In the ever-growing world of e-commerce, innovations are the key to success. Online retailers face the challenge of delighting customers, capturing their attention and securing their loyalty. In this ever-changing landscape, however, there is no guarantee of success, and not every innovation is truly groundbreaking.
Today, we're going to take a look at the potential of augmented reality (AR) in the world of online retail, particularly as it relates to Shopify. Augmented reality, or "augmented reality," promises immersive shopping experiences where customers can experience products in a whole new way. But is it really the answer to the industry's questions, or is it a short-lived fad?
In what follows, we'll dive deeper into the world of augmented reality and Shopify. We'll explore how AR is gaining a foothold in the e-commerce industry, what benefits it can offer, and what challenges come with it.
Table of contents
- Augmented Reality Definition: Was ist Augmented Reality (AR)?
- What is the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality (VR)?
- Is Augmented Reality still relevant for e-commerce?
- Advantages of e-commerce & augmented reality
- Challenges of augmented reality in the online store
- Augmented Reality: How to turn an image into an AR experience.
- Augmented Reality und Social Media: AR-Marketing im Social Selling
- Examples of augmented reality in online shopping
- Augmented Reality mit Shopify
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Augmented Reality Definition: Was ist Augmented Reality (AR)?
Before we dive deeper into the integration of augmented reality into the e-commerce world and how it relates to Shopify, let's first clarify what augmented reality actually is. Augmented reality, or "augmented reality" in German, is a fascinating technology that blurs the lines between the physical and digital worlds. At its core, it involves inserting digital information, objects or virtual elements into the real environment. This is done with the help of technologies such as smartphones, tablets, AR glasses or other AR devices.
Imagine looking at the world through your smartphone display and suddenly you see virtual information projected into your environment. This information could be anything from 3D product models that you can place in your space to interactive how-to guides or real-time reviews of products. Augmented reality allows users to have an immersive and informative experience in their real-world environment.
Reading tip: Learn how to delight your customers with personalization in e-commerce.
What is the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality (VR)?
It is important to understand the basic difference between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Although both technologies are immersive, they differ in their basic approach and purpose.
Virtual Reality (VR) places the user in a completely virtual environment that is disconnected from the real world. With the help of VR goggles or headsets, users are immersed in a simulated world where they are completely disconnected from their physical surroundings. In VR, users experience a completely artificial world that is often used for games, simulations or virtual training.
Augmented reality (AR), on the other hand, adds digital elements to the user's real world. AR inserts information, images, or models into the physical environment that users see through an AR device, such as a smartphone or AR glasses. Unlike VR, with AR, users are still connected to their real-world environment while additional digital layers are added. This integration of digital elements into the physical world enables new and exciting applications, especially in the e-commerce space, where products can be virtually tested in the real environment.
The difference between AR and VR is subtle but crucial. While VR immerses users in a virtual world, AR adds digital information to the user's real world.
Is Augmented Reality still relevant for e-commerce?
In a world of constant technological advancement, it's fair to ask whether augmented reality (AR) in e-commerce is still relevant or whether it's a passing trend. The short answer is yes, AR remains relevant, and for good reasons.
E-commerce companies are facing increasingly intense competition, and customer demands are constantly changing. In this environment, the ability to display products and services in innovative and immersive ways becomes a key competitive advantage. Augmented reality offers the opportunity to engage customers with a unique shopping experience. It allows consumers to virtually experience products before they buy them, try out sizes, colors and features, and get better information.
There is no doubt that AR has attracted a lot of attention in recent years and offers potential that could revolutionize e-commerce. The idea that customers can experience products virtually before buying them is tempting. But the implementation and actual benefits for online retailers are more complex than they might seem at first glance.
In the following sections, we will examine whether and how AR is actually gaining a foothold in the e-commerce industry and whether it can live up to the high expectations, or whether it is a technology that still has some hurdles to overcome in order to unleash its full benefits.
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Advantages of e-commerce & augmented reality
The combination of e-commerce and augmented reality (AR) brings numerous advantages that are of great benefit to both online retailers and customers. Here are some of the most important benefits:
1. Immersive shopping experience: AR allows customers to virtually experience products in a realistic environment. For example, they can place furniture in their living room or try on clothes virtually. This creates an immersive shopping experience that excites customers and helps them make better purchasing decisions.
