Customers have unlimited choices in today’s ecommerce market—with hundreds of retailers and thousands of products, shoppers can get overwhelmed. In a world where retail giants, like Amazon and Walmart, possess huge chunks of the market, gone are the days when brands can compete purely on price. As a result, merchants need to find new ways to stand out and differentiate themselves.
New technology is being developed every day to help brands overcome this challenge and provide a differentiated, authentic buying experiences for their customers. Mixed reality environments, specifically augmented and virtual realities, are allowing online retailers to tap into the real-world features to bring the shopping experience to life. It is important that companies find technology that works for their business and products. Here’s a look at how companies are using AR and VR to refresh the customer experience, drive new types of engagement and grow.
Seamless Furniture Shopping Through Virtual Reality
Managing and selling furniture online is a big pain point for retailers—these items are normally a large investment and big decision for customers, so extensive research often comes before a purchase. Target has found an innovative way to break through this challenge by offering two mixed reality based features. Target’s Room Designer and “See It in Your Space” VR feature allows shoppers to pick an item they’re interested in, snap a picture of their room, and test how the piece looks before making the commitment to purchase it. By dragging and twisting the chair, rug, or lamp, shoppers can see exactly how the item would fit within their own home.
Shoppers can use this technology for high-consideration furniture purchases such as a couch or coffee table, as well as for smaller seasonal purchases, for example, to test the size of a Christmas tree to make sure it fits in their home.
Another challenge around online furniture shopping is finding ways for customers to still physically engage with the product. Without getting to experience the size, feel and look customers are often less likely to make a purchase. Country Casual Teak makes this process as close to life-like as possible by adding an additional dimension, augmented reality. Using stereoscopic 360-degree photography and gear such as Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, or Samsung VR, shoppers can enter a whole new world to experience their furniture shopping first-hand.
This elevates the shopping experience beyond simply seeing a 2-dimensional image on a screen by enabling customers to feel like they are in the store. Google Cardboard gives the illusion of browsing at a showroom, providing customers with more touch points to experience the product. Visitors who use the VR experience are twice as likely to buy something than others. For Country Casual Teak, using AR helped drive a 10% average order value increase and 20% increase in revenue through its online site.
Online Bulk Shopping Made Stress Free
Buying in bulk is not only convenient for shoppers—it’s also more cost-effective. However, many shoppers, specifically millennials, are hesitant to take advantage of these benefits because they may not have enough storage space in their home for oversized items.
Boxed, a wholesale ecommerce company, solves this dilemma by using mixed realities. Boxed allows customers to test the dimensions of their shipments to ensure the contents will fit in their home. On their app, Boxed uses augmented reality and the user’s mobile phone camera to virtually place their box on a shelf or in a pantry to test the fit. This innovative use of VR results in more users feeling assured their orders will fit in their home, leading to more purchases and satisfied customers.
Filling the Online Glasses Shopping Gap
For most of us, buying a pair of glasses is a very personal experience. It takes time to find the right style, color, look and feel. Today, most of us still visit a glasses store to get that kind of experience, but some companies are finding ways to help customers get the perfect pair without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Speqs, an Australian optical company developed a mobile app that uses TrueFit face modeling to measure pupillary distance to accurately fit the glasses to your face. The app taps into additional virtual reality to give users all the angles they would normally have in-person with their 180-degree technology, allowing them to see their profile view, an important aspect of the glasses experience. With this technology and engaging experience, shoppers can try on hundreds of glasses in minutes.
While these brands are harnessing and embracing AR and VR in a way that works well for their customers, products and brands, these technologies might not make sense for other retailers to implement into their ecommerce experiences. But for those who do decide to incorporate this tech, the online shopping journey has the opportunity to be elevated, resulting in satisfied and loyal shoppers.
167 of the Top 1000 online retailers in North America use Magento for their e-commerce platform, according to the Top 1000 database.