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How AR and VR Are Creating Unique Online Shopping Experiences

Online and mobile shopping are becoming the norm for many purchasers. However, depending on the type of product the consumer is seeking, it can be difficult to visualize how an item will look in your home or how a new outfit will fit. One of the main reasons for returns is that a product purchased online failed to meet customer expectations.

Here are some examples of how AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) can be used to boost sales, improve customer experiences and generate loyalty: 

AR – virtually trying out products at home

  • Furniture 

AR brings your products to the potential buyers’ environment. The technique is used to overlay virtual animated objects into real-world surroundings through an AR app on a mobile device. Online furniture retailers using this sort of app enable customers to see how a new piece of furniture will look in their home. Buyers can check how the item will look in different colors and locations. Ikea and Anthropologie both offer apps that enable consumers to virtually place items of furniture in their homes and test different colors and materials.

  • Clothing and cosmetics

Online clothing and beauty product retailers have also started using AR to provide virtual dressing rooms and makeup experiences to customers in the privacy of their own home. Gap’s dressing room app notes the shopper’s body dimensions and then enables the user to try on various items of clothing. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app scans the user’s face, figures out where her lips and eyes are located, and lets her try out a large range of beauty products.

  • Shoes

Many online shoe stores show images and videos of their products from various angles, but shoes are another type of item that buyers prefer to try on. The Converse Sampler app enables customers to virtually try on shoes and see what they look like when worn. Wannaby has launched its Wanna Kicks app, which enables buyers to try on sneakers. The app tracks when users rotate their feet and virtually walk in the shoes, to get a real “feel” of the fit. 

VR – virtually creating new encounters

  • Browsing

To date, most e-commerce retailers have featured their products separately on the website rather than enabling buyers to browse their online stores. Using VR, merchants can set up 360-degree virtual showrooms where customers can browse and buy items, much as they would do in a physical store. 

  • Travel

International vacations can be quite expensive, and potential travellers may hesitate before booking a trip. What if the destination disappoints? Thomas Cook has created 360-degree VR films with experiences from Egypt, Greece, New York and other locations. The potential traveller is able to virtually experience visits to vacation sites in-store or from home in order to opt for the most appealing holiday location.

  • Testing environments

Purchasing a car can be challenging and many potential buyers dread the idea of going from one dealership to another for test drives and sales spiels. Today’s cars are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and most buyers need to be walked through the newest features. VR enables buyers to conduct virtual test drives from home and have a virtual salesperson explain the various services which the vehicle has to offer. 

Ar and VR – the future is now

Goldman Sachs forecasts that the market for AR and VR in retail will reach $1.6 billion by 2025. In 2018, almost 70% of consumers stated that they expected retailers to launch an AR app within six months. AR and VR are exciting technologies, but you need to ask yourself if and how you can use them effectively and affordably for your business.  


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