2. Increase conversion rate: thanks to AR, customers can see products in action before they buy, which increases confidence and willingness to buy. This increases the conversion rate, as customers are more inclined to complete a purchase if they are sure that the product meets their needs.
Reading tip: In this post we show you how to optimize your conversion rate.
3. Reducing returns: AR can help reduce the number of returns, as customers can virtually check how products fit into their physical environment. This minimizes disappointment and inappropriate purchases.
4. Competitive advantage: online retailers that use AR in their e-commerce strategies can stand out from the competition. This can lead to a competitive advantage and attract new customers.
5. Better product presentation: with AR, products can be presented in 3D or in their real context. This allows for a better presentation and stands out from static product images.
6. Customer satisfaction: customers appreciate innovative and interactive shopping experiences. AR contributes to customer satisfaction by allowing them to discover products in a new and exciting way.
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7. Improved information transfer: AR can display information in real time, e.g. product ratings, instructions or additional information. This helps customers make informed decisions.
The combination of e-commerce and augmented reality has the potential to permanently change the way we shop online and take online retail to a new level. It offers benefits for both retailers and customers and is expected to continue to grow in importance as the technology evolves.
Challenges of augmented reality in the online store
While augmented reality is undoubtedly an exciting and promising technology for e-commerce, there are also some challenges to overcome. These are critical to realizing the full potential of AR in the online store.
1. Cost and resources: creating high-quality AR content requires significant investment in technology, software development and design. Not every business has the resources to support these costs.
2. Compatibility and accessibility: AR apps and features need to work smoothly on a variety of devices and platforms. This requires careful planning to ensure that customers can enjoy a consistent AR experience regardless of their devices.
Reading tip: We show you how you can create individual shopping experiences with Composable Commerce.
3. Consumer acceptance: consumer acceptance of AR is not the same everywhere. Some customers may feel unsure about using AR in their shopping process. Consumer confidence in the technology needs to be built further.
4. Privacy and security: using AR requires access to the devices' camera and other sensors, which raises privacy and security concerns. Protecting sensitive data is critical.
5. Content and catalog management: managing and updating AR content in a large product catalog can be complex. An effective strategy is needed to ensure that AR models and information are up-to-date.
6. Training and integration: employees need to be trained to use AR effectively, and integrating AR into existing e-commerce systems can be complex.
These challenges are real, but should not be viewed as obstacles, but rather as opportunities. Overcoming these challenges requires focused planning, investment in technology, and a willingness to adapt to changing customer demands and expectations. Those who successfully overcome these challenges could gain a competitive advantage in the e-commerce market and help shape the future of online shopping.
Augmented Reality: How to turn an image into an AR experience.
Of course, all AR tools differ somewhat from one another. However, the basic principle for turning an image into an AR experience is the same for almost all of them. The following steps need to be taken to achieve this:
Image selection: Select the image or images you want to use for your AR experience. Keep in mind that the image should have sufficient quality and clear visual elements that can be used for the AR effects.
Select AR platform: Decide on an augmented reality platform or AR development tool that fits your requirements. There are several AR platforms available, ranging from ARKit and ARCore for mobile apps to web AR frameworks like A-Frame and Three.js.
Create AR content: Use the AR platform to create AR content. This can include placing 3D objects, animations, text, or other interactive elements on the image. This often requires 3D modeling skills or the use of AR libraries.
Define tracking patterns: Defining how the AR system will recognize and track the image. Typically, this is done by creating a tracking pattern based on the image that allows the AR system to track the position and perspective of the image.
Development and implementation: Develop your AR experience and integrate it with your desired platform, whether it's a mobile app, website, or other AR-enabled environment.
Test and optimize: Test your AR experience on different devices and in different environments to make sure it works smoothly. Optimize it as needed for better performance and user experience.
Deploy: Publish your AR app or experience to the desired platforms for users to experience.
The exact steps and tools may vary depending on the platform and AR goal. It is important to consider the specific requirements and recommendations of your chosen AR development environment.
