AR’s role as a shopping utility continues to be validated, including its ability to boost conversion rates and reduce product returns. This takes on new meaning During Covid-era retail lockdowns when the value of visualizing products remotely in 3D is amplified.
This value flows from AR’s ability to combine eCommerce benefits (pricing, endless aisles, etc.) with physical retail benefits that have been taken away (product perspective, etc.). And as stores reopen, AR could likewise have utility in powering in-aisle interactions for “touchless” browsing.
Zeroing in on the eCommerce side of things, Amazon this week pushed things forward with its latest AR shopping feature. Known as Room Decorator, it lets shoppers scan their space to form spatial maps, then place and manipulate 3D furniture models in dimensionally-accurate ways.
If this sounds familiar, Amazon had a lighter version of this feature available in its flagship App called AR View. While that feature lets users place and visualize single items, Room Decorator takes a more holistic approach to decorate entire rooms with several items at the same time.
Going deeper on Room Decorator, The ARkit-built utility launches from a “View in Your Room” button that now shows up on thousands of furniture products on Amazon. Once the camera is activated and the feature is launched, users can place items and save room designs for later.
While using Room Decorator, Amazon will also suggest complementary products that users can drop into the experience and purchase on the spot. This signature-Amazon feature could serve as a utility for shoppers, while facilitating larger basket sizes for the eCommerce giant.
Speaking of utility, Room Decorator hits a few important marks. For one, it takes the “AR as a Feature” approach by piggybacking on an established app, versus forcing an extra app download. This is a leading AR format according to our consumer AR survey with Thrive Analytics.
Second, Room Decorator integrates an AR call-to-action within the existing shopping flow — a success factor demonstrated in the past by Houzz. The thought is to place AR in users’ existing paths, given the technology’s early stage when users aren’t going out of their way to find it.
The Next Normal
Room Decorator’s timing is also notable, as tech giants continue to pivot towards all things eCommerce in the Covid era. AR’s integration in the eCommerce flow is logical and additive as it helps shoppers gain back the product interaction that they’ve lost from retail lockdowns.
As noted earlier, AR can combine eCommerce and physical retail’s strengths. This is analogous to the hybrid structures we’ll see throughout the “next normal.” It will be a combination of the old-normal and modifications that are cherry-picked from the discoveries of the past six months.
AR shopping could be one of those modifications. Retailers are already realizing its benefits in the elevated conversion rates and reduced returns cited earlier. The latter resonates with e-tailers that sacrifice margin on free returns, especially Amazon which already operates on razor-thin margins.
Besides Amazon (and consumers), AR itself could benefit through Amazon-sized distribution. Through a mere exposure effect — amplified by Amazon’s operational scale — this period could represent AR’s moment to shine, and an opportunity to anchor itself in retail’s next normal.
Header Image Credit: Amazon