Augmented Reality coming to eCommerce
Updated: Oct 19
How often have you shopped your online retailers like Walmart, Amazon, or eBay, and found an item that you really think would be a great piece in your living room, bathroom, etc. Only for it to arrive in your home smaller than you imagined, a different shade of color, or not at all as you hoped it would look? In certain situations, you may have been able to stress test an item in-store and even on rare occasions take them home before you buy to try it for yourself. But in the situation where you can’t do that, how can we see things for ourselves before we make the commitment to purchasing said product?
Augmented Reality is the answer! Well, sort of. Let’s elaborate.
With the amazing technological leap that augmented reality has provided us, we are able to manipulate our environments to digitally produce products in real-time as if they were there in the real world as a 3D object. This way we can understand on a consumer level if the product would be a great fit for us before we buy.
With this technology, we can bridge the gap of second-guessing ourselves and be able to instantly imagine a better workflow for buying products on the internet. As a business, this entices consumers to prevent person-to-person contact (a big bonus considering the still ongoing pandemic issues we are facing today.) and go for a more order online/ship-to-me approach. Which can increase safety and relationships with shipping partners you can work with too.
There are some downsides however to going this route. This is only practical in a furniture sense, there is no way augmented reality can allow us to test products that need a more elaborate human physicality, such as computers, shoes, food, etc. The only practicality you can achieve from this sort of tech is how big/small a product would be as well as its texture, materials, colors, or best location in the consumer’s home. You are missing out on other senses like tastes, smells, or even feel. Someone that hasn't seen/eaten a piece of fruit for example, wouldn't be able to tell the value of one if they saw one without using those senses.
The best alternative we can suggest that some companies are trying to experiment with apart from AR technology would be to try before you buy approaches. Some products actually have an option with credit approval that allows the consumer to have an item shipped to them free of charge to try the product for a set amount of time before they are billed and if they return it before the allotted time frame given, they don’t pay anything if they don’t like the product.
This is an amazing concept that is starting to take a bigger shape in the eCommerce industry as it still prevents face-to-face sales, increases shipping relationships with 3PLs and warehousing services, and even prevents the consumer from losing interest in the business if they don’t like the product. Chances are if the consumer didn’t enjoy the product, they’ll be enticed to check the site for alternatives before they check out other retailers. This also could allow the brand to offer discounts or coupons for the inconvenience increasing the retention even further!
Should you use any of these methods to increase sales and consumer retention in your business? We believe AR is the future of consumer relations and the modern way of buying online. Metaverse, a company owned by the creators of the social media platform Facebook, is already jumping the gun with trial and error research and attempting to create digital retail storefronts to be able to sell goods directly to the consumer. If the concept is already being perfected by big-name corporations, it might be something worth looking into before everyone else does.
As for try before you buy, this can be a risky situation in terms of legal issues and permits that would require you to work directly with unions and banking companies. However, if executed right. This can really have a positive impact on your community and your customers.
No matter what though, the best part about the fulfillment business is that it will always be needed. Regardless, if the future decides to utilize the new AR technology over the current generation methods or not; Your business can benefit from outsourcing your product line to a 3PL service like us at Black Mountain! We provide warehousing, specialized packing, and shipment with a vast majority of world-renowned shipping partners to get your product to your consumers. You can learn more on our home page!