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Last holiday season, we saw online sales skyrocket due to the global pandemic and social distancing measures. 2021 doesn’t have to be different - and adding an Augmented Reality shopping experience to your store can help you ensure that.

It’s never too early to talk about holiday sales and Christmas, and most importantly, strategies to reach your customer base. 2021 is no different — the threat of COVID may be subsiding, but the delivery delays and product shortages are still very much real, forcing consumers to start shopping for Christmas gifts before Halloween

As consumers holiday shop, they’re jumping from store to store with less brand loyalty as they search for the easiest and most convenient purchasing journey. This all to say, no purchase is given. Driving traffic to your website via paid channels like Facebook or Google Ads does not guarantee conversion - customers need extra reassurances to ease their purchase anxiety and trust you’re the right ecommerce brand for them.

You can achieve this simply by adding an Augmented Reality shopping experience to your store. Let’s explore different AR shopping solutions and how this immersive technology can create a record-breaking holiday sales season for your business.

Augmented Reality for a Complete and Omnichannel Customer Experience

There was a time when AR shopping experiences were exclusive for large, established retailers such as IKEA or L’Oreal. But times are different now. As the technology matures and new solutions and service providers appear on the market every year, even smaller retailers can leverage the power of Augmented Reality without making a dent in their bank account.

We can’t omit the role of COVID-19 and its effect on consumer behavior during the pandemic. During those few months of nationwide lockdown and store closures, consumers finally had the opportunity to test the technology during everyday tasks like shopping and truly understood the value of AR.

The Snap Consumer AR Global Report published earlier this year in collaboration with Deloitte Digital uncovered a huge shift in consumer behavior that’s most likely to not only continue but also grow stronger post-pandemic. Namely, Augmented Reality shopping experiences are quickly becoming an expectation.

It’s not difficult to see why, though. From in-store activation through to 3D product visualization, AR packaging, and AR advertising, this immersive technology delivers a wholesome experience for your customers they’ll look forward to seeing and interacting with.

Another thing is, until recently, consumers had to heavily rely on product imagery and their imagination to understand the product they're about to purchase. Or... Go to the physical store and interact with it in-person. 

Neither of those options add to the convenience promised by online shopping because people either place the order, hoping the item will live up to their expectations, or complete the purchase offline. Augmented Reality finally bridges the gap between the physical and the virtual, creating a true omnichannel experience for your customers.

You’re undoubtedly already familiar with the ‘try before you buy’ shopping tools, but there are a few other engaging AR experiences you can implement this holiday season to increase your sales and customer experience.

Augmented Reality for Ecommerce

Enabling your customers to shop in 3D or view items in their space has shown to increase conversion rates by up to 94%, as reported by Snap Consumer AR Global Report (2021).

The way AR product models work is so simple: the consumer activates the 3D experience on their smartphone or a tablet, and the item is overlaid with the real environment providing something static images cannot: context behind the product. The 3D product model appears to the user in its full size, can be rotated, and even zoomed in to provide additional information typical for an in-store experience. 

When enabling the placement of a piece of furniture in their room for example; AR makes it incredibly easy for users to see volumes, textures, patterns, and more importantly if the size, color and style will fit with the rest of their home décor.

Not to mention that the benefits of Augmented Reality for ecommerce are vast, starting with an enhanced customer experience, higher ‘add to cart’ rates and ending with decreased returns. In addition, AR gives consumers the confidence they’re choosing the right products for their needs and requirements before they even purchase the item - and provides peace of mind that the item will not have to be returned.

One thing that has successfully prevented retailers from adapting 3D product visualizations on a broader scale, however, has been the upfront investment cost and the complexity of 3D content creation. Threedy.AI has found a way to enable affordable 3D product model creation by combining the power of AR and artificial intelligence (AI), enabling DTC brands to turn thousands of static 2D images into highly interactive 3D models with three simple clicks: 

 

Threedy.AI’s revolutionary approach saves hours on tedious and highly manual 3D content creation we’ve known so far, acting as a “virtual assembly line”. Moreover, the solution requires no upfront costs and provides flexible, monthly payment options, so you essentially only pay for what you use. The solution also easily integrates with most major ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, or Magento.

Augmented Reality for Advertising

Consumers are overwhelmed with the number of ads they are exposed to every day - so much so, they have learned to filter through and ignore most of the marketing communications they see. Augmented Reality advertising gives brands a chance to be heard again. 