Augmented Reality und Social Media: AR-Marketing im Social Selling
If augmented reality in the online store is too elaborate for you to start with, you can use social media to find out whether AR is at all relevant for your own target group. Both TikTok and Instagram offer AR filters and effects that can be created and used by users. These platforms allow developers and creators to create their own AR filters and effects and upload them to the apps. For brands, this can be beneficial. For example, cosmetic brands could create a lipstick filter so users can virtually test the best color on themselves. The application examples are almost limitless.
Here's how it works:
Spark AR Studio: Instagram offers the "Spark AR Studio", a platform for creating AR filters and effects. This tool allows developers to create their own AR effects for Instagram and Facebook.
Creation and testing: Spark AR Studio lets you create AR effects for face filters, interactive lenses, and world effects. You can also preview the effects to make sure they work well.
Publish and use: After creation, you can publish your AR effects to the Spark AR Community. Other users can then download your AR effects and use them in their own Instagram and Facebook posts.
Creative Studio: TikTok provides a tool called "TikTok Creative Studio" that allows users to create AR filters and effects.
Creation and uploading: With this tool, you can create AR effects with 2D and 3D elements. You can add animations, face tracking effects, and more.
Upload and share: After creating your AR effect, you can upload it to TikTok and use it in your own videos. You can also share it with the TikTok community.
Both platforms feature an active community of AR developers and creators who are constantly creating new AR filters and effects. This allows users to experiment with AR technology and use creative effects on their social media.
The Branded Effect is an ad format on TikTok and Instagram that allows brands to create special AR filters and effects for users to use in their videos. These Branded Effects are interactive and fun effects that drive brand engagement and allow users to create creative content that connects with the brand. Here is some important information about Branded Effects:
How Branded Effects works:
Brands work in partnership with TikTok or Instagram to create custom AR filters or effects that fit their brand or campaign.
These effects are labeled as "Branded Effects" in the TikTok app and are available for users to use in their own videos.
Users can activate and interact with these effects by performing gesture-based actions in their videos, such as smiling, winking, or raising their hand.
Benefits of Branded Effects:
Increases brand engagement: by using Branded Effects, brands can increase community engagement and launch viral campaigns.
User-generated content: Users create their own videos with Branded Effects, resulting in authentic user-generated content.
Brand awareness: Branded Effects enable brands to increase their visibility and make themselves known to the platform's young target group.
The cost of the Branded Effect on TikTok:
The cost of purchasing a TikTok Branded Effect varies depending on the reach and duration of the campaign. TikTok offers several pricing models, including:
Cost per Day (CPD): where brands pay per day the Branded Effect appears on the app. Prices vary depending on how prominent and popular the effect is.
Cost per Impression (CPM): Brands pay based on the number of impressions the Branded Effect generates.
Cost per Click (CPC): This model is based on the clicks and interactions generated by the Branded Effect.
The exact cost can vary greatly and depends on factors such as geographic reach, target audience, and the duration of the campaign. TikTok typically works closely with brands to tailor pricing arrangements.Using the TikTok Branded Effect can be an effective way to increase awareness of your brand on TikTok and engage with the TikTok community.
The cost of Branded Effects on Instagram:
The cost of using Branded Effects on Instagram can vary widely and depends on several factors, including:
Complexity of the effect: the more elaborate and complex the AR effect is, the higher the cost of development usually is.
Duration of use: companies can choose how long they want their Branded Effect to be active. Costs usually increase with the duration of the campaign.
Reach and target audience: costs can vary depending on the target audience and reach of the campaign. A broad target audience and wider reach usually result in higher costs.
Partner with Instagram: Instagram offers a number of tools and options for branded effects. Costs may apply when companies partner with Instagram for the
So before retailers rush into elaborate AR development projects, it's a good idea to test the possibilities of augmented reality (AR) on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Implementing AR on TikTok and Instagram allows merchants to quickly reap the benefits of this emerging technology before moving into more extensive AR development projects. This step-by-step approach can help evaluate the effectiveness of AR for your business and deepen your understanding of this innovative technology.
Reading tip: Social Selling: We show you how to address potential customers on social media channels.
