We believe augmented reality will reshape all kinds of industries in the coming years, but one area it’s already changing is commerce. And that’s no surprise, AR commerce effectively solves one of online shopping’s biggest limitations: not being able to try it before you buy it.
Today, consumers are using augmented reality to virtually try out everything, from makeup, sunglasses and hats, to visualizing what virtual appliances, refrigerators and furniture will look like, right in their homes. It’s a significant shift in the way brands and retailers are engaging with consumers to help them make purchasing decisions with more comfort and confidence.
As part of our own AR commerce initiatives, Facebook is working closely with Vertebrae to enable 3D and AR product experiences for brands and retailers across Facebook’s family of apps, starting with AR ads on Facebook. In partnership with Vertebrae, we recently co-hosted a panel discussion with luxury brand Coach, and home improvement retailer Lowe’s, who discussed their AR commerce projects.
We wanted to share four takeaways from this conversation that might help brands and retailers get started with their own AR commerce projects:
AR commerce involves the implementation of 3D product models throughout the path to purchase, with the option to use augmented reality to view a product in real life at accurate size and scale. The result is a more interactive, informative shopping experience, leading to increased consumer confidence in both the product and the merchant. Opportunities for AR commerce are numerous, including social, web-based, search, and in-app implementations, and we’re seeing examples of these from brands and retailers of all kinds and sizes.
To activate AR ads on Facebook, Coach created an ad experience that allowed users to virtually try on Coach sunglasses via augmented reality, with the option to purchase — all directly from the ad. At the close of the campaign, Coach reported a significant lift in ad recall, and purchase intent, and is now planning to explore additional AR commerce initiatives.
When it comes to augmented reality, having accurate 3D product models is key, as the realism of the experience is only as believable as the models you’re using. This was especially important to the team at Coach, who were expecting the models to be representative of the quality of the physical products, in this case, sunglasses.
The need for accuracy in 3D product models extends to all brands and retailers. Consumers are looking for as real of an experience as possible when it comes to exploring products:
Whether in-house or via external partners, brands should focus on building a 3D product pipeline that scales to deliver high-quality 3D assets for multiple SKUs, optimized for various formats and channels.
Choosing the right products to feature via augmented reality maximizes the value of the experience. Top sellers and evergreen products are almost always solid choices. Additionally, brands can look to address common questions consumers are asking. For example:
"How big is that bag really?"
"Will my laptop fit in it?"
"What do those sunglasses look like on me?"
"Will this chair fit in my space?"
AR commerce creates an opportunity to bridge the gap between digital and physical product experiences.
AR commerce has multiple distribution points, creating endless opportunities for improving the buying journey for consumers. Whether you’re starting with social commerce via AR ads on Facebook or using 3D and augmented reality on your ecommerce site, a roadmap is in order. Tactically-speaking, there are multiple moving parts, from 3D creative to implementation, to testing and optimization programs, and so on, all of which need to be managed in-house or via a technology partner.
To begin determining which distribution channel makes sense for your company, start with your goals. Are you interested in improving engagement, brand lift or purchase intent? Look to social commerce. For increased conversion, consider including more 3D and augmented reality product experiences directly on your ecommerce product pages.
AR commerce creates new opportunities to boost your engagement metrics, but optimization remains important. For any new initiative, test and optimize and test again. In the case of AR ads on Facebook, we are working to maximize the value of every AR experience for both the brand and the consumer alike.
We’re excited about what the future of AR commerce means for shopping as we know it. For brands, it’s an opportunity to build a deeper connection with shoppers, making accessible valuable product information in tangible interactive ways. For consumers, it increases confidence and shortens the path to purchase so that more informed decisions can be made more quickly.
As we continue to roll out AR commerce initiatives across Facebook’s family of apps, we look forward to bridging the gap between in-store and physical product experiences — one AR effect at a time.
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