AR Can Put You on the Path to Frictionless Online Shopping

Consumers may love ecommerce, but they are increasingly frustrated by the online shopping experience.

A new Meta-commissioned study by GWI found that while people say they love how easy ecommerce is, they wish there was a way to combine that convenience with the certainty they get from in-store shopping. For many consumers, ecommerce still isn’t seen as a substitute for physical retail. In the research, 64% of early ecommerce adopters said they still prefer in-store to online because of the certainty, and 58% said they make decisions faster when shopping in person. The reasons include:

  • Many websites look and feel identical
  • Finding the right product online is too time-consuming
  • Reviews aren’t a great substitute for experiencing a product in-person

These consumer pain points should serve as a warning to brands and retailers: It’s time to change the status quo or risk missing out on sales. Fortunately, immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) are helping brands solve these challenges by captivating online consumers in exciting new ways and setting up their business for future success.

Building for the future can help drive better results today

When the pandemic hit in 2020, retailers that were early to adopt mobile optimizations were often better positioned to absorb the shock. Meta’s customer growth marketing team found that brands committed to continually evolving their customer service were faster to adapt to consumer behavior shifts and embrace new, convenience-enabling technologies.

The metaverse will open up the next evolution in friction-free customer experiences.

For example, fashion retailer Ralph Lauren began optimizing its mobile customer experiences in 2019 to bridge the worlds of online and in-store shopping. During the retail slowdown in 2020, Ralph Lauren was already in a good place to accelerate its features rollout, resulting in 4 million new customers on its direct-to-consumer platforms, and double-digit growth in online sales.

Just as businesses were encouraged to develop a mobile strategy years in advance so they could be ready at the most opportune moment, forward-thinking brands are preparing for the metaverse now by testing immersive AR filters, games and shopping experiences that put them at the forefront of marketing.

The metaverse is changing ecommerce for the better

The metaverse will open up the next evolution in friction-free customer experiences. That’s because solutions like AR combine the ease and convenience of online shopping with the excitement of a delightful, up-close product encounter. Already, more than 700 million people were using AR across Meta technologies every month as of October 2021. Consumers are able to shop and experience products virtually and use filters to interact with their favorite brands in fun and novel ways.

And as the technology evolves, so will opportunities for brands and consumers, helping further address ecommerce friction. Shoppers will be able to immerse themselves in digital dressing rooms and showrooms. They’ll get curated recommendations to help them find more of what they want, saving time and effort. And businesses will be able to build exciting digital storefronts that feel uniquely theirs, helping them stand out from competitors

Innovative brands see the benefits of early adoption

Walmart adapted to the increase in online shopping by giving mobile customers the ability to interact with products outside of stores. How? By including AR ads with 3D view on Facebook as part of a campaign, Walmart was able to show people what products would look like in their own environment. Shoppers spent 10-fold more time with these AR ads than Walmart’s business-as-usual ads, resulting in a 2.2% lift in website traffic.

To promote its sponsorship of NCAA March Madness, Wendy’s partnered with Meta to launch the Wendyverse, a virtual restaurant. To build consideration, the team ran two AR experiences, including an interactive Instagram ad that used in-camera effects to bring a half-court basketball jump shot game to life. Wendy’s AR ads drove a 4.1-point lift in ad recall.

And the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival partnered with more than a dozen talented creators, who used AR effects in Meta Spark to build an online gateway called the Coachellaverse. With more than 100,000 opens on Instagram, fans around the world got the chance to interact with a playful collection of characters, textures, objects and sounds that helped bring the Coachella experience to life.

Your brand can harness the power of AR

The metaverse is the future of friction-free shopping, but foundational technologies like AR are available to use right now. By prioritizing customer experience innovation and making immersive ads a regular part of your campaigns, you can capture more attention today and position your brand to make the most of what comes next.