Is AR/VR the Future of eCommerce?

Rebekah Carter

A New Reality for Online Sales  

Is AR/VR the Future of eCommerce?

Online shopping is one of the most popular activities in the world. In 2019, retail eCommerce sales across the world were amounting to around $3.53 trillion. By 2022, experts predict the market will be worth a whopping $6.4 trillion.  

eCommerce is one of the most resilient solutions for modern sales. When other selling opportunities dwindle, customers turn to the web to make their purchases. During 2020, when the global pandemic struck, eCommerce allowed retailers to keep the lights on. With online shopping, consumers could continue to get the things they needed and contribute to the economy.  

The only downside? Shopping online doesn’t always deliver the same experience as in-person transactions. In a world where customers are looking for amazing experiences, businesses need to find a way to engage their audience, without being face-to-face. AR and VR could be the solution.  

The Role of AR and VR in eCommerce 

eCommerce is one of the few industries that continues to develop at an incredible rate – even despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The arrival of new technology in this space will further support that growth. Retail businesses are seeking new solutions to stay ahead of the curve for their customers. By integrating existing eCommerce stores with immersive, “3dCommerce” AR/VR technologies, retailers can make shopping online more immersive.  

Currently, around 78.65% of consumers abandon their carts online before they make a purchase. They do this because they’re distracted, uncertain, or simply unconvinced that they need to make a purchase. However, with AR and VR, customers can get the experience they need to tip them off the fence. Here are some examples of how eCommerce companies can use extended reality.  

A Greater Insight into the Product 

Today’s consumers are used to conducting plenty of research before a purchase. However, without being in a store, it’s challenging to get a good look at a product or a sense of its quality. With AR and VR, customers don’t have to rely on photos on a product page to get an insight into what they’re buying. You can welcome your audience into a virtual showroom instead.  

Lowe’s Holoroom, for instance, allows customers to visualize home improvement options, giving them a mocked-up version of what their property might look like with their chosen products. The entire experience makes it more likely that customers will feel confident about their purchase. 

Companies could even provide virtual landscapes where customers could experience the features and capabilities of certain products before they buy them. With AR technology, customers have the freedom to place items that they like into their existing surroundings and see what they look like. This leads to better ideas of scale and could help customers to make more informed decisions.  

More Meaningful Interactions 

For many companies, offering an excellent experience is all about simplifying and streamlining the customer journey. Having a VR or AR solution as part of your eCommerce store can reduce some of the issues that customers face when buying products online. Rather than having to take a gamble and potentially send a pair of sunglasses back if they don’t look good, your customers can try the products they like on with AR instead. Companies like Vertebrae make it easy for today’s eCommerce retailers to create AR apps in seconds.  

At the same time, customers can get answers to their questions without having to phone a customer service agent. A virtual reality environment where a customer can test out a product will give them an idea of how that item works, so there’s less confusion when the purchase arrives. Companies could even use an AR or VR application to walk customers through the set-up process for their investment.  

With AR and VR, customers get more immersive experiences, similar to the ones that they would get in a physical store. This means that your audience is more likely to remember your brand for all of the right reasons.  

Reach More Customers 

Finally, AR and VR expand the reach of today’s eCommerce businesses. Just because your company can ship to various parts of the world doesn’t mean that you can afford to open stores and showrooms in every country. With VR and AR, companies cut the costs of having to set up physical locations so that customers can interact with products.  

You could potentially run your entire business online without ever having to invest in a brick and mortar store, which reduces your overheads significantly. At the same time, even if you have a store, your AR and VR solutions ensure that disasters and issues won’t prevent you from continuing to sell.  

With companies like Marxent Labs, businesses can build virtual experiences for their audiences that make it feel as though they’re right there in a showroom. Because everything is digital, you can deliver the experience anywhere, without having to invest in expensive resources.  

The Future of AR and VR in eCommerce 

Currently, the AR and VR market is experiencing rapid growth. By the end of 2020, the landscape will be worth $18.8 billion, which is an increase of 78% from 2019. As the technology for extended reality continues to evolve and opportunities become more accessible, these virtual and augmented moments have the power to transform the way we shop. 

Let’s look at some of the stats: 

  • Between 2020 and 2027, the compound annual growth rate of AR and VR will reach around 21.6%.  
  • The number of AR/VR devices shipping to customers is expected to double to 11 million by 2021 and increase to 43.5 million by 2025.  
  • By 2023, experts believe that 23 million job roles will take advantage of AR or VR in some way.  

Although we’ve already begun to see the impact of AR and VR on the current consumer landscape, we’re only in the early stages. The arrival of new headsets that make shopping with VR more comfortable and the development of new apps will lead to further adoption. On top of that, we’ve got the promise of 5G on the horizon, to reduce the latency involved in creating AR/VR experiences.  

With AR and VR, companies can maximize sales, improve customer experience, and outshine the competition. These technologies could be the future of eCommerce.  

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