Examples of augmented reality in online shopping
A prominent example of AR in online shopping is the IKEA Place app. With this application, potential customers can digitally place furniture in their own living environment, optimize the arrangement, and explore different color and style options. This adds an immersive dimension to the entire furniture buying process and allows customers to evaluate products in their personal context before making the final decision.
Another application of AR in online shopping is "virtual try-on" of products. This feature allows customers to virtually try on not only clothing, but also hairstyles, jewelry, makeup and more. This is especially helpful when it comes to buying products online where a quick try-on is important, such as watches and hats. Thanks to AR in online stores, customers can experience products in real time and assess the fit, style and look before buying, which significantly reduces the risk of unsatisfactory purchases.
Overall, AR enables customers to experience products in a familiar and relevant context. This often leads to customers feeling more confident in their purchasing decisions and more satisfied with their purchases. The merging of AR and e-commerce promises an exciting future for online shopping, where customers are able to experience products in their own environment and are helped to make better decisions.
Augmented Reality mit Shopify
Shopify offers its users Shopify AR, a powerful AR tool that can be seamlessly integrated into your online store. With this feature, users can overlay AR images, 3D models, and videos of their products into their own environment. This gives them a more accurate sense of the size, scale, and details of your products. Shopify AR allows you to add images or models directly to product pages or use meta fields to display technical information. This immersive experience increases shopper confidence, boosts conversions, and drives sales.
Reading tip: Learn about the benefits of store customization with Shopify Meta Objects.
In addition to Shopify, there are other tools such as Threekit, which allows businesses to create 3D models of their products on their e-commerce websites, or Google Lens, which uses image recognition technology to connect customers with unfamiliar products. Similarly, Araya offers a Virtual Makeup AR extension that allows customers to virtually try different beauty products.
Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to revolutionize the e-commerce shopping experience, but it also presents challenges. Despite the challenges, retailers can try augmented reality to improve the shopping experience and strengthen customer loyalty. Higher conversion rates can result. However, it is important to use this technology carefully, taking into account the respective resources, customer acceptance and privacy issues. The cost of implementing AR in your own online store versus creating AR content on social media can vary widely and depends on a number of factors. It is important to consider the potential benefits and added value and plan costs accordingly. Merchants can use AR features on social media platforms such as Instagram or TikTok to familiarize themselves with the technology. This allows them to test their target audience's reaction to AR without having to invest extensive time and financial resources.
Do you need support in setting up augmented reality in your store? We are here to help you with words and deeds. Contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions about Shopify and Augmented Reality
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that merges the physical and digital worlds. It enables digital information, virtual objects or elements to be integrated into the real environment. This is usually done by using AR devices such as smartphones, tablets, AR glasses or other AR-enabled devices. Essentially, AR augments the user's real world by adding additional digital layers to create a more immersive experience. The applications of AR are diverse, ranging from 3D product models to interactive tutorials to real-time product reviews. AR offers a wide range of potential applications, from entertainment and education to e-commerce.
What is the key difference between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)?
The key difference between AR and VR lies in the way they change reality. Augmented reality inserts digital information, objects or virtual elements into the real environment, while virtual reality places the user in a completely virtual environment that is disconnected from the real world.
How can augmented reality improve online commerce?
Augmented reality can make the online shopping experience more immersive by allowing customers to virtually experience products in their real-world environment. This increases trust, boosts conversion rates and reduces returns. It also provides better product presentation and interactive elements that build customer loyalty.
What are the challenges associated with implementing augmented reality in e-commerce?
Implementing AR in e-commerce requires significant investment in technology and resources. Compatibility, consumer acceptance, and privacy are other challenges. Managing and updating AR content and training employees are also important considerations.
How does Shopify integrate AR?
Shopify AR provides Shopify merchants with a powerful augmented reality tool that integrates seamlessly with their online store.
How can I test augmented reality?
Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have various AR features, so retailers have the opportunity to test the popularity of AR with their target audience.
Who can use Branded Effects on social media?
Branded Effects on TikTok and Instagram are generally available to businesses and brands. However, in some cases, these features are available to creative AR developers, influencers, and other users with broader reach or partnerships. TikTok and Instagram have programs for content creators and developers to create and share AR effects.