AR digital banners are tough to ignore (and not because they’re annoying - quite the opposite, in fact!), and as a result, have higher click-through rates and impressions than traditional digital advertising mediums. AR advertising is interactive and feels real, unlike static images or banners, giving customers the opportunity to engage with the brand on a whole new level.

AR banners can be used for remarketing (for example, cart abandonment campaigns) and would be especially useful in weeks approaching Blank Friday and Cyber Monday sales as consumers hunt for the best deals - and then during the Boxing Day sales.

 

Nextech AR 3D Ad Network is an intuitive, self-serve, or fully managed ad platform that can help you get started with digital programmatic display advertising.

Augmented Reality for POS (Point of Sale)

QR codes are everywhere - why not add one in AR to your Point of Sales material and completely transform the shopping experience for the customer? AR allows you to include any type of messaging you think can enhance the interaction with your brand.

Imagine your merchandising items being printed, produced and deployed the usual way, but carrying a magical QR-code-triggered Augmented Reality brand ambassador hologram that can demo the product, or give a special tip or promocode to clients. All your self-standing and tabletop displays, end caps, wobblers, posters, brochures, sales guides,  etc. could come to life and deliver this ultimate customer interaction.

This could be product guides and even manuals (yes, AR user manuals are a thing!) that would allow the customer to understand the product better and start enjoying it pretty much straight away. AR provides an effective medium that displays the content visually during initial setup, configuration, troubleshooting, regular maintenance, or for demonstration of proper usage. 

The possibilities are endless. For higher-ticket purchases, this could be an opportunity for your CEO or founder to deliver a personalized message in the form of a human hologram. OR, if you’re an apparel store, how about a hologram of a social media influencer wearing your clothing? These interactions aren’t by any means groundbreaking, but AR turns them into something unique and cultivates a positive impression of your brand.

Adding Augmented Reality to your POS is actually a lot easier and more affordable than you may think. It’s universal, which means it works with all smartphone devices, and users can enjoy the experience without purchasing any additional AR equipment. The QR code is printed, meaning the only cost you’ll need to include in your marketing budget is the creation of an AR experience (on-off!).

Augmented Reality for Packaging

The post-purchase experience is one of the most crucial aspects of the customer journey. When done right, it significantly increases customer satisfaction, encourages repeat purchases, and inspires loyalty. Augmented reality packaging can certainly enhance it - and add that ‘WOW!’ element to the shopping experience.

 

AR packaging is an engaging and innovative approach that brings life standard branding & packaging or marketing collateral to initiate the user’s first experience of the product. Human holograms with brand ambassadors are activated once the customer scans the product’s QR code. 

Providing consumers with brand and product education (tutorials, coaching, etc.), Human holograms act as support agents accompanied by 3D product callouts, hyperlinked product pages, and immersive branded environments. This ‘GenieAR’ concept boosts customer engagement by delivering episodic content and allowing users to turn on their notifications to be alerted of new content the moment it’s released.

And because AR experiences are fun to interact with, expect customers sending through UGC (User Generated Content) you can then reuse on your social media and support your acquisition efforts. Not to mention AR packaging provides an excellent opportunity to add elements of gamification, encouraging customers to complete a task to reveal a discount, for example.

Episodic content continues to encourage customer engagement, driving optimal product usage and promoting repurchasing. Imagine a celebrity brand ambassador with weekly episodes talking about a product or providing recipes - it’s fun content customers won’t want to miss!

Blue Bite’s research into the state of QR code usage in 2021 revealed that not only do we see consumers scanning QR codes on a more frequent basis, but that the biggest increase came in the form of interactions per object of 98%. This means consumers are more likely to scan a QR more than once with the desire to see a previous experience, showing an untapped potential for episodic content.

Leverage Augmented Reality to Boost Your Sales this Holiday Season

Augmented Reality has the potential to completely revolutionize the shopping experience for your customers, and this tool can come particularly valuable (and profitable) in the next couple of months as we approach the holiday season. 

With acquisition becoming more expensive than ever, the only way to stay competitive is to maximize every interaction customers have with your brand. Delivering seamless and engaging experiences at every touchpoint of the buyer’s journey turns one-time purchases into loyal customers who genuinely like your brand and want to continue this relationship.

Augmented Reality is the perfect medium to inspire such a positive brand image and significantly increase your ROI as a result. But it won’t be long before other DTC brands catch up on the market demand for AR shopping experiences, so act while the technology is still considered exclusive.



Looking to boost your holiday season marketing campaign with Augmented Reality shopping experiences? Look no further than Nextech AR, and reach out to us here to see how we can turn your idea into reality.

Nextech

Written by Nextech