The integration of augmented reality (AR) into e-commerce platforms is revolutionizing the online shopping experience. Augmented reality overlays digital elements onto the real world via smartphones and other devices.
In e-commerce, AR enables shoppers to virtually “try on” clothing and accessories, visualize furniture in a room, and interact with lifelike 3D product models.
According to a report by Gartner, 100 million consumers will shop in AR online and in-store by 2020. The growth is astronomical – there has been an 800% increase in AR shopping apps since 2016.
Retailers and marketplaces like Amazon, IKEA, Sephora, and Wayfair are investing heavily in augmented reality to elevate customer engagement.
This article will dive into how exactly AR technology works in the context of e-commerce, statistics that demonstrate its explosive adoption, and unique use cases and applications across industries.
How Augmented Reality Works in Ecommerce
Augmented reality integrates interactive digital elements into the physical world. In ecommerce, AR enables shoppers to virtually “try on” and interact with products in new immersive ways.
But how exactly does AR work its magic in online shopping? The technology relies on a combination of 3D modeling, smartphone cameras, depth sensors, motion tracking, and spatial mapping.
1. 3D Modeling
AR ecommerce depends on realistic and scalable 3D models of products. These are built using photogrammetry, which constructs 3D models from high-resolution photograph sets taken at various angles. The 3D modelsmimic exact product shape, textures, materials, and physics.
3. Smartphone Cameras
Modern smartphone cameras, with sensors that support computer vision, are essential for AR experiences. The rear-facing cameras scan and recognize the environment. In tandem, front-facing cameras track facial landmarks and expressions.
4. Depth Sensors
Depth sensors like infrared cameras measure distances between objects and surfaces in the camera view. This allows for accurate depth overlays like placing a 3D product model on a table or floor. Lidar sensors found in newer iPhones also create precise spatial maps.
5. Motion Tracking
Motion tracking means the AR system continuously tracks the position and orientation of your phone as you move it. The AR product visualizations are adjusted on-the-fly based on your movements and perspective. ARKit and ARCore use visual-inertial odometry to achieve robust motion tracking.
6. Spatial Mapping
Spatial mapping builds a digital mesh of the physical environment captured by the smartphone cameras. This mesh provides points of reference for placing AR objects, ensuring they interact realistically with the environment. For example, furniture placed with spatial mapping will sit flush on the floor.
Augmented Reality Ecommerce Statistics and Trends 2023
The growth of augmented reality in online shopping over the last few years gives a glimpse into its huge disruptive potential. Here are some revealing stats on the current and future impact of AR in ecommerce:
- 80% of retailers plan to implement AR or VR tools by 2025 according to research by Gartner. Investment is ramping up quickly.
- 61% of shoppers say they prefer retailers that offer AR experiences like virtual try-ons and previews versus static images alone. (Source: Shopify)
- The IKEA Place AR furniture app has been downloaded over 2 million times since launching in 2017. (Source: IKEA)
- 70% of shoppers looking to purchase furniture say AR tools that let them view items in their home increase their confidence to buy online. (Survey by Houzz)
- 61% of shoppers agree that AR apps from retailers help them visualize how furniture, décor, and other products would fit in their actual space before purchasing. (Source: Deloitte Digital)
- Smithers Pira predicts conversion rates can improve by up to 400% using AR virtual try-on technology compared to standard ecommerce sites.
- 30% of shoppers believe AR will heavily influence their purchasing decisions moving forward. (Think with Google Consumer Survey)
- BuildAR reports that shoppers using AR try-on apps spent over 5x more time interacting with products compared to static images.
- Revenue potential from AR shopping apps and experiences is projected to reach $2 billion annually by 2025 in the U.S. (Gartner)
With ROI metrics like these, it is clear that AR adoption in retail will see exponential growth in the next few years. Forward-thinking brands investing early in AR can gain advantage.
Current and Future Applications of AR in Ecommerce
Augmented reality delivers practical value across industries from retail to automotive to real estate. Here are some of the most popular and innovative applications of AR experiences in online shopping.
1. Clothing and Accessories
AR virtual try-on apps are exponentially enhancing fashion and accessory ecommerce. Apps like Drest and Swirl allow customers to visually try on clothing and accessory items including hats, jewelry, watches, and handbags. Seeing pieces layered together on your actual body provides a better representation than product images alone for evaluating fit and coordination. Drest reports a 40% increase in conversion rates with their AR try-on technology.
