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Why immersive commerce is more essential than ever for retailers

Why immersive commerce is more essential than ever for retailers

The customer experience has never been more important for retailers as they fight to differentiate themselves from Amazon and other giant mass merchants. Now that the coronavirus has shuttered stores worldwide, sellers are striving to translate that experience online — and they’re discovering how immersive technologies that place goods in real-life context engage consumers where they shop, boost purchase confidence, and deliver new insights into the product functions and features that matter most.

Technology concepts such as 3D imaging and augmented reality (AR) may once have seemed futuristic, but in fact they’re more commonplace than ever. Whereas virtual-reality simulations that require specialized software and headsets remain a decidedly niche market, AR and 3D are much more popular. In fact, eMarketer predicts that 1 in 4 consumers in 2020 will interact at least once a month with AR, which blends digital content with the physical environment.

Recent technology advances are behind the growth in usage, with both iOS and Android devices accommodating 3D and AR content that can be displayed directly within the Web browser, with no standalone app download required. While so far most AR content is available in the form of games such as Pokémon Go or photo “lenses” for Snapchat, wider visibility is on the immediate horizon: Google intends to integrate AR content into search results, and Facebook is piloting AR ad campaigns with leading brands.

With adoption rising heading into 2020, retailers already had incentive to invest in immersive commerce — and by now, it’s becoming a top priority. That’s because 3D and AR tools:

 

Boost engagement and sales.

The inability to size, hold, and buy items prior to purchase has long been a crucial gap in the online shopping experience — and with more customers now relying heavily on the Web to source their goods, bridging that gap is essential. Immersive commerce provides a viable solution: 3D assets enable shoppers to rotate and flip product images and zoom in to examine details such as materials, detailing, and product features , while AR enables shoppers to virtually try items in real-world context, giving them accurate size and fit information.

Shoppers recognize the potential value of these tools, with 57% saying they want help visualizing how products would look in their environments, and a quarter seeking tools to virtually try on new makeup or clothing styles, according to Vertebrae. Not only do 3D and AR assets help shoppers evaluate products more accurately; because they spotlight product details and features to their fullest advantage, immersive commerce tools can support upsells, driving higher order sizes. Furniture retailer CB2 found that product pages featuring 3D and AR experiences drove 21% higher revenue per visit and a 13% lift in average order size.

 

Engage consumers where they’re shopping now. 

3D and AR shopping experiences are designed for interaction on mobile devices, which are dominant now that the majority of consumers are at home and away from workplace computers. Mobile traffic for March is up 34% year-over-year, according to comScore, compared with a decline of 4% for desktop or laptop machines.

Even before this drastic shift, retailers were already seeing mobile traffic dominate: during the 2019 holiday season, for example, smartphones accounted for 58% of all retail traffic, and drove 36% of sales, according to Adobe Analytics. 3D and AR tools can help increase mobile conversion by solving small-screen shopping challenges: nearly 1 in 5 consumers told comScore the inability to see and compare product details on small screens stopped them from ordering. Enabling 3D product manipulation and providing context by overlaying AR images on real-life backgrounds can overcome these hurdles and help merchants achieve mobile sales gains.

 

Gain vital insight into shoppers’ priorities.

Without the data customarily gleaned from foot traffic patterns, store associates, and point-of-sale interactions, retailers are hungry for insights — and immersive commerce tools yield new metrics based on how shoppers virtually interact with individual product features. Similarly, because 3D and AR tools can help shoppers visualize customizations on the fly, retailers can determine which options are most popular, helping guide future product decisions

Additionally, AR and 3D assets can shed a light on post-purchase behavior. Interaction with AR-based manuals and installation guides can reveal which product features are befuddling and which require maintenance and repair most frequently, yielding still further insights.

The coming months present retailers with unprecedented challenges — and opportunities. By deploying immersive 3D and AR shopping experiences, they can engage consumers online and overcome key purchase hurdles to earn sales and foster brand satisfaction. Contact Vertebrae today to get started and join the vanguard of immersive commerce.