E-commerce 3.0: between AR & VR and avatars

AR&VR in E-commerce

With AR & VR in E-commerce we have officially entered the phase of E-commerce 3.0: brands have changed the way they propose and sell their products and services, on the other hand the purchasing process by users has completely evolved. Today’s consumer expects to have a real, personalised, multi-channel browsing and buying experience, wherever they are and whenever they want. Therefore, it is crucial to be able to build a very strong and lasting connection with the customer, so that they continue to choose the brand and encourage other users to do so as well.

AR & VR in E-commerce

E-commerce 3.0 is characterized and differentiated from the past by being flexible and highly customisable. It must be able to accompany the user on the path of choice and purchase, recommending products and services that meet the user’s individual needs and make them feel at the center of interest. Every single product or service must be accompanied by photos, videos, reviews and detailed descriptions and, in case of need, the customer must be able to count on a competent and helpful support service, able to resolve any problems or requests in a short time.

Why use AR&VR in E-commerce?

Thanks to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, E-commerce is evolving and transforming into virtual shops that look like the real ones, where online shopping is more and more engaging, able to keep the user on the website, simulating a real shopping experience as if you were in the physical shop. 

AR & VR in E-commerce allow breaking the barrier between physical and virtual space through increasingly immersive mediated reality experiences, which are very useful for consumers. These technologies can change the way reality is perceived by the user and the possible applications are many.  The use of virtual and augmented reality in e-commerce is a differentiating element in the optimisation of the shopping experience, going so far as to make this action a moment of entertainment and fun.  

AR & VR in E-commerce

With augmented and virtual reality, it is not only possible to replace products’ 2D images with 3D models, text, additional information and assistance, but it is also possible to create a real virtual avatar that has the same physical characteristics as the user and can wear clothes as in real life. It is not only in fashion, however, that we see change, but also in different sectors. Augmented reality can make an important contribution to decision-making.

Indeed, this technology allows the user to see objects in different contexts of use before purchase, reducing possible returns and making it easier to choose the product and its characteristics. All this is possible simply by using a smartphone: by pointing the mobile phone’s camera where you want the chosen product to appear, and then view it from different perspectives.

What are the benefits of AR&VR in E-commerce?

The main advantages of AR & VR applied within an E-commerce site are: 

– Improved online shopping and choice experience because it is more interactive, immersive and personalized;

– Faster choice process resulting in more sales in a shorter time frame;

– Online experience as close as possible to the real one with real virtual stores and touch-points;

– More conscious shopping, less margin of error in consumer choices, less number of returns;

– Possibility of simulating the virtual version of the product being worn, such as: clothing, make-up or in one’s own home environment, as in the case of furniture, visualizing even the smallest details from possible different angles.

Why are brands moving closer and closer to AR & VR?

Snapchat has carried out a study called ‘The Future of Shopping’, conducted by Foresight Factory in twelve countries globally, to provide an extensive picture of the shopping landscape at this point in time.  According to the Snapchat report, the use of augmented reality in E-commerce will increase by 2025 and as a consequence it will also directly support sales. From the analysis of the 2021 data, it is predicted that in less than 5 years there will be a 27% increase in the proportion of Generation Z shoppers who will use augmented reality before purchasing a product, leading to a scenario in which almost 3 out of 10 Generation Z will shop using augmented reality.

AR & VR in E-commerce

Specifically, among the main motivations for consumers to use AR & VR in E-commerce is:

– the possibility to see how products might really look (37%)

– seeing them in 360° (34%) and understanding their exact size (34%)

-in the case of furnishings, the possibility of visualizing the products within the chosen environment (28%).

The different brands that integrated AR & VR into their E-commerce had several benefits such as: 

– increasing brand awareness;

– differentiating themselves among competitors;

– perfectly meet the needs of the new generation Z 

– collect more consumer data.

Examples of brands that have integrated AR & VR into their E-commerce

Many brands are giving their space to augmented and virtual reality:

Nike is experimenting with augmented reality by creating ‘Nike Fit’. Nike Fit is a new feature that will be integrated into the brand’s official app which, by scanning your foot, shows you the most suitable size of the shoe you wish to buy. According to Nike, more than 60 percent of people wear shoes of the wrong size.  The company hopes to solve the problem using a combination of computer vision (which recreates an approximate model of reality), scientific data and artificial intelligence algorithms. The process of identifying the right fit will be carried out in augmented reality directly from the smartphone. All with extreme simplicity.

'Nike Fit'

Burberry has launched a new augmented reality shopping tool that allows users to get a better idea of a product’s features before buying it. By searching for the Burberry Black Tb bag or Arthur Check trainers on a smartphone, shoppers will be able to see a digital image of the product at scale in comparison with objects in their own reality. 

AR & VR in E-commerce

Sephora has introduced the ‘live 3D with facial recognition service’ in its ‘Virtual Artist’ app, one of the retail sector’s first experiments in augmented reality. Virtual Artist allows users to upload their own selfie onto the app and “virtually” try out various Sephora products, all by editing the uploaded photograph. The new version, which has been a huge success with the public, allows you to see yourself, as in a mirror, in real time and in motion, observing the effects of cosmetic products from different angles, greatly improving the effectiveness of the tool. Thanks to the development of this new function, Sephora now differentiates itself in the market by being able to show the virtual image in motion and in real time.

Virtual Artist'

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will forever change the way we interact with technologies and the reality in which we are embedded. This is an important process that every company will have to use to keep up with the times.

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