Augmented Reality and it’s place within the eComm sector
August 22, 2019
Augmented reality (AR) is about to be hugely disruptive within eCommerce and early statistics are proving just that. Now that Shopify has launched AR support, that trajectory is set to continue as it becomes more accessible to smaller merchants.
Current projections indicate that augmented reality will create $120 billion in revenue by 2020, so delivering this more immersive experience should be on every merchants agenda. Those willing to be early adopters of the technology will most likely be the ones to benefit most in the short-term, with a competitive advantage on those that don’t choose to join the AR revolution.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)
AR has a very broad spectrum of applications, limited only by creativity, but the ecommerce arena is one that has massive potential to reap massive advantages. By utilising AR, smartphone users are able to physically see a to-scale product in the room. So, not only does it give customers a better idea of how a product looks and feels, it also provides an accurate guide on how a product will fit into a space and suit an environment. This level of understanding is otherwise impossible to achieve and one that has proven to have a substantial impact on trust.
Will it impact conversion?
Almost definitely. Studies carried out in America showed that 40% of shoppers would be willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it through augmented reality. It also concluded that 61% of shoppers would choose a store that offered AR over one that didn’t, which is where that early-adoption advantage comes into play!
Augmented Reality on Shopify
Luckily, the good folks at Shopify fully recognise the massive role that augmented reality will play in the future of eCommerce and have already made huge moves. At Unite 2019, they announced full AR support for all Shopify merchants at no cost. All merchants need to do is create the 3D models of the products and Shopify handles the rest.
How to setup AR on Shopify
There’s two parts to the process but Shopify, as always, have done an incredible job of taking all of the pain out of implementing AR. In fact, they rolled it out across every Shopify store earlier this year.
Step 1. Create your renders
This is the complicated part and one that you’ll most likely need to hire an agency or freelancer to do. You need to have 3D renders of your product that will essentially be what the user sees, complete with textures, shadows and to-scale measurements. The quality and experience of whoever does this will certainly have an impact on the quality (and level of reality) that the renders have. It’s not a case it either works or it doesn’t, it about how the modeller interprets the product and applies the technology. Internally, we use Cinema 4D and Blender, which are the industry standards.
Once the models have been created, they need to be exported in .usdz file format. You’ll also want to have .gltf or .glb file of the renders, so that AR works across all browser ages and into the future.
Step 2: Add the 3D Warehouse app to your Shopify store
3D Warehouse powers AR on Shopify so you need to install the free app. Simply go to the signup page, enter you myshopify URL and then click install.
Once the app is in, there’s a few simple code snippets that you need to add to your active theme in order to enable AR. This might sound complicated and/or intimidating, but all that is required is to copy and paste some code into the top of the theme.liquid and product-template.liquid files. The code you need and more detailed instructions are here.
Step 3: Upload 3D renders and assign to products
Navigate to the 3D Warehouse apps and hit “Add 3D Model”. You then just need to give the render a name, upload the 3D files, and select the product that you want to add from the dropdown list. The screenshot below shows how this look once complete.
Step 4: Check & test the stores front-end
Whenever any changes are made to your online, no matter how small they may seem, you should always check the front-end of your store to check that everything works as expected and that there’s been no affect on other parts of the site.
If you navigate to a product on a supported phone that has AR assigned, you should see the AR badge in the top right corner of the main product image. Give it a click and enjoy seeing your product live in AR!
See it in action
With our help, The Cambridge Satchel Company are now one of the companies that are utilising augmented reality on Shopify to boost revenue. At BAO we created the 3D models for one of their new bags, ‘The Doctor’s Bag’, and added the augmented reality functionality to that product page. The move was quickly picked up in the media with Vogue and Elle reporting how innovative the technology is.