A Guide to Using Augmented Reality for Ecommerce and Retail
Here are the things you should know about breaking into AR for ecommerce.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many consumers see brick-and-mortar retail through a different lens. Augmented reality has quickly become a core element of marketing and retail strategies, as nine out of ten brands prepare to cater to the 3.5 billion users that are projected by 2022.
One of the key benefits of AR is increased user engagement. By allowing users to interact with the ad itself, a successful AR experience can keep users engaged in a way that traditional media can’t. Including AR elements in marketing campaigns can have a myriad of benefits, like stronger memory retention of products or services, longer average dwell times and more chances of the ad being shared with family and friends.
When thinking about what augmented reality platform to choose, it’s important to consider what the goal of your AR strategy is. Do you want to reach more followers? Create an effect that is physically activated at a particular place and time? Sell more by allowing users to virtually try on your products? Whether you choose to pursue an AR campaign through Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, a mobile app or the web, businesses need to efficiently discover consumer patterns to be more agile in the wake of shifting market dynamics.
First and foremost, let’s define reality
Most people don’t understand the distinction between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). First off, both AR and VR offer new, yet very different ways to immerse people in a digital experience and enhance their vision with the help of technology. Each definition below will ultimately help you understand the differences between AR, VR and 3D:
Augmented reality (AR) - merges the real world and the virtual world, and most of the time only requires a smartphone camera or laptop.
Virtual reality (VR) - completely replaces what people see and experience, plus VR requires some sort of headset to be immersed into the virtual world.
3D marketing - adds a 3-dimensional, interactive layer to a regular 2D advertisement, providing advertisers the ability to promote their products using a 3D object which allows customers to engage with it.
Given that augmented reality is a relatively new technology, choosing the AR platform that best fits an organization’s specific needs can be a daunting task for most. It’s important to remember that every augmented reality platform comes with a variety of different benefits, features and use cases. Therefore, each platform has its own way of activating AR content for the end-user.
Top misconceptions around AR
One of the most common misconceptions about AR campaigns is that it is not an effective tool for driving the same results as more traditional campaigns. This is partly because it is still unclear how companies can measure the success of their AR campaign through tools such as analytics. However, even though AR campaigns have been proven to be more profitable when compared with traditional methods of advertising, some brands are still not willing to take the plunge.
Depending on the scope of your project, AR development and execution could cost anywhere from $2,000 to several million dollars. How much you spend on deploying an AR campaign mainly depends on who you choose as your agency partner: a large digital agency or a creative platform. Once you decide on an overall budget for AR, it’s critical for you or your agency partner to accurately measure the overall impact of your campaign.
Since AR campaigns function differently from conventional ads, traditional metrics often fail to capture an accurate picture of the benefits of AR. However, that doesn’t mean that brands have no way of tracking dwell time, engagement rate or the number of times users click on their AR experiences. With augmented reality analytics, companies can gain valuable insights into how their AR campaigns are performing to determine if it’s worth the spend.
What’s achievable today with AR
When people hear about AR, they likely think of Snapchat, yet there are three types of AR platforms available today: social media apps, browser-based AR (WebAR) and native mobile apps. Each of these comes with its own set of benefits and is best suited for different types of AR campaigns based on your needs.
The majority of AR campaigns are still run on social media, on platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, allowing these campaigns to reach the right target audiences on these shareable platforms. In fact, social media AR is so big that it is projected $2.4 billion will be spent on social lens advertising by 2022, generating $15 billion in returns.
It’s important to remember that AR is not just about advertising. Social media platforms are fantastic tools for organic reach and sharing and can result in more followers, better engagement and higher brand recognition. This is because social AR effects are very shareable; if users find the effect fun, they will undoubtedly share it, making this a very powerful tool to maximize brands’ reach. Additionally, social platforms allow you to promote your content, meaning that you can put ad spend behind your filters and maximize your reach even further. This can be targeted to very specific audiences, making them very powerful tools for reaching the right people.
Instagram is also particularly powerful if the goal is to increase your following and expand overall reach.
AR across industries
AR, through its unique ability to increase engagement among users, has been proven to increase conversion rates across multiple industries. When you create your AR campaign, you should be looking for clear, demonstrable measures of success.
Bottom line: Machine learning, AR and VR are the future of retail and ecommerce, especially for brands and organizations wanting to tap into new audiences and markets. AR technologies are rapidly changing our everyday decisions and ultimately, reaping the benefits of AR should be achievable and most importantly, simple and affordable for every brand.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor