New technologies have always impacted commerce and the way we consume. The most telling example is undoubtedly the arrival of e-commerce, which has profoundly changed our lifestyles and, consequently, our consumption patterns. The next significant evolution in commerce is and will be so-called v-commerce.
V-commerce will mix e-commerce and all new technologies such as virtual reality or augmented reality. We will mainly focus on augmented reality and its application for sales and commerce. Before studying the impact of augmented reality in commerce, we must first understand what it is and especially what it is not. Indeed, we often tend to confuse augmented reality and virtual reality notions.
Virtual reality will be a more or less realistic simulation of our world. This will go through the use of virtual reality headsets. Whoever uses this technology will be taken to an artificial world. Thus virtual reality fits perfectly into this concept of v-commerce. Therefore, virtual reality headsets will allow Internet users to form a first opinion on the product they intend to buy. This technology partly addresses one of the most significant barriers to buying online—not being able to touch or test the object before purchase.
Therefore, virtual reality can allow many companies to significantly increase their merchant site’s conversion rate by considerably reducing this first bias. Another major obstacle in realizing the online purchase of an Internet user that can be reduced thanks to the use of virtual reality is that linked to the fear of scams. The fact of setting up a virtual reality system will make it possible to prove the seriousness of the company. As a result, the perceived risk of online deception is significantly reduced. This improves the relationship with its customers and prospects.
Augmented reality will not correspond to creating a virtual world but adding virtual elements to our existence. We will be able to use augmented reality glasses (Google Glass) or, more simply, our smartphones or tablets. We talk about augmented reality because we will add elements to our existence, increasing it.
Today, we can quickly test it with applications on our smartphones. The hugely popular Snapchat app has made augmented reality elements available to users, a form of social augmented reality. We will focus more specifically on augmented reality and commerce in the rest of this article. The theme of virtual reality could be the subject of another article.
Augmented Reality And Its Application For Commerce
Following this distinction between virtual reality (Virtual Reality = VR) and augmented reality (Augmented Reality = AR), let us now look at the possible applications of this technology, augmented reality, for commerce. We will initially focus on augmented reality for e-commerce and then augmented reality for shops/stores.
Augmented Reality For E-Commerce
E-commerce in worldwide has constantly been increasing for many years. The number of merchant sites is also exploding due to the growing simplicity of being able to create an e-commerce site, a reduction in users’ fears of paying and ordering online, and other new web marketing phenomena such as dropshipping.
Faced with this intense and growing competition from e-commerce sites, it is becoming more and more difficult to emerge from this mass of sites. Innovation is most often a solution to this problem. Augmented reality then constitutes an innovative solution to differentiate oneself and thus increase one’s market share.
But Then, How And Why Use Augmented Reality For An E-Commerce Site?
As we saw in the first part of this article, augmented reality can easily be implemented and used with our smartphones and tablets. It is therefore much easier to use for a prospect than virtual reality. The implementation of augmented reality for its e-commerce site will constitute an additional non-mandatory functionality for users. This will improve the relationship with its customers and offer a new experience for customers. Consistently with this perspective of re-enchanting the customer with a new, intriguing, and unique experience for him.
Companies have several choices. Go through elements such as a webcam on a computer or even develop a third-party application that will use the camera of our phones and tablets. These systems now make it possible to test glasses directly on your face or try out a piece of furniture in a room in your home. Therefore, augmented reality is more suitable for consumer goods that require time for reflection from the buyer or commit him to a substantial investment. Augmented reality is also interesting for young targets. Indeed, this target is much more accustomed to using modern technologies and requires this type of innovation.
In addition to the practical aspect represented by augmented reality for testing objects before purchases, they will be able to share this experience (screenshot) to, for example, ask for an opinion before purchase, something which is not uncommon for this very connected—ultimately allowing the company that offers this solution to increase its notoriety with this first form of user recommendation. To make this a little more concrete, we can observe some examples of companies that use this technology.
Examples Of Companies That Have Implemented Augmented Reality For E-Commerce Sites
Discount has integrated augmented reality functionality into the mobile application of its e-commerce site, which, as the video shows, allows users to “test” objects in their homes. We are talking about an increase in sales of 20 and 80% for specific categories of things. The conversion rate is then much higher when people use this consultation option.
Augmented Reality For Shops
Beyond augmented reality applied to e-commerce sites, this technology can also be perfectly adapted and established in stores. Today consumers increasingly see shopping in stores as a chore. Bringing innovation to the store creates a new experience for consumers. This will change this chore into a positive experience, a moment of pleasure. Augmented reality can bring this transformation of a chore into a moment of pleasure. This will correspond to the first form of experiential marketing within a store. The most common example of this technology in a boutique is in the clothing sector.
There are now several brands and shops that offer what can be called virtual fitting rooms. The technology is not done through applications or smartphones but directly via the mirrors in the store. They allowed you to test dozens of outfits in just a few minutes. Often, the signs that offer this type of service in-store have an e-commerce site. They can therefore combine these two points of sale to make conversions. Consumers can consequently test in stores and then order online if all sizes or items are not available in stores.
The fashion sector is also interested in these technologies in stores. Indeed, for all things hairdressing or make-up, these technologies can advise the consumer and reassure him about his purchase. As we can understand, there are many possibilities to make consumers want to come back and buy in-store. It is now up to companies to innovate to create new enjoyable experiences for consumers.
The Limits Of Augmented Reality Applied To Commerce
Although augmented reality has many positive points that we have seen in this article, augmented reality applied to commerce has certain limitations.
The First Is Related To Its Notoriety
Indeed, these technologies today do not have the influence that other marketing/communication solutions can have. Rare are those who have already been able to test augmented reality, even if it is pretty well known among young targets. However, it remains rather discreet in the eyes of the general public. There is a lack of notoriety that brands and companies can quickly fill with communication and web marketing actions.
The Second Big Limit Will Be The Quality And Rendering Of This Technology
Augmented reality and the available solutions can vary greatly depending on the service providers or the people who can develop it internally. Suppose the rendering is not of high quality or is not fluid. In that case, the augmented reality experience can be a disappointment for those who use it even more if the available features are limited.