ottoman, bed, dresser or more – right there on the phone’s screen. ‘IKEA Place’ is said to have 98% accuracy in terms of determining whether pieces of furniture will fit in a room as well as portraying correct shades and shadows.
For L’Oréal, augmented reality comes in the form of virtual makeup and hairstyling. ‘Style My Hair’ and ‘Makeup Genius’ are two apps developed by L’Oréal and AR technology company ModiFace. With ‘Style My Hair,’ shoppers can virtually try various hair colours before making the decision to buy (and dye). With ‘Makeup Genius,’ users can try on different shades of lipstick and eyeshadow, watching the makeup stay on their face no matter where they move within the camera’s frame.
A number of beauty brands from Estée Lauder to Sephora have launched their own virtual reality makeup apps with most of them powered by ModiFace. In March 2018, L’Oréal acquired ModiFace so we will likely see much more augmented reality from L’Oréal and its various sub-brands.
Snapchat, the photo-sharing and messaging app, has long been leveraging augmented reality in its various available filters and lenses. Just last month, it announced plans to connect with eCommerce by allowing brands to not only advertise on the platform but include shoppable links to their online catalogues within AR filters.
Two brands included in the launch of this feature are Adidas and Clairol, the latter of which offers an augmented reality-powered hair colour preview similar to that of L’Oréal. Adidas, while not offering a “try on” function like the rest of the brands mentioned thus far, has created a creative lens meant to promote its new Deerupt shoe with a live ‘Shop Now’ link attached.
With all of these individual brands launching into the AR space, even Amazon is integrating augmented reality into its mobile app with ‘AR View.’ Much like ‘IKEA Place,’ ‘AR View’ allows shoppers to see how different home items would appear in their own rooms, from large furniture to smaller appliances and toys. Amazon claims there are thousands of products available on ‘AR View,’ with more added each week.
One of the most important things to consider when approaching an augmented reality strategy is the visuals of your product line. Without amazing 3D imagery, how will consumers be able to virtually place your objects into their homes or on their bodies? Ultimately, the success of each of these brands’ AR strategies comes down to their ability to leverage current technology to create realistic, scaled product photography and video. Luckily, geekspeak has a full-suite photography toolkit that helps our clients do just that.