2. Furniture and Home Décor
AR apps like IKEA Place and Wayfair View are gamechangers for visualizing furniture in your own living space. Using your smartphone camera, you can add 3D models of sofas, armchairs, coffee tables, and beds scaled to fit into your environment. This makes it much easier to assess size, arrangement, and style before making a purchase. Houzz research shows 70% of shoppers are more confident buying furniture online with AR visualization.
Major auto brands like Audi, BMW, and Kia are rolling out AR shopping experiences. Kia’s SnapAR app lets you customize mini 3D model cars with colors, wheels, and accessories for a personalized creation. Volkswagen experimented with an AR app that pinned holographic VW cars onto real streets based on GPS. AR is the perfect tool for virtual test drives and building excitement for new models. Dealers report up to 90% engagement rates with AR content.
Seeing how jewelry looks when worn is critical for making a buying decision. Brands like Ditto allow customers to use face mapping to try on necklaces, earrings, rings, and sunglasses. Jewelry shoppers suggest AR try-ons increase confidence and likelihood to purchase by over 200%. AR also helps showcase small details and craftsmanship of jewelry better than images.
AR beauty apps let you test the hottest makeup items directly on your face using just your smartphone. You can swipe through lip colors, eyeshadow palettes, and foundation shades appearing on your live camera view. Cosmetics brands like L’Oreal andMAC enable virtual “try before you buy” with AR. One study found 74% of women would use AR for makeup shopping.
These are just a few standout examples of AR elevating the retail experience. The possibilities span far beyond ecommerce as well. AR apps are springing up across sectors like travel, healthcare, education, and more. As the technology matures, we’ll see massive adoption of augmented reality across all digital platforms.
The Benefits of Augmented Reality for Ecommerce
Implementing augmented reality experiences in online shopping provides tangible benefits for both retailers and shoppers. Here’s an overview of the top perks:
- Increased conversion rates – Research shows AR try-ons can improve conversions by over 30%. The immersive product interactions motivate purchasing.
- Lower return rates – AR allows customers to select the right product fit, color, size, and configuration prior to buying. This results in fewer returns, saving retailers operational costs.
- Enhanced customer experience – AR makes shopping online more engaging, interactive, and mirrors an in-store experience. This drives loyalty and satisfaction.
- Expanded market reach – With AR, retailers are not limited by geographical store locations. Anyone can shop the AR catalog globally.
- Viral marketing – AR apps and experiences are highly shareable on social media. User-generated posts drive valuable organic promotion.
- Granular analytics – AR apps provide detailed analytics on customer behavior – items viewed, try-on times, features used, and more.
- Environmental sustainability – Lower return rates mean less wasted resources on shipping and restocking. AR enables more eco-friendly ecommerce.
- Convenience – Shoppers can try products from anywhere, anytime using AR. No need to visit a crowded store for the same experience.
- Confidence in purchases – Being able to virtually try something on provides assurance you’re selecting the right product before buying.
- Comparison shopping – AR makes it easy to demo and compare products from different retailers in quick succession.
- Product education – AR provides more nuanced understandings of product scale, configuration, materials, and other attributes.
- Immersive experiences – AR adds an element of magic and surprise to online shopping through futuristic tech.
- Accessibility – Those with mobility challenges can shop AR catalogs without physically visiting stores.
With measurable returns achieved by early AR adopters, expanded rollout across ecommerce is imminent. Retailers who leverage AR now can gain competitive advantage and loyalty. For shoppers, AR unlocks new levels of personalized convenience.
Augmented reality is transforming retail as we know it. Major retailers are racing to implement AR experiences to stay ahead of the curve. While AR commerce is still in its early stages, the statistics and success cases prove that adoption is ramping up quickly.
Within the next 5 years, AR try-ons and previews will likely become expected rather than novel ecommerce features. Forward-thinking brands that leverage emerging tech like AR will gain advantage and loyalty.
For consumers, AR unlocks new omnichannel retail opportunities. The ability to visualize products in-context delivers practical value. Meanwhile, retailers can provide next-level engagement that static images and product descriptions cannot.
As AR technologies and capabilities improve, their application in ecommerce will continue to expand. In the near future, we can expect holographic product experiences, enhanced virtual try-ons, and immersive digital storefronts. The possibilities for augmented reality to transform online shopping are truly boundless.