The future of augmented reality & mobile commerce

By Lindsay Boyajian, CMO, Augment

Retailers are inundated with new technology innovations, promising big returns for their bottom lines. It is difficult to decipher which deserve priority.

However, few innovations have been able to match the benefits of augmented reality in retail. Augmented reality creates a nexus between the brick-and-mortar experience and online shopping. Augmented reality brings the tangible experience of shopping — the ability to touch and feel — to the digital realm.

The beginning of augmented reality & retail

Augmented reality was first spotted on showroom floors. Retailers turned to AR to influence on-site interactions with customers to increase engagement in-store.

Lego implemented AR-powered kiosks and product boxes in retail locations. Customers can scan the box of a Lego kit at the kiosk to reveal the completed set in 3D AR. This in-store innovation helps customers make their purchasing decision with more confidence.

Yet, augmented reality is proving to be most impactful when it comes to online retail — specifically mobile commerce.

What AR means for mobile shopping

As mobile commerce grows, merchants still struggle to come close to the conversions of desktop. According to Business Insider, PC-based conversion rates hit 4 percent in Q1 2016, while smartphone conversion rates were at only 1.3 percent.

There are a couple factors which retail insiders attribute this disparity between desktop and mobile conversion rates.

Intent – Consumers who shop on mobile more frequently have an intent to browse rather than buy.  Mobile is for exploring and desktop is for making the purchase.

Mobile friction – Most mobile devices weren’t intended for online shopping. The smaller screens and slower load times make it difficult for users to complete their purchases easily. Think about entering all your credit card information from a mobile device? It is a cumbersome and tedious process, resulting in high shopping cart abandonment.

Augmented reality & mobile commerce

Although mobile commerce faces tough obstacles, augmented reality is proving to drive mobile app engagement and conversions.

Engagement: Augmented reality solutions allow shoppers to try virtual products at home from their mobile devices before buying. Consumers spend up to four times more time in on a product page with augmented reality versus one without it.  And AR delivers additional value to an existing ecommerce app. Shoppers spend more time engaging with your brand and products.  

Conversion Rates: As a consumer spends more time engaging with a product, they become more invested in that purchase. Further, removing the uncertainty of online shopping increases the shopper’s confidence in his or her purchase and AR facilitates the path to purchase.

Reduced Returns: 22 percent of shoppers return products because upon arrival they look different than expected. Augmented reality removes the guesswork of shopping online. Consumers are able to better perceive what the product will look like before clicking ‘buy now.’

From consumer satisfaction to abandoned carts and returned products, there are countless challenges online merchants seek to overcome. As retailers strategize to increase conversions through online and mobile channels, AR is creating a more engaging buyer’s journey for these shoppers.

Augmented reality is encouraging shoppers to spend more time visualizing and configuring products in the real world, and they are no longer left with doubts about their online purchases.

As innovation in retail continues, which tools are you using to allow shoppers to make more informed purchasing decisions to increase conversion rates across all channels?