Augmented reality is looking like it might be one of marketing’s top buzzwords for 2022, but don’t let the buzz dissuade you from the reality that augmented reality (AR) is more than a shiny object or new toy for marketers. AR, and the larger category of 3D, are already changing the way consumers want to shop, and accelerating the pace at which brands across categories must evolve their business.
The majority of global shoppers have said that they will shop with brands who provide AR, and they are likely to spend more than they would if 3D and AR were not available during the purchase process. Those tendencies are amplified for brands shopping on some of the leading ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, which has placed a heavy emphasis on enabling their merchants to leverage 3D and AR in their brand experience.
Augmented reality will be a defining feature in the future of commerce, both online and in-store. Early adopters of 3D and AR have already begun to reap the benefits, but there is more to come.
Many brands have leveraged 3D and augmented reality for marketing over the years, and now with improved fidelity and performance, the range and scale of opportunities for brands to capitalize on these immersive technologies has exploded. Some of the applications that we expect to see more frequently include:
Among the early adopters of AR and 3D are brands such as Nike, Sephora, and Wayfair, as well as retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, and The Home Depot. Platforms are also taking the leap to bring immersive experiences to their users. Snapchat was among the first to make AR a core component of their platform with filters, and they have quickly expanded their offerings to include advertising and commerce opportunities for their partners. Facebook and Pinterest have also begun to release 3D or AR ad offerings, capitalizing on the buzz and interactivity that the technology gives to social advertising and commerce.
The strengths of a 3D/AR strategy include the ability to use a single execution for multiple applications in a larger ecommerce or cross channel strategy. The same 3D configurator added to a website can be used for virtual photography, marketing assets, or in-store activations. Further, by using 3D configuration software, an augmented reality experience can be quickly created to deliver the most immersive and interactive brand experience in the market.
It is easy to see the benefits of 3D and augmented reality when looking at the business results generated once they are launched, but perhaps of greater note is the desire of consumers to use 3D and AR. According to a study done by Deloitte in partnership with Snap, 76% of consumers want to be able to use AR as a tool in their daily lives. These more practical applications make sense. Consumers have demonstrated an appetite for commerce that gives them greater flexibility, from buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), curbside service, expanded delivery options, and most importantly, access to a greater variety and availability of products. 3D configurators provide shoppers with the infinite shelf, allowing them to explore and interact with products that may or may not be available in-store, or readily available with the exact specifications and features of their choosing. High fidelity 3D configurations and augmented reality experiences also boost consumer confidence and lead to lower returns as more products meet or exceed buyers’ expectations. Shopify merchants have reported 40% decreases in returns of products enabled with 3D. With return rates for ecommerce historically in the 20-30% range or higher, this is exciting news for sellers.
Brands that use 3D product configurators see additional benefits behind the scenes as well. In lieu of traditional photo and video shoots, which provide a limited number of views of a particular product, 3D configurators can be used to create an abundance of product images and creative assets at a fraction of the cost. Instead of allocating inventory to a product shoot and choosing between only showing certain colors or spending the time and funds to shoot every option, 3D models of every color and feature combination can be readily available. For special editions, new color releases, or additional features, creating new assets is as easy as updating the models and their associated materials.
For those who are interested in using 3D or augmented reality for commerce and marketing, the requirements for launching a quality 3D configurator or AR experience may come as a surprise. Building a custom solution from scratch is no longer the only option on the market, nor is choosing an out of the box solution that presents limitations on the level of interactivity. ATLATL Visual is built to provide brands with an efficient but tailored approach to adding 3D and augmented reality to websites.
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