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The Role of Augmented Reality in Eсommerce

20 min read

Ecommerce has witnessed a remarkable surge in popularity and market penetration. With the advent of digital platforms and the growing preference for online shopping, ecommerce has revolutionized how consumers access and acquire products and services. The convenience, accessibility, and vast array of options offered by shopping platforms have propelled its rapid growth and transformation of traditional retail practices.

In the midst of this digital transformation, technologies like photo editing software have become increasingly important. These tools allow businesses to enhance product images, even giving them the ability to relight photo, which can significantly improve the online shopping experience for customers by offering a more realistic view of the product.

On the other hand, augmented reality which blends virtual elements with the real world has been actively integrating into the realm of ecommerce to open up new possibilities and transform the way customers engage with products and make purchase decisions.

How does the tech impact the ecommerce industry by augmenting customer experiences and driving sales? Let’s find out in more detail.

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What Is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) has emerged as a groundbreaking tech that refers to the integration of computerized input, such as visuals, sounds, or haptic feedback, with the physical world in real time. By overlaying digital elements onto the user’s perception of reality, AR creates immersive and interactive experiences, blurring the boundaries between the virtual and real realms.

At its core, simulated reality relies on computer vision, tracking, and display technologies. Computer vision algorithms enable the recognition and tracking of physical items or surfaces, allowing the system to accurately position and anchor virtual materials in the physical space.

Tracking mechanisms can use markers, sensors, or even artificial intelligence to precisely align virtual elements with the user’s perspective. Display technologies, ranging from handheld devices to specialized headsets, project the simulated content seamlessly into the user’s vision.

Different types of AR

The tech encompasses various forms and uses. Here are a few augmented reality types  :

  1. Marker-based AR  relies on the use of visual markers or patterns, typically printed images or symbols, to trigger and overlay virtual content on top of the real world. The markers act as reference points for the AR model to discern and anchor the virtual items or information;
  2. Markerless AR is also known as location-based or location-aware AR. It uses GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and other sensors in mobile devices to determine the user’s location and orientation. Virtual materials are then overlaid onto the real world based on this data;
  3. Projection-based AR projects virtual content onto real-world surfaces to create an augmented environment. This can involve using projectors to display images, videos, or interactive elements onto walls, floors, or items;
  4. Superimposition-based AR involves overlaying computerized images or info onto real-world scenes in real time. It uses computer vision to track the user’s movements and align the virtual content with the user’s perspective;
  5. Browser-based AR allows users to access virtual content directly through their browsers, making it more accessible and convenient. In the realm of digital marketing and advertising, the adoption of browser-based AR has proven to be a game-changer.

Notably, the field of computer modeling continues to evolve rapidly, and new AR applications, practices, and variations are constantly being explored and developed.

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality: How They Stack Up

While both are transformative techs delivering immersive experiences, they are not similar as one might think. They differ in their approach to altering our perception of reality.

Perception of reality

AR aims to enrich our perception of reality by blending digital content with the physical world. Users can see and interact with both the real environment and virtual elements simultaneously.

In contrast, VR ensures a fully immersive digital atmosphere that replaces the real world. Viewers are completely isolated from their physical surroundings, and their senses are primarily stimulated by the virtual realm. This enables users to explore and interact with the virtual environment as if they were physically present.

Level of immersion

AR provides a less immersive experience compared to VR since users remain aware of their physical surroundings while engaging with virtual content. This feature makes AR particularly suitable for situations where maintaining real-world awareness is essential, such as navigation assistance or displaying contextual information during live events.

VR, on the other hand, offers a highly engaging practice. Viewers’ senses are fully engaged, enabling them to feel as if they have been transported to an alternate reality. VR’s ability to shut out external distractions makes it ideal for uses where total immersion and focus are desired.

Devices required

AR products can be experienced through a variety of devices, ranging from smartphones and tablets to dedicated smart glasses and headsets. Well-known AR examples include mobile apps like Pokémon Go and Snapchat filters. These devices typically feature cameras, sensors, and display screens to overlay digital content onto the real world.

VR necessitates specialized headsets or goggles to fully immerse users in the virtual atmosphere. These head-mounted displays (HMDs) provide stereoscopic visuals and often include built-in motion tracking and controllers to enhance the user’s interaction with the virtual world. High-end VR systems, such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, require powerful computers for optimal performance.

