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How Augmented Reality Is Going to Transform Ecommerce

Amazon and Apple are stepping up their AR efforts. You should be too.
How Augmented Reality Is Going to Transform Ecommerce
Image credit: Shutterstock

Imagine never running out of out coffee at home again. When you wake up, you know exactly how many grounds you should pour in the filter, what the precise water level should be in relation to how many cups you drink on average, and, even, if you will consume more based on the weather. Oh, and when you’re running low, an order is shipped right away without any effort on your part.

With how rapidly augmented reality is growing, that future could be coming sooner than you think.

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According to an overview by CB Insights on the augmented reality and virtual reality industries, VR has received 52 percent of venture capital deals, with AR at 22 percent. Yes, while virtual reality has been the talk of Silicon Valley since deals such as Facebook buying Oculus came about, AR could one day outshine it, with ecommerce being at the forefront.

The changing landscape

While companies have come up with inexpensive VR headsets that work with any smartphone, to invest in a full-on, independent unit is wildly expensive. Don’t get me wrong, VR is on a great growth trajectory, with some predicting 26 percent of Americans will own a headset by 2018, but with AR, the basic foundation -- think Pokémon Go -- has already been tested. It begs the question: why is progress is taking so long? Although development has tilted in favor of VR, this trend is shifting thanks to some major players in ecommerce.

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Welcome to the big leagues

On July 25, Amazon published a patent on Augmented Reality Presentation, giving a hint as to what’s to come from the ecommerce giant. The illustration shows users' "trying on" watches in AR as they shop online. The examples are endless, from scanning a room and having a real-time home decorator analyze what would look best, to being notified of sales as soon as they're available.

Related: How Augmented Reality Will Shape the Future of Ecommerce

Even though Amazon has been early to market, some other major tech giants are entering the race as well. Apple is currently developing its ARKit, an open source platform that allows for developers to build AR products on iPhones and iPads. Additionally, ARToolKit is offering a dev kit for AR as well.

Where the future is headed

According to Global Market Insights, the market for AR products is projected to grow 80 percent to $165 billion by 2024. Given the potential AR holds, that makes sense, especially when factoring in top-dollar industries such as medicine and engineering. However, when it comes to ecommerce, the question becomes: Will this be a fight between Amazon and smaller startups and retailers?

What this boils down to is the point of entry. Quite simply, if I’m able to look around my apartment or office for things to buy and Amazon is the first to have the best system for it, why would I look to anyone else’s online inventory? Digging through different AR apps is going to be a lot different than shopping online regarding retention, which will be a huge factor in defining how successful the experience will be.

Related: 5 VR and AR Startups Ready for Explosive Growth

For smaller businesses to grow their market share in the ecommerce world of AR, they’re going to have to start getting creative with the specific types of solutions they offer. After all, you’re going to be able to bring your product into someone’s home and visualize how it fits into their lifestyle, which is groundbreaking. Luckily for brands and influencers, new tools, including my company Blendars proprietary platform, are emerging, making it easier than ever for organizations to deliver more engaging experiences right to their audiences.