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There is no denying the allure of online shopping. The ability to sift through thousands of items and have them shipped to your home at the touch of a button is easy and convenient. But there’s a reason many people still prefer to shop in-store. According to one Report for 2021 In terms of consumer behavior status, 33% of respondents prefer to shop at physical stores because they enjoy seeing, touching and interacting with real products. The tangible experience of touching the fabric of a couch, holding a handbag, or seeing the scale of a chair in the context of a lost room when shopping online. The offline experience allows for more informed buying decisions.
Compare this to the experience of buying the same item on an e-commerce marketplace. While it may be easier to buy a new rug for the comfort of your living room, the tactile, contextual experience that many enjoyed is lost. The experiential gap between online shopping and in-store shopping is a trade-off that consumers make for the sake of convenience.
Augmented reality (AR) places the digital world into our physical reality. When deployed in the retail shopping experience, this technology reduces friction and bridges the gap between digital and physical experiences by providing consumers with a contextual overlay that they need to make more informed buying decisions, benefiting both themselves and the retailers.
How AR enhances the retail experience
At its core, AR changes our view of our physical world by overlaying computer-generated information over our physical space. This technology is extremely powerful in one ecommerce Contextualizing reality is vitally important, providing consumers with real pragmatic value.
What do I mean by context? Consider that you are interested in buying a new couch. There are many factors to consider when buying new furniture. Will the couch fit my space? Will the color complement the other decor in my room? Will a particular couch configuration work with my space layout? Whether you’re viewing the couch in an actual furniture store or in a painting on an online marketplace, you still have to use your imagination to decide if it’s right for your needs. or not. Both of these experiences lack the most important context consumers are looking for – how will this actually work in my home?
Using AR, online shoppers can select the couch they’re interested in, quickly scan their room with their phone’s camera, and visually “drop” a life-size couch in their room. This photorealism allows them to see how light is dynamically reflected off the cushioned surface of the couch, magnifying the wrinkles of the skin, and getting a realistic feel for how the furniture fits into real life. their economy.
For the first time, immersive AR experiences transcend the physical by providing the context consumers need. They can see the end result of their purchase decision before making a decision – the experience of seeing the couch in the context of their space being transformed – giving them more confidence in their decision.
AR and its effects on consumer psychology
AR didn’t take the market share of the digital pie as we know it today, but instead increased the overall size of the pie. Have 100 millions Today’s consumers shop using AR online and in stores. This powerful technology fundamentally changes consumer psychology in three distinct ways: changing the e-commerce model from a push experience to a pull experience, giving consumers new confidence in their purchases. surname; drive conversions by providing consumers with visual context before making a purchase; and gives consumers a new way to experience in-person shopping.
1. Push vs Pull Experience
Web2 today is push oriented. Each unified website or platform determines the standard consumer experience. Many shopping experiences today begin through traditional advertising – a one-way push from the advertiser through the advertising platform to the consumer, aimed at drawing people to their website or products. .
Interactive AR promotes product discovery, where users can get products and features that work best for them and their lifestyle, instead of the most important product information dictated by the brand and motivate consumers. This gives users a more personalized, richer consumer experience based on their intentions, creating a more emotional connection with the product itself. It also enables brands to better understand user behavior and preferences to create intent-based customer journeys.
Imagine being able to mix and match different products, such as couches, tables, lamps from different brands, and view them in the context of your living room from your phone. You decide which features are most important to you – such as color, shape, size. This frictionless pulling experience puts the power back into the hands of the consumer. It creates more informed shoppers who make better purchasing decisions, while benefiting brands. AR enables a more decentralized experience where consumers have control and the web fits their context.
2. Visual context increases conversions
E-commerce sales continue to increase year by year. In 2021, e-commerce accounts for 19.6% global retail sales. This share is expected to grow to 25% of total retail sales by 2025. While this is an impressive growth story, it still means that nearly 80% of total retail sales take place. at a physical store. And there’s a reason for that; people want to experience the product. In the example of buying a couch, that means touching the fabric, sitting on the cushions to test its comfort and feel for its size – all things you can’t do when you buy one. couch in a traditional 2D online experience. This visual context matters.
AR gives consumers the opportunity to have a richer visual experience while getting the context they need to make more informed decisions. Follow Snap and Deloitte Snap’s Consumer AR Global Report, interacting with products with an AR experience resulted in a 94% higher conversion rate. We found in our own data that using AR increases retail conversion rates by 3.5x. It’s much easier to pay hundreds of dollars or more for a new sofa when you know it fits the style and physical space of your home. With AR, e-commerce shopping feels less of a risk and can increase its share of the total e-retail pie beyond 20%.
3. In-store AR experience
As this frictionless shopping experience becomes more ubiquitous online, consumers will incorporate this online experience into offline decision making. Consider whether you can create a 3D scan of your room using your smartphone’s camera. This will allow you to take your home with you wherever you go. When visiting a brick-and-mortar store, you can use your phone to visually experience how an item will live in your home, even when you’re far away from it.
This allows you to get the touch and feel of a store, and get context on how an item you might touch in the store would actually look and feel in the space. your reality through 3D modeling. The incorporation of AR in offline experiences gives consumers the confidence they want when making big purchasing decisions, even when it happens offline.
This next wave of e-commerce will be led by consumers
In the early days of the Internet, the first digital edition of a magazine was essentially a copy of each page of the magazine, uploaded to a website. Publishers were operating within the limits of what they understood: the 8.5 x 11 inch physical book. Soon, they realized that the technology of the internet – hyperlinks, multimedia, embedded video and more – had given them new freedom to recreate the experience of a physical magazine on the medium. online convenience.
That’s exactly the kind of seismic displacement that this technology will bring to visual exploration. In this new wave of e-commerce technology, consumers are in power. The next generation of consumers are tech-savvy and grew up in the age of selfies and camera technology. For this segment, the camera is essentially their home screen.
Gen Z, the global demographic born between 1996 and 2010, represents approximately 30% of the global population. This population segment is a leading indicator of the position of the digital ecosystem over the next 10 years. And they are asking for AR. 92% of Gen Z consumers want to use AR tools for e-commerce. Consumers – especially those in the younger generation – will rewrite the traditional customer journey and reimagine it with the new capabilities AR presents. It will be up to brands to adapt and adopt this new technology and its long-term value to keep up.
Sravanth Aluru is the CEO of Avataar.
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