How Online Retailers Utilize AR

Augmented reality is a powerful tool that allows for creating a totally different consumer experience ensuring new impressions and emotions for the customer. In the era of digitization and online business, retailers can’t but use this tool for enhancing, diversifying, and improving their services. Here is how web retail sellers use AR for shopping:

  • Virtual product try-ons: AR enables consumers to visualize how products would look or fit in real-life settings before making a purchase. For example, in the fashion industry, customers can virtually try on clothes, shoes, or accessories using their smartphones or augmented reality devices. This tech allows consumers to gauge the product’s size, color, and style, thereby, enhancing their shopping experience with personalized product recommendations based on their preferences and past interactions.;
  • Interactive product demonstrations: The tech enables ecommerce businesses to create interactive product demonstrations that go beyond traditional product images or videos. By overlaying digital data on real-world things, users can better grasp the product’s features, functionality, and usage. For instance, furniture retailers can use AR to project virtual furniture into a buyer’s living space, allowing them to visualize how it would look and fit within their home environment;
  • Virtual showrooms and storefronts: It’s one of the ways AR works, providing customers with an authentic shopping experience from the comfort of their homes. By using AR applications, consumers can virtually explore a 3D representation of a physical store, browse products, and gain detailed info by interacting with virtual elements. This not only enhances the convenience of online shopping but also helps businesses showcase their entire product catalog in a visually appealing manner;
  • Enhanced product details and visualization: Prospects can access additional details, such as specifications, user reviews, or tutorial videos, by simply scanning a product with their smartphones. This augmented data empowers customers to evaluate products thoroughly, leading to increased confidence in their purchase decisions. Additionally, by staying informed about potential market trends and the latest developments in the industry, customers can make more educated choices, answering questions like “Will Cardano go up?” and adapting their purchasing decisions accordingly.;
  • Packaging and unboxing AR experiences: By scanning the packaging using AR-enabled devices, customers can unlock hidden content, such as personalized messages, interactive games, or exclusive discounts. This not only adds an element of surprise and delight but also reinforces brand loyalty and encourages social sharing.

Augmented Reality Benefits for Eсommerce

In the realm of online shopping, where virtual interactions dominate, the integration of AR brings forth a wave of benefits that not only captivate consumers but also completely change the way they shop. The tech opens up new dimensions of exploration and engagement, offering a truly immersive and delightful shopping experience.

Visualizing products in real-life scenarios

Introducing cutting-edge technology like AR takes the shopping experience to the next level. With AR, customers can use their smartphones or wearable devices to superimpose virtual products onto their surroundings, allowing them to see how furniture, home decor, or even clothing items and beauty products would look in their homes or on their bodies. This interactive experience eliminates guesswork and induces shoppers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

Eliminating size and fit worries

AR technology offers a solution to a long-standing challenge in online shopping—the uncertainty of size and fit. With the tech, prospects can virtually try on clothing, accessories, or even glasses, accurately assessing how they would look on themselves. This feature not only enhances convenience but also reduces the likelihood of returns, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and cost savings for online retailers.

Creating personalized shopping experiences

By leveraging AR, retailers can analyze buyer preferences, purchase history, and contextual data to offer tailored product recommendations and promotions. AR-powered virtual showrooms can also be customized based on individual interests, creating an engaging and personalized environment for each client.


Furthermore, combining the power of augmented reality with digital marketing and advertising strategies can amplify the impact of personalized product recommendations and promotions.

Increasing customer engagement and interactivity

The tech injects an element of fun and interactivity into the online shopping experience, significantly boosting client engagement. By enabling purchasers to interact with virtual products through gestures, voice commands, or touch, AR turns shopping into an entertaining and immersive activity. This heightened engagement leads to increased time spent on ecommerce platforms, improved brand loyalty, and higher conversion rates.

Minimizing returns and enhancing customer satisfaction

Returns are an inherent challenge in online retail, often due to discrepancies between consumer expectations and the actual products received. AR reduces this issue by providing buyers with a more accurate representation of products before purchase. It minimizes unexpected surprises and helps reduce return rates, raises consumer satisfaction, and builds trust between customers and retailers.

Bridging the online-offline gap

The tech can bridge the gap between online and offline shopping. By allowing prospects to experience products virtually, AR can entice them to visit physical stores or showrooms to make their final purchases. Additionally, AR-enabled QR codes or markers can be used in-store to provide customers with supplementary information, promotions, or exclusive deals, further enhancing their shopping journey. For a seamless integration of such augmented reality features, businesses can turn to custom Drupal development, which ensures a tailored and efficient implementation of these innovative solutions.

Boosting brand awareness

AR technology brings digital marketing and advertising to a new quality level. Marketers implement computerized product demonstrations and advertisements to showcase their offerings in a captivating and interactive manner. Furthermore, influencer collaborations and branded virtual experiences provide opportunities for businesses to engage with their target audience on social media platforms, creating memorable and shareable experiences that drive brand awareness and customer involvement.

So, augmented reality app development opens up innovative avenues for businesses to create immersive branded experiences, enabling them to elevate their brand awareness strategies through captivating and interactive campaigns that resonate with their audience.

Examples of Eсommerce Companies That Have Already Embraced AR in Retail

There are several examples of online retailers that have integrated artificial reality tech into their platforms and created fully functional AR websites that enable their customers to enjoy advanced shopping experiences right from the comfort of their homes.

