An Altered Landscape for Shopping
How will you look wearing that lipstick you've been watching reviews of? What shade will go well with your skin tone? What will your living room look like with that couch? What size will your television screen be?
The retail industry has experienced unprecedented changes in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shopping experiences have evolved from being physical-first to being virtual-first for consumers. To make the experience as immersive as possible for consumers, brands have jumped on board. Although consumers appreciated the convenience of shopping online, the shortcomings of virtual stores became apparent. This led to brands adopting different technologies to help them deliver the in-store experience online. One of the powerful tools that help do this well is Augmented Reality (AR) which, in addition to reducing e-commerce limitations, enhances the online shopping journey by providing detailed product descriptions. AR aids this process by giving one a glimpse of how the product will look when placed in their own setup. AR renders endless possibilities and provides room for brands to showcase their offering creatively.
AR has increasingly received a positive response from consumers. The ease of shopping virtually has created a space for more AR tech development. According to a study by Deloitte, 94 percent of the customers are expected to use AR for shopping the same way they did in 2021, this year as well. Brands that offer AR experiences are 41% more likely to be considered by consumers. According to another study conducted by Alter Agents, Snapchat's augmented reality is 1.7x more immersive than any other platform. By innovating and providing a more immersive experience to consumers, tech developers are increasing opportunities for brands to engage with consumers.
The Online Mimics the Offline!
Retail trends such as social commerce are also accelerating due to social media's popularity. Social commerce is the ability to sell products and services directly through social media.
Accenture estimates that the global social commerce market will grow two-and-a-half times by 2025 compared to now, from $492 billion to $1.2 trillion, with India's market growing at a 59 percent compound annual growth rate to $17 billion in gross merchandise value.
Due to the potential risks associated with online shopping, consumers are heavily influenced by social reviews and feedback, creating a culture of social product unboxing (videos of consumers unboxing their new purchases), scrutiny, and live peer reviews. Brands are partnering with influencers and utilizing AR technology to drive a social commerce narrative from discovery to conversion since potential buyers are more likely to trust those who seem like regular people rather than the brand itself.
AR is Here to Aid People’s Purchase Decisions through Real-Time Try-Ons
Snap's Shopping Lens technology combines the scale and efficiency of commerce catalogs with the personalization and performance of AR try-ons and product visualization. Further, creating an immersive AR experience that presents multiple products from a catalog through one lens. For example, Snapchat's wrist-tracking technology for jewelry and watchmakers allowed buyers to try on bracelets and watches. Through Catalog-Powered AR Lenses, brands can obtain real-time results in the form of consumer feedback and the popularity of their products and services in real-time.
In the end, social commerce upgraded with augmented reality will become the future standard for both large retailers as well as niche brands seeking to differentiate themselves and engage with consumers. Consequently, the AR capabilities will make it possible for them to mimic in-store experiences as well as enhance the post-purchase experience with guided assistance for product assembly, troubleshooting, simple repairs, etc. Without a doubt using AR in social commerce is a savvy business move that companies like Lacoste, MAC Cosmetics, Champs Sports, Dior, Gucci, and others have already implemented with remarkable results