CX & Design, 360 Commerce March 20, 2019
Augmented Reality in Commerce: try before you buy
Suppose you remodelled your entire apartment and now it’s time to purchase furniture to match your new space. You look for the perfect table on your iPhone and see an Augmented Reality (AR) icon of a product. Handy, because when pointing your phone at the place where it should go, you can see that the table is actually too large for that space. Fortunately, a comparable model is available in one size smaller. So after you see that this new model fits in the space and you can easily go around it, you decide to buy it.
Augmented reality for e-commerce
The potential of AR in retail is very real. In addition to enriching the customer experience, which frequently increases sales, AR can play a major role in reducing the number of returns; a big problem in e-commerce. Certainly, when it comes to products such as furniture, this is an ideal solution. Because the consumer is no longer surprised by, say, the size of an item. They can also receive much more personalised advice such as, for example, the amount of laminate flooring needed based on their room size.
Despite the potential of AR in e-commerce, it is still rarely used. In part, this is because obtaining 3D models of products is sometimes difficult. But, the main reason is that to offer an AR experience, a native app must be developed that potential customers will have to download. Something that people are resistant to, to this day. Fortunately, there is now a solution in the form of a new technique: AR Quick Look.
The advantages of Quick Look
AR Quick Look is native technology that is built into iOS 12 and therefore works on all smartphones and tablets that support this operating system. Immediately, this gives a wide audience since you can use this technology with an iPhone 5S or any newer smartphone. This tech also gives you the option to use it in mail applications or embed it on webpages.
Implementing AR Quick Look is also very easy. By means of one command line, you can easily export (most) 3D models to a .USDZ file – the required extension for Quick Look – and with a few lines of code you can make it work on your website. It’s that simple! Click on the Dept logo at the top of this page to try it or test a few other good examples here.
Pitfalls to remember
If you experience how easy it is to apply AR Quick Look, it’s tempting to fall into an endless stream of ideas of how you can apply this technique in your own business. There are, however, a few things to take into account. For starters, you should know that AR Quick Look is not interactive. You can place, enlarge, reduce, and move one 3D model. But it ends there. There is no possibility, for example, to choose another model or to change the colours of the selected product.
Also, it’s not possible to include audio in your 3D model. But you can add animation in a maximum loop of ten seconds. This can yield interesting experiences, but you have to ask yourself whether that is really necessary and if your customer will find that to be a useful addition. Sometimes, simplicity is best and that also applies in this case.
Lastly, you should note that Android is also working on native AR support. But, at the moment, it’s still very complex to get everything working correctly. However, with future updates, it’s expected to be smoother and Google will also offer a similar option via ‘click and play’.
The logical next step for AR is adding interactivity. But if you can’t wait and want to get started immediately with interactive AR (without having to download an app) then there is an easy solution. In a recent update, Facebook has done an extensive AR integration in its Messenger channel (which is currently in beta). Here you can open and place 3D models in one click in addition to open other 3D models (for example, different colours of a product). It’s also possible to place hotspots for activating animations and you can create AR filters through AR Studio. See here some good examples from Asus, Nike & Kia.
AR is evolving quickly and can bring real added value for the consumer to the table. From simplifying furniture shopping to elevating marketing experiences, the possibilities of AR are endless. However, you don’t have to start big, download and implement AR Quick Look as a first step.