  • IKEA: The furniture retailer IKEA launched an AR app called IKEA Place. With this app, users can virtually place furniture items in their homes using their smartphones or tablets. Users can see how the furniture will look and fit in their space before making a purchase. This immersive experience has greatly helped clients in visualizing and making more informed buying decisions;
  • Sephora: A renowned cosmetics brand implemented AR technology in its Virtual Artist app. Users can try on various makeup products virtually using their smartphone’s camera. It uses facial recognition and mapping technology to accurately apply makeup to the human face, allowing users to experiment with different looks and shades. An AR store makes it easier for prospects to explore different products and find their perfect match without visiting physical stores;
  • Warby Parker: An online eyewear retailer offers an AR reality feature within its app to help consumers try on glasses. Users can select frames they like and use their phone’s camera to see how the glasses look on their faces in a real-time format. This experience has enabled prospects to accurately assess the fit and style of glasses, making the online shopping process more personalized, confident, and convenient;
  • Wayfair: Specializing in home goods and furniture, the company has incorporated artificial reality into its mobile app. With Wayfair’s AR tool, users can visualize how furniture and decor items will look in their homes. By placing virtual items in their space, buyers can assess size, color, and style options before making a purchase. It has proven to be an invaluable tool for prospects looking to furnish their homes and make confident buying decisions without visiting offline shops;
  • Adidas: A global sports apparel and footwear brand boasts a popular AR-driven app called Adidas Originals. It gives users an opportunity to access exclusive virtual experiences tied to specific products. For example, they can try on sneakers, see product details in 3D, and even play interactive games. This integration has allowed Adidas to engage with its customers in innovative ways and win a strong competitive advantage;
  • James Allen: A well-known online retailer specializing in diamond engagement rings and fine jewelry has created an augmented reality platform for users to try on all jewelry pieces they have. The tech accurately renders the rings’ size, style, and design, giving purchasers a realistic representation of the jewelry. Users can rotate and zoom in on the virtual ring, allowing them to examine intricate details such as the diamond’s cut, clarity, and color.

Ikea is providing AR technology via their Ikea Place app allowing customers to see what their furniture would look like in their home before ordering it

Implementing AR to an Ecommerce Store: Steps to Take

At this point, it’s clear that augmented technology is a beneficial feature for online retailers to embrace. So, if you are about to implement it in your online store, follow these steps to ensure successful and efficient AR tools integration.

Determine your objectives

First and foremost, identify the specific goals you want to achieve with the tech such as enhancing product visualization, reducing returns, boosting conversions, or improving client engagement. Having a clear vision will guide you throughout the process. WordPress development can play a pivotal role in achieving your objectives, providing a versatile platform to create engaging and functional digital experiences that align with your goals.

Choose an appropriate AR solution

Several options are available, ranging from third-party AR platforms to customized solutions. Consider factors such as ease of integration, compatibility with your existing platform, pricing, and customer support. Look for solutions that offer features like 3D modeling, real-time rendering, and seamless integration with your product catalog.

Prepare your product catalog

To enable AR functionality, you need to create 3D models or obtain them from your suppliers. Start by selecting the products you want to offer in AR and ensure they have accurate and detailed specifications. Hire 3D modeling professionals or consider outsourcing this task to specialized agencies if necessary. Alternatively, explore 3D modeling software that allows you to create basic models in-house.

Integrate AR into your online store

It involves connecting the chosen solution with your existing shopping platform. When using a third-party platform, follow their integration guidelines, which often include installing an AR plugin or embedding code snippets into your website. Work closely with your web development team to ensure a smooth integration process and minimal disruptions to your store’s functionality.

Optimize AR performance

To deliver an excellent virtual experience, ensure optimal performance. Optimize your website’s loading speed, as AR requires additional resources. Compress your 3D models and textures without compromising quality, and employ efficient caching techniques. Regularly test your AR features on different devices and browsers to ensure compatibility and smooth operation.

Promote and educate your customers

Update your product pages to highlight the availability of AR, providing clear instructions on how to access and use it. Juggle with various marketing channels, including social media, email campaigns, and blog posts, to inform your audience about the benefits of AR in your ecommerce store.

Collect and analyze data

Implement analytics tools to gather data on AR usage and consumer behavior. Monitor metrics such as engagement scores, conversion rates, and user feedback. Analyze this data to gain insights into the effectiveness of your virtual functionality, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to further optimize your AR tools.

Summing Up

Augmented reality has certainly become a game-changer in ecommerce, providing immersive experiences, enhancing client engagement, reducing uncertainty, and boosting sales. Its impact is undeniable. As the AR industry evolves, it will keep transforming and enhancing online retail.

So, businesses that embrace tech now have the opportunity to shape the future of ecommerce, delivering exceptional customer experiences and reaping the rewards of a competitive edge.


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About the author

Roy Emmerson is the co-founder of, a B2B SaaS platform that helps businesses stay up-to-date on the latest technology trends. With over a decade of experience in the tech industry, Roy is a thought leader in the field and is passionate about helping companies embrace new technologies to improve their operations and drive growth.

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