Companies seeking to increase conversion, grow average order size, and more deeply engage shoppers are just now beginning to explore a technology that nearly 70% of U.S. shoppers have used in the last 30 days: augmented reality (AR). Shoppable AR experiences are designed to directly address the most consistent reasons shoppers leave a store or abandon a cart without making a purchase – convenience and confidence.
Businesses that attribute a useful, engaging AR experience can have a real and measurable ROI in both the physical and digital worlds. For example, conversion rates increase 90% online, order size grows 18%, and foot traffic increases 15% when using AR effectively. These are real business outcomes that any executive leader and investor would welcome.
Unfortunately, the implementation of nearly all current AR shopping experiences have failed on even the most basic levels. Examples include the major automaker that texted a QR code to consumers’ phones as well as an iconic luxury fashion house that forces shoppers through a minimum of seven steps, including downloading a standalone app, to virtually try-on a pair of $1,500 sunglasses.
As the first investor-backed group focused on extended reality shopping, we at Wool & Water have arrived at a playbook based on our work in various industries such as automotive, CPG, energy, home improvement and retail. We’ve found many similarities in what works and what doesn’t – even across very different industries. For instance, many of the core AR strategies used by a gas utility to personalize energy savings were also being used by a candy company to boost their DTC sales.
Based on our experience speaking with companies at various different levels of AR engagement, here are three tips for getting it right:
- Build for the Long-Term: Integrating true shoppable AR throughout a company’s omnichannel footprint should be viewed as the same long-term investment as any other selling channel, from physical stores to e-commerce sites. Shoppable AR is only the first of these extended technologies that will become commonplace; shoppable holograms will also likely become mainstream in the coming years as costs go down and consumer behavior demands them. Planning now for these technologies to be a permanent part of your omnichannel will ensure enterprise tech, retail footprints, and roll-out strategies are seamlessly integrated as each technology eventually makes business sense to integrate.
- Prioritize One-Step Purchase: I continue to be surprised at how many companies’ AR experiences ignore the most basic digital shopper best practices. Any web developer or e-commerce expert will know that a shopper must be able to locate and purchase a product in fewer than three steps – ideally two with CRM integration but certainly not the five-plus I’ve seen in many AR experiences. Most of all, do not direct shoppers to an AR sizing or visualizing tool that takes them off your e-commerce site. You’re only adding additional complexity and steps to the already fragile patience shoppers have with buying online when they have to go back and find what they were originally interested in buying.
- Reimagine Physical with Extended Retail: The top three reasons a shopper walks out of a store without buying what they intended include: size out of stock (54%), store associates unavailable or unable to help (41%) and color out of stock (36%). These are all barriers that can be broken down with in-store AR integration. To help accomplish this, focus on the shopper’s journey to find integration points – such as QR codes at point of purchase that enable shoppers to “save” a product, using AR for visualizing the product in use at their home, and having sales associates armed with iPads that include the full catalog of products regardless of whether they are in stock. Shoppable AR integrated throughout a physical store can significantly reduce the likelihood that a shopper leaves empty handed and just might increase their order size with trained associates who can truly show all options rather than simply talk about them.
Integrating shoppable AR is more than the limited experiment some are doing with Snapchat AR, given its significant limitations of products showcased, niche user base and prohibitive cost which can be well into the six figures. Your organization can quickly see the business and brand impact of AR once you select the right premium technology that is fast, web-based and can integrate with existing legacy tech stacks.
-Jeff Bodzewski, co-founder and CEO, Wool & Water