Augmented Reality, New Tech and Future Ecommerce
Ecommerce merchants can’t simply stand still in the heady world of online shopping. As regretful as it might be to all of us, you can’t just source products, sell them, and take home a profit. Instead, eCommerce is much more complicated than that. And in 2022, it involves augmented reality and different kinds of new tech.
We get: Maybe you never thought you’d have to grapple with augmented reality as a merchant. But more and more customers want a complete in-store shopping experience online – and augmented reality can provide this.
In our article, we’ll be looking at what augmented reality means for eCommerce in 2022. We’ll also be taking a look at how you can adopt it, and we’ll also be exploring other new tech trends you need to be aware of.
Augmented Reality Explained
Augmented reality seeks to augment the real, physical world in the comfort of an individual shopper’s handheld device.
It can recreate a 3D model of – for example – a sofa in someone’s living room. This allows the shopper to see exactly how the sofa will look as if they were admiring it in front of their television right there and then, and it allows them to make a better, more informed decision in regards to this product.
And while augmented reality is similar to virtual reality, it isn’t quite as immersive, but neither does it require all kinds of extra equipment and kit, such as a headset. Instead, the end-user needs a smartphone.
How Augmented Reality Works in eCommerce?
As we’ve just seen, augmented reality gives your customers the chance to preview products on their smartphones. Despite not being inside a brick-and-mortar store, they can still get an up-close, 3D view of a product that helps them decide whether or not this item is right for them.
In other words, augmented reality helps to make an online shopping experience feel a bit more like a traditional shopping experience.
Here are a few ways you can use augmented reality in your online store:
A Virtual Try-On
Imagine walking into a clothes store, purchasing an item of clothing, and exiting without having tried it on first?
Disaster. You get home – and realize it’s just not you at all. This happens far too often when it comes to online shopping. But augmented reality can a) boost conversion rates among shoppers who are otherwise hesitant to make a purchase because they haven’t been able to try something on and b) decrease returns. And it does this by giving the customer the chance to “virtually” try something on. Whether you’re selling glasses, makeup, sneakers, or jackets, augmented reality can help your customers understand what they’re buying, and how it will work for them.
A virtual try-on adds to the online shopping experience, one that should always be more than just the transaction. It makes online shopping more realistic, more immersive, and can make or break a sale.
You can’t try on a sofa – but you can try to imagine what it would look like in your living room.
“Try to imagine” is what customers who are shopping online have been doing for years. Yet it’s difficult to truly know what a sofa will look like in our living room (or what anything will look like in our home) when we’re just browsing online. Preview placement overcomes this obstacle a tad by giving your customers the chance to see what a product will look like in their own homes. Like a virtual try-on, a preview placement can boost conversions, decrease returns, and it can also help to reduce the number of negative reviews written by customers who were expecting something different.
The overall idea of preview placement is that customers can better understand what sizes and colors to go for before making a purchase.
Social Media Filters
Wouldn’t it be amazing if your customers could put themselves in your marketing?
It sounds like a crazy concept, but it’s working wonders for eCommerce brands who want to build better content and attract more customers. A social media filter (which can be applied on social media platforms like Snapchat and Tik Tok) gives your customers the chance to “wear” an item of clothing, see how they look – and share it with their friends, as well as on your social platforms. This type of marketing is super fun, it’s engaging, and it can also help a customer decide whether or not an item is right for them.
Essentially, if an item looks good on them on the filter, they’re far likelier to buy it. This not only boosts conversions but also increases your brand engagement and following across social media whenever the customer shares their post.
Interactive User Manuals
Do people usually read user manuals?
Maybe they read a small part of them, or maybe they just skim through it, missing key parts out. Either way, user manuals are generally long and monotonous – but most of the time, they’re essential. And unless a customer reads them through, they won’t get the most out of your product. Worse still, perhaps they’ll even ask for a refund because something seems too complicated. Augmented reality has revolutionized the user manual, making it more interactive, more engaging, and therefore not only more useful but also more usable.
For instance, a customer can download an augmented reality manual app, and point it at the product in order to scan it, before the app gives them pointers on what to do next, using a combination of animations, text, and sounds to make the whole thing more fun. The general idea is that you create an AR manual app that shows people how to use your product, helping them overcome any common obstacles and getting so acquainted with it that they can’t help but love it. And when we know how something functions, we’re far likelier to get the most out of it. This reduces returns and increases customer lifetime value.
Pro tip: Implementing augmented reality doesn’t have to break the bank. But in case you have concerns about your budget, you can always explore startup loans as a way to cover costs while you scale.
Other New Tech in eCommerce
Augmented reality is helping online sellers overcome a major obstacle by giving their customers the chance to “try on” their items and see how they would look in their homes. But it’s not the only new tech in eCommerce that we’re excited about in 2022 that will help you market your business. Here are some others:
Voice search has been on the rise for a few years now, but it will be even more prevalent in 2022. Indeed, research has shown that three-quarters of US households will have installed a smart speaker in 2025. Voice search means you will need to adapt your content in order to target the right keywords used by your customers who are searching for items on the move.
Another trend that’s been emerging for the last few years is Artificial Intelligence. AI automates and personalizes an individual shopping experience, gathering together data on each shopper so that your store can present to them the best possible product recommendations, content, and overall solutions. By doing all of this, AI shows your customers that you care about them and their needs. It also speeds up the whole process, from browsing to purchase, and it can reduce negative reviews by giving customers more of what they want.
Chatbots work hand-in-hand with AI because they’re driving by it. For instance, an AI-driven chatbot is on-hand to act as a personal assistant of sorts to your customer. They can answer questions, recommend products, help them search for something – and essentially nudge them closer to a conversion. And because the bot is driven by AI, it’s able to learn more about each customer with every conversation. This improves personalization and – again – makes your customer feel welcome and respected.
If you haven’t yet prioritized mobile shopping, now’s the time to do it. Mobile shopping has been impacting local SEO and eCommerce for a few years now, and it’s about to impact it even more in 2022. Pretty soon, smartphones will start outnumbering desktop computers, with Google putting mobile-first indexing as a top priority back in 2020. There’s even a new name for mobile shopping – Mcommerce.
You can use mobile shopping to provide a seamless online shopping experience to your customers, which incorporates multiple channels (omnichannel shopping) and leverages location-based marketing to target the right audiences. Not just that, but you can (and should) tie in your mobile shopping campaigns with augmented reality, which will help to make shopping more immersive and more engaging.
Ecommerce is a rapidly growing industry, and there’s zero time for sellers to sit on their hands. You have to always be looking at ways to retain a competitive edge while at the same time giving your customers the shopping experience they’re looking for.
It’s vitally important that you follow the latest trends and stay on top of the curve when it comes to new tech. With augmented reality, the time to start is now. Use AR to keep building your brand, making your shopping experiences engaging – but also unique.