Shopping is becoming a whole new experience.
Imagine the convenience of trying on any pair of shoes without leaving your couch and changing the color with a swipe of your finger.
Imagine browsing through the vast wardrobe of your favorite celebrity. You spot a jacket, try it on in a virtual mirror, and it auto-sizes to fit you perfectly. With a single tap, it's purchased and on its way to your doorstep.
Welcome to the world of WebAR, a game-changer in the realm of online shopping.
WebAR (or web-based augmented reality) is a technology that shares the magic of AR over the internet -- no app required. A simple tap on your browser can transform your reality.
This technology isn’t a mere novelty. It drives increased engagement and sales. It allows brands to establish deeper, more meaningful relationships with customers. And according to estimates published by BuiltIn.com, WebAR makes a brand’s message twice as impactful.
Consider Saatchi Art, the world's largest online art distributor. The platform introduced a WebAR feature called "8th Wall” that enables art buyers to visualize more than a million works of art in their own spaces. The result? A 17% increase in spending and a four-fold increase in the likelihood of a purchase.
Shopify reports products advertised with WebAR have a 94% higher conversion rate.
Similarly, Etsy saw a 94% increase in wall decor and art searches due to their AR feature.
Even industry giants are getting on board. Amazon recently launched its "Virtual Try-On" for eyewear and shoes, and Nike uses AR and VR in-store to provide customers with detailed product information. And let’s not forget Tenshino Restaurant in Bangkok who recently unveiled a WebAR menu system that surrounds its food with immersive artistic experiences. Sushi with a side of abstract art anyone?
Retailers aren’t ready, but they should be
Despite these successes, only 1% of retailers have incorporated AR into their operations, and more than half aren't equipped to leverage AR at all, according to estimates from G2, a leading software marketplace. Yet most consumers prefer retailers who offer AR experiences, and a significant majority would shop more frequently if AR was available, per research from Threekit.
IKEA, an early adopter of AR, capitalized on the exciting power of the technology and the ubiquity of AR-capable smartphones. Its "IKEA Place" app became the top application across iOS and Android. The app allows customers to visualize how furniture will look in their homes, and it’s revolutionizing the furniture shopping experience.
Are these AR trends sustainable? As it turns out, quite so. According to estimates published by Retail Dive, 92% of Gen Z shoppers want to shop in AR. However, nearly half of them will give a brand just one chance to meet their expectations before moving on to a competitor. The stakes are high, and it's crucial to get in the game.
For those skeptical about WebAR, consider its benefits.
WebAR takes the wonder of AR to a whole new level, offering anytime, anywhere experiences. More than a trend, it’s a tool that delivers impressive results. And there’s plenty of investment and enhancements to be had. 3D Cloud by Marxent raised $7.5M in Series D funding to expand its 3D creation platform for furniture and furnishings for WebAR. 8th Wall Inc. released new WebAR features that can augment the sky and lock stunning experiences to physical locations.
The oncoming impact of AI
WebAR’s evolution has accelerated at an unprecedented rate thanks to AI. AI is enhancing interactivity, personalization, and realism. It’s driving advancements in full body tracking for virtual try-ons. You can see the future in the news. Text-to-3D Devar has released a powerful new AI feature that generates WebAR objects by SMS. Need a 3D rendered pair of Club Master sunglasses that channels the swagger of the eighties? They’re just one text away.
Then there’s Geenee AR, a WebAR publishing platform for brands and creators. It has announced an integration with Inworld AI, a platform for creating artificial intelligence characters. Soon anyone will be able to create and converse with AI characters in augmented reality. Have you seen the movie “Her”? It’s not just a movie anymore.
And let’s not forget Web3. SmartMedia Technologies announced development of immersive tokenized experiences powered by Niantic's WebAR Platform. This could redefine ownership, scarcity, and utility in the digital world.
Investments are booming. Experimentation is skyrocketing. And while skepticism can be healthy, don't let it smother you. You don’t want to look back and realize you’re the Polaroid of the digital camera revolution, the Blockbuster of digital streaming, or the Blackberry of smartphones.
The future of marketing is here, and it's augmented.