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Augmented Reality in Digital Commerce: Enhancing Shopping Experience

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By Tanya C Kakaria, Business Head, E-commerce Solutions, Paxcom

In the dynamic realm of digital commerce, businesses continuously seek inventive methods to engage customers. Augmented Reality (AR), an advanced technology, has gained global popularity. It revolutionises digital commerce by blending virtual objects into the real world, enhancing the shopping experience. AR has the potential to transform online shopping, letting consumers interact with products before buying.

Tanya C Kakaria

According to a report by Snap AR Global, 100 million consumers worldwide use augmented reality to shop both online and offline. Moreover, Brands having an AR experience are 41% more likely to be considered by the users.

In this article, we delve into Augmented Reality in digital commerce, exploring its revolutionary impact on how consumers interact with products and make purchasing decisions. We’ll uncover the diverse applications of AR that enhance the shopping experience, spanning from virtual clothing try-ons to visualising furniture in personal spaces before buying. Furthermore, we’ll delve into how AR addresses the limitations of online shopping, offering an immersive and interactive platform that helps customers overcome uncertainties about product fit and appearance. This instills confidence in purchase decisions and injects a fresh sense of excitement and novelty into the shopping journey.

Here’s how Augmented Reality can bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds and offer a transformative shopping experience that goes beyond traditional online shopping:
Virtual Try-On: One of the most compelling applications of AR in digital commerce is virtual try-on. Customers can use AR to visualize how products like clothing, accessories, or makeup will look on them before purchasing. This feature reduces the uncertainty associated with online shopping, increases consumer confidence, and reduces the likelihood of returns.
Product Visualisation: AR allows customers to view products in a three-dimensional space, providing a more comprehensive understanding of size, scale, and design. For instance, furniture retailers can let customers see how a sofa or table will fit in their living space. This feature bridges the gap between the physical and digital shopping experiences.
Interactive Product Demos: Brands can create interactive AR demonstrations that showcase the features and functionalities of their products. This is particularly useful for complex or technical products where a virtual demonstration can provide a better understanding than static images or text descriptions.
● In-Store Navigation: AR can be integrated into mobile apps to assist shoppers in  navigating physical retail stores. Users can simply point their smartphones at store aisles to get real-time information about product locations, discounts, and additional details, making the in-store shopping experience more efficient and enjoyable.
● Enhanced Product Information: AR overlays can provide shoppers with additional information about products, such as ingredients, usage instructions, reviews, and related items. This extra layer of information empowers consumers to make informed purchase decisions.
● Interactive Packaging: Brands can use AR to make product packaging come to life.  Scanning a product’s packaging with a mobile device might trigger a video, animation, or a story that engages and entertains customers, enhancing the unboxing experience.
Personalisation and Engagement: AR can enable personalized shopping experiences by presenting tailored recommendations based on user preferences and browsing history. This level of personalisation enhances engagement and encourages repeat purchases.
● Social Shopping: AR-powered features can be integrated into social media platforms, allowing users to virtually try on products and share their experiences with friends and followers. This user-generated content can drive brand awareness and social proof.
Virtual Shopping Assistants: AR can facilitate virtual shopping assistants that guide users through their shopping journey, answer questions, and provide real-time assistance.

Addressing Concerns and Limitations
While Augmented Reality holds immense promise in digital commerce, it’s essential to consider potential concerns and limitations:
● Implementation Costs: Adopting AR technology can be expensive, especially for smaller businesses. The costs associated with software development, hardware, and training can deter some enterprises from embracing AR.
Technical Glitches: AR experiences rely on stable technology and user devices. Malfunctions or subpar performance can lead to customer frustration and harm a brand’s reputation. Ensuring seamless experiences demands continuous monitoring, updates, and technical support.

Summing Up –

In the world of online shopping, a big change called Augmented Reality (AR) is happening. It’s not just a trend; it’s a huge shift in how we think about shopping. AR is like a special ingredient that’s making shopping feel different and better. In a time when buying things online can feel distant and not personal, AR acts like a bridge that brings together the digital world and the real world. It connects the brands with the people who want to buy things. And there’s more to this story. Brands – the companies that make the things we buy – are also changing because of AR. They’re not just selling products; they’re creating experiences. When they use AR, they invite us to be a part of something interactive and exciting. It’s like they’re saying, Come, see our products in a whole new way!" In this way, the relationship between shoppers and brands becomes stronger, like a friendship that goes beyond just buying things.

As AR gets even better, it won’t just make shopping more enjoyable; it will likely become an integral part of the future of retail and commerce.

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