Before AR, shoppers had two options: they could go to a physical store, or order online and hope for the best.
Return policies were heavily used as many found the product didn’t live up to their expectations. The fit was off, the color wasn’t right, or it just looked different in real life.
Now, imagine a world where e-commerce is enabled by AR.
Users enjoy the ultimate “try before you buy” from their comfort of their own home. As long as they have their phone, shoppers can envision themselves wearing a new pair of jeans, trying on a new shade of lipstick, or adding a new ottoman to their living room. AR delivers virtual dressing rooms and showrooms to the user, wherever they’re located and whenever they’re ready to shop.
It may sound futuristic, but that vision of e-commerce is now upon us.
With the release of Apple’s iOS 11 this fall, AR is available to anyone who has an iPhone 6 and above. As Apple’s SVP of Software engineering Craig Federighi said, “With iOS 11, we’re delivering the biggest AR platform in the world.”
Here are three ways Apple’s ARKit will revolutionize e-commerce.
1. Fewer returns
Internet Retailer estimates that 30 percent of apparel bought online is returned. AR should bring that number way down.
Returns aren’t the only cost of e-commerce, either. Sure, shoppers get their money back, but there’s still a cost in overall customer satisfaction, as they have to deal with the hassle of returns, and find themselves questioning whether next time, they’ll experience a similar disappointment. Over time, these subpar experiences slowly chip away at customer loyalty.
With AR, customer confidence will increase as products meet expectations, and overall customer satisfaction will rise.
2. Bigger checkouts
AR will bring other, unexpected benefits to e-commerce, like the ability to charge more.
40 percent of shoppers said they would pay more for a product if they could test it with AR first, according to a study by Retail Perceptions.
AR can increase sales for other products, too. Instead of simply offering the shopper similar items based on their previous purchases, users can virtually “try” them on right then and there. They might layer a necklace over their new dress, or consider how a coffee table might look next to their new sofa.
3. An app renaissance
As responsive websites have become the norm, standalone apps have become less important for online retailers. But now, thanks to the capabilities of AR, there will be a new use case for apps, bringing them back into the fold.
With ARKit, app developers can offer something unique to shoppers on their app. They can try products on using the app, or unlock special deals in-store. Plus, having an app on a person’s iPhone gives brands another opportunity to further enmesh themselves in their consumers’ lives.
If done right, AR will solve many problems for e-commerce, and bring new benefits.
Our next post will take a look at how e-commerce brands are already changing the game with ARKit.
Michael Quoc is the founder & CEO of Dealspotr, an open shopping platform bringing together up-and-coming brands, influencers, and savvy shoppers around today’s best deals. He was previously the Director of Product Management for Yahoo’s media lab, spearheading the launch of several innovative live video and mobile social networking services. Michael has been awarded nine patents relating to mobile and social network applications and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.