What Is Augmented Commerce and How Can It Help Boost Sales?

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Imagine the following scenario:

  • You’re looking over your flat when you realise it looks rather empty
  • Hmm, maybe I could use a new sofa in the corner, you think
  • But, because it’s cold and rainy, the prospect of going out to look at furniture is as appealing as stepping on a puddle of water wearing only socks
  • Realising how naïve you’re being, you pull out your phone, browse through a catalogue of furniture, and raise up your phone to see what each piece would look like in your place
  • Satisfied with what you see, you complete the purchase right then and there

That right there—the scenario presented above—is a reality because of augmented commerce paired with an augmented reality eCommerce app.

What Is Augmented Commerce?

In their search for better ways to boost sales, brands usually end up trying all sorts of things, such as AI-powered eCommerce merchandising that places the right products in front of the right people.

And then there’s augmented commerce, which is the next logical step in the world of commerce.

For instance, from having to go to physical locations to see what we wanted to buy, we then received catalogues we could peruse through; from receiving catalogues we could peruse through, we then saw them over a television set; from seeing them over a television set, we then searched through them in a digital format on a desktop; from searching through them in a digital format on a desktop, we then pulled out our phones to search on-the-go; and finally, from pulling out our phones to search on-the-go, we now pull out our phones and visualise exactly what we want to buy as if it were right there.

If you haven’t caught on yet, augmented commerce (aCommerce) refers to commerce that allows consumers to visualise what they want to buy in a real-world environment before making the actual purchase, and it’s all thanks to augmented reality (AR).

As consumers, most of us were introduced to AR through two popular applications:

  • Pokémon Go that allows us to venture in the real world and catch Pokémon
  • Snapchat that uses filters to transform our faces and the environment around us

For the majority, a taste was all it took to get us hooked on AR.

And now, more and more brands are turning to aCommerce as a way to increase customer satisfaction and engagement, which both work to boost sales.

In fact, so many brands are turning to AR to incentivise their users that the aCommerce business model is now a part of many eCommerce strategies, and the global AR market is expected to grow at 80.8% CAGR from 2016 to 2024.

With that in mind, let’s delve in and cover the augmented reality impact on eCommerce.

How the Augmented Reality Shopping Experience Is Boosting Sales

Integrating AR into marketing efforts has proven very effective for those who’ve taken the initiative and done so.

For example, by letting users “see” what their products look like in their own homes with scaled views, brands like IKEA are adding value to the shopping experience.

Likewise, Wayfair, another home goods retailer, is also using AR technology to allow their users to visualise 3D furniture and décor in their homes before they buy.

Whether it’s an end table for a living room, or a nightstand for a bedroom, all you need is a smartphone to see whatever it is you want to buy in the comfort of your own home.

In doing so, not only are IKEA and Wayfair cutting the guesswork out of shopping, but they’re also giving their users the convenience of not having to step outside their home to make a purchase.

And then there’s LEGO, who’s allowing consumers to play with digital versions of its most popular products in real-world scenes through LEGO AR-Studio, an AR app that brings LEGO sets to life.

In this way, LEGO is adding a gamification factor into its products to increase the value they offer, thereby increasing engagement.

Apart from offering entertainment for the home, LEGO’s also giving their in-store shoppers a treat in the form of AR functionality that brings posters and physical display boxes to life, and photo booths that capture stills or videos of shoppers standing next to the AR characters.

Also providing in-store aCommerce experiences is fashion retailer Zara, who replaced window displays and mannequins with models Léa Julian and Fran Summers.

As to the how, if you walked past a Zara store earlier this year and wondered why there was an empty store window, that’s how… sort of.

Technically speaking, they introduced AR experiences that can be activated through their mobile app, which required their users to point their phones at said empty store windows to see the models come to life for seven- to 12-second sequences in what can only be described as a virtual catwalk.

And then there’s CoverGirl, who’s letting their users “apply” lipstick, eyeliner, blush and other beauty products through their online Virtual Makeover tool, eliminating the need to physically try on product after product, which saves you time and spares your skin from clogged pores and dryness.

Final Thoughts

Augmented reality in fashion, cosmetics and pretty much everything else is helping brands boost sales in a couple of ways.

For instance, by allowing consumers to visualise what their products look like in the comfort of their own home, brands like IKEA, Wayfair, Zara and CoverGirl are adding value through the convenience of doing everything at home, including checking out.

Likewise, in-store experiences like that of LEGO and Zara are also adding value, but this time it’s through a “cool” factor that increases engagement and boosts brand loyalty, which is also achieved through LEGO’s gamification.

Whatever they’re doing, the results for these brands are all the same: increased sales and a better bottom line.

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