Augmented Reality (AR) has brought significant changes to industries around the world; from helping surgeons practice on 3D patients to immersing tourists into world-famous buildings through AR glasses. It has greatly enhanced experiences, deepened engagement, and is a key driver of the tech economy.
Today, the growing influence of AR has nudged modern retailers to integrate AR into their own products and services. Major companies including IKEA, GAP, Converse, and even Burberry have nestled AR into their shopping experiences as an added benefit for their tech-savvy customers. It's a sensible move, considering the total value of the AR market is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2025!
Here are a few more promising stats:
- Markets and Markets predicts the revenue of AR to hit $61.39 billion dollars by 2023—an annual increase of 55.7% over the next five years.
- Retail Perceptions revealed that 61% of shoppers prefer to buy from retailers that offer AR over retailers who don’t.
- Retails Perceptions also showed that 40% of shoppers would be willing to pay more if they could experience the product through AR.
Without a doubt, AR is globally perceived as a fun and helpful technology that helps shoppers get a real-life sense of a product before they buy it. Naturally, plenty of savvy retailers are launching their own AR apps to leverage this realistic tech for improved conversions—a trend that isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Many retailers, however, are hesitant to hit the pedal and are wondering whether AR is really the right choice for them. Investing in 3D modelling, dealing with software integration, and many other expensive details are not to be taken lightly. Plus, there are more and more AR development agencies popping up and offering all sorts of confusing things. But bringing AR into your business should be exciting, not worrying. So, if you're in retail and think AR is a possibility but aren't sure if it's right for you, here's a quick peek into what it's all about.
The cost of 3D modelling
Turning 2D photographs into interactive 3D models that customers can explore from every angle is no small feat. Not to mention the complexity of getting the colours and textures exactly right. As a result, modelling services can range from 135 EUR to a whopping 720 EUR per model. When you have a product catalogue with hundreds of items, such a high sum isn't an attractive prospect. While corporate retailers may have such luxury, smaller businesses hoping to bring an exciting spark to their online shop are understandably shut out.
Unless you have a talented niece or family friend willing to model your products for less, the reality is that these prices are likely to increase as the demand for AR snowballs. It's why retailers have been so quick to jump onto the opportunity before the trend catches on and spikes the cost. But, if you're one of the many businesses that haven't taken the plunge just yet, don't worry, there's still time.
So, is AR worth the investment?
Despite the high upfront cost, many retailers can vouch for its return on investment, like this online furniture shop that increased sales by 16% after launching their very own AR mobile app.
Corporate retailers including Sephora and Home Depot have also reported a promising boost in customer engagement and improved decision-making, since visualising a product using AR gives shoppers the following advantages:
- The ability to virtually place a product in their own space.
- A clear picture of the exact style, colour, and model they want—which can also lead to fewer product returns.
- An increased "feeling of ownership", since placing a cute 3D chair in their apartment drives them to purchase the real thing.
- A positive shopping experience that helps convert one-time shoppers into returning customers.
AR is clearly effective for both shoppers and retailers, but only when it makes sense for the customers. Adding AR to your online shop simply for the added flair will maybe get you a few more eyes, but not many conversions. Think about how visualising your products can enhance your customer's shopping experience. Do they need to try your product on themselves? Would it help them to preview it in their own space? Can AR help bridge the gap between shopping in-person and online?
If you invest in AR for the right reasons, then you're much more likely to find it a profitable success.
How to get started with AR—without the high costs
When integrated properly, augmented reality can create an unforgettable shopping experience for customers everywhere. With its unique ability to deepen engagement and drive decision-making, AR is undoubtedly an effective investment that can promote more sales for retail businesses. The caveat, of course, is the high upfront investment.
At ConfigWise, we think small businesses should be able to wow shoppers with a custom AR app without breaking the bank. So, we created the first centralised 3D model library designed for AR, allowing retailers to dip in and pull out ready-made models to use in their own AR apps. That means you get high quality models, without paying the full cost of creating them.
Plus, for retailers with unique products, we offer unlimited 3D modelling service for a small fee (or even for free, depending on your plan). As for passing your product information into your new AR app, we've made it possible to weave our software into yours, so you can edit and update product information using the same system you already use—or simply let it sync on its own.
With plans for every price point (including $0), we made sure there's something for every business, so you can get started with AR at the cost you feel comfortable with.
Book a free call with our friendly team and get answers to all your questions before you get started. If you decide that AR isn't for you, then you can simply say "thanks anyway" and be on your way. At least you'll have the peace of mind that you made an informed decision.
On the other hand, if you're feeling adventurous and want to give it a shot, you can take our free plan for a spin before deciding whether you want to go bigger and bolder. Go ahead and choