How AR and VR Are Reshaping the Shopping Experience

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are transforming the shopping experience. From virtual try-on experiences to allowing customers to see how furniture would look in their homes, these technologies are enabling more confident purchases and eliminating the need for returns.

Leading E-commerce and retail brands use AR to deliver immersive product experiences. Learn how to incorporate these cutting-edge innovations into your business.

Virtual Try-On Experiences

Whether they’re shopping for shoes, clothes or makeup, customers want to see how a product fits and looks on them before they buy it. Virtual try-on experiences use augmented reality (AR) to superimpose the product over a customer’s image, making it easy to visualize how it will look on their body. This makes it easier to make a purchase without having to return or exchange a product, saving both time and money for both the brand and its customers.

The success of virtual try-ons has helped retailers reduce their product returns, boost conversion rates and build customer loyalty. For example, Macy’s credits its virtual try-on feature with lowering its return rate to under 2%. Moreover, a majority of people who use AR to interact with products report a significant increase in confidence regarding their purchases.

While VR immerses users in virtual worlds, AR overlays digital elements on the real world using a smartphone camera. Brands like Sephora, IKEA and The North Face are leveraging AR to offer interactive product visualizations for consumers to understand how the products would fit in their homes or landscapes before making a purchase. To develop an AR-based experience, businesses need to have 3D models of their products and have the technology to process and display them in a realistic way. They should also ensure that their platform can integrate the experience with in-store and online platforms for a seamless customer journey.

Interactive Product Demonstrations

For many consumers, a product demo is what they need to feel confident in making a purchasing decision. An interactive display allows customers to test out a product in real-time, answering any questions that may come up. This can help reduce product returns as well as increase brand awareness and engagement.

Retailers are implementing AR and VR to enhance customer experiences online and in-store. Rebecca Minkoff used AR at a Fashion Week show to allow shoppers to “try on” runway styles for themselves, while Sephora uses an app that lets users virtually apply makeup to their faces and see how it looks. IKEA has an AR catalog app that enables customers to place virtual furniture in their living rooms, eliminating the guesswork about how something will fit and look. Meanwhile, Lowe’s Holoroom How-To educates DIY customers with step-by-step tutorials and visualizations.

In addition, retailers can use augmented reality to bring physical products into e-commerce. This can eliminate the need for sales associates to assist customers with product demonstrations, reducing time and labor costs. It also makes it easy for customers to try out a product at home or on the go. However, it is important to avoid introducing technical debt in the development of AR and VR solutions. Choosing quick fixes over well-thought-out design can lead to difficult code that needs maintenance and updates.

Product Instructions

Augmented Reality breathes new life into traditional user manuals and product demonstrations by transforming them into dynamic, interactive experiences. Instead of relying on text and static images, AR guides users through complex tasks with a variety of immersive features, such as 3D models, animations, and interactive step-by-step guides. This hands-on approach reduces the likelihood of errors, boosting comprehension and overall user satisfaction.

Moreover, AR-powered instructions cater to different learning styles by providing audio and visual cues. For example, when a user is troubleshooting an appliance, they can point their device at the machine to access instant information about its components and potential issues. Then, they can follow simple steps to correct the problem in real time without sifting through pages of technical documentation.

In addition, AR-enabled instruction manuals can automatically translate into multiple languages in real-time, enabling businesses to reach a global audience. This eliminates the need to print and distribute paper manuals, significantly reducing production costs and environmental impact.

VR is a more immersive experience that immerses the user in a virtual environment and can be controlled using a headset. Virtual Reality can replicate an existing world or create a new one that is more specialized to the needs of the user, such as a virtual boxing ring for a fan of Mike Tyson. These virtual environments are a key part of the customer journey and can be used to engage consumers throughout pre-sales, purchasing, and post-sales activities.

Virtual Showroom Experiences

Virtual showroom experiences let customers shop for products in lifelike simulations. These immersive environments can be created using AR and VR technologies. Virtual shopping experiences arouse shopper curiosity and motivate them to explore the products. They also boost customer confidence and foster brand loyalty.

Retailers are already adopting virtual showroom experiences. For example, Rebecca Minkoff used AR to allow customers to “try on” fashion shows during New York Fashion Week. The experience was so realistic that customers felt like they were actually modeling the outfits, which boosted sales.

Another retail company, Lowe’s, has a virtual reality experience that lets shoppers visualize furniture in their homes or test drive cars before buying. It has reportedly increased sales by 30%. VR also allows customers to scale furniture before purchasing it, which reduces return rates and saves retailers time and money.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are rapidly transforming the way we work and play. They provide immersive and personalized experiences for consumers, boosting conversions and driving long-term growth for brands. With the right strategy and execution, these emerging technologies can help you build a digital customer experience that will transform your business for years to come.

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