2016 was a huge year for virtual & augmented reality technology. The fact that Google, Facebook, and Sony are all investing heavily in this space means that this is the direction we're going.
And people want it. Badly.
Just look at the massive success Pokemon GO experienced with augmented reality if you need more proof that people are anxious to incorporate this technology in their life.
It's more than just the “cool” factor that makes augmented and virtual reality extremely desirable to consumers.
As the technology becomes more and more apart of people's lives, they'll start to get used it. Which means they'll start to expect it.
And there are plenty of ways for consumers to eventually use it in a way that is not just cool – it will actually make their lives easier, and better.
Here's how augmented reality will help shape the future of ecommerce:
Meet them where they are.
About two decades ago, Walmart failed to recognize the potential of the internet. As a result, Amazon was able to claim a significant portion of the big box chain’s retail audience.
The VR and AR boom might not be quite as transformational as the dawn of ecommerce, but retailers still can’t afford to ignore this potential shift in technology and consumer demand.
The biggest hurdle customers so often face is determining whether a certain product is right for them. AR offers shoppers the confidence that may motivate purchasing decisions.
Devices can superimpose 3D objects in various spaces, giving customers a chance to interact with digital renderings from the comfort of their own homes.
As more consumers opt for an authentic and enhanced digital shopping experience, retailers of all stripes will have to alter where and how they sell products.
Turn the “augmented” into reality.
It’s not enough to simply use AR in a trivial manner. Retailers must make it a significant component of marketing, sales and IT efforts to ensure it resonates with shoppers.
To do this, retailers have to do more than blindly throw darts at the AR wall; they need to consider the needs of customers and the goals of their companies. Here are some of those considerations:
Offer a useful experience.
For example, a Sephora app employs ModiFace technology to allow users to take a “selfie” and then apply a variety of cosmetic products to their faces. Instead of spending hours debating the merits of eyeliner options in-store, Sephora customers can narrow their choices from home and streamline the shopping process.
Add novelty to retail.
Eyewear retailer Warby Parker, for instance, differentiated itself from competitors by allowing shoppers to try items on before a purchase. The technology hasn't been perfected yet, but virtual shopping offers the same novelty, without any of the costs associated with shipping products to clients.
Allow users to customize.
Users are hungry for this sort of digital customization, whether it be an app that allows them to test out different color combinations or a friendly AI offering clothing suggestions based on purchase history.
Shoppers are anxious for the breakthrough that will finally remove uncertainty from the buying process. And AR has the potential to do just that, but only if retailers work to bring the technology into the real world.
You can read more about the impact augmented reality will have on eCommerce at Entrepreneur.