3D and AR need no longer be limited to retailers’ mobile apps. New technology makes it possible to add these immersive displays to website product pages and other online venues, most notably social media.

Vince Cacace, founder and CEO, Vertebrae, Inc.

Vince Cacace, founder and CEO, Vertebrae, Inc.

Shoppers increasingly turn to their phones to research products, share finds, and redeem coupons. Mobile activity accounts for three-quarters of the online time spent with retail brands, measurement firm Comscore found, and currently more than one in four online transactions take place on mobile devices.  This number is only growing.

In response, merchants are increasing mobile ecommerce spend in hopes of engaging shoppers on the small screen—converting more mobile browsers into buyers. Forrester recently reported that nearly 90% of retailers planned to increase investments in mobile technology in 2018.

3D and AR Arrive in the Mobile Mainstream

One area of focus is Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D for ecommerce, which is more possible now thanks to technical advances, which make it easier than ever for brands and retailers to implement rich 3D and AR experiences across devices and channels.

92% of shoppers chose a 3D and AR-enabled browsing environment over a traditional ecommerce site with still photos and video.

Consumers want to see this technology deployed in the service of better retail experiences that demonstrate how products relate to them personally. AR and 3D ecommerce tools that provide context by helping shoppers gauge fit and style outrank virtual games in importance for shoppers. And 92% of shoppers chose a 3D and AR-enabled browsing environment over a traditional ecommerce site with still photos and video, according to research by Vertebrae.


Native Browsers Deliver Seamless AR Experiences

Merchants may be tempted to showcase their 3D and AR ecommerce innovations in a standalone app, as this was previously the only way to distribute AR content. But integrating 3D and AR experiences directly into the mobile or desktop browsers not only reduces the friction of asking consumers to download an app, it broadens audience exposure and positions the content for wider deployment to social networks and beyond.

Evidence is mounting that apps are reserved for a narrow slice of brand loyalists willing to seek out, download, and use them. Retailers report that 49% of their online traffic originates in mobile browsers, versus just 5% in mobile apps, according to Forrester.

Retailers are starting to recognize that the seamless integration of 3D and AR on product pages and in search results has the biggest potential for broad-based impact. Online emporium Tenth Street Hats saw engagement increase by a whopping 74% for products offering an AR-powered “try it on” feature within product pages designed for the mobile and desktop Web—and crucially, conversion jumped 33%.

Another advantage of designing 3D and AR ecommerce experiences for the mobile and desktop browser is that merchants can repurpose their 3D assets for visibility on other sites where consumers seek content—namely, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.  These leading platforms not only dominate consumers’ attention; they’re AR innovators. Since its inception, Snapchat has led the way with AR filters, lenses, and games, while Facebook recently introduced Spark, an AR development toolkit and bot-delivered brand experiences via Messenger and the Facebook Newsfeed.

A thoughtful immersive commerce strategy will involve 3D and AR content accessible via an online product page as well as social platforms, across devices and channels, making it easier than ever for consumers to research, understand, and choose products that fit into their lives.


The time is ripe for innovative retail brands to invest in immersive commerce—and to make the most of it through implementations that enable seamless experiences across the mobile landscape.

Vertebrae Inc. offers an augmented reality ecommerce and advertising platform designed to enable enables brands and retailers to showcase products and tell stories by using the smartphone camera as a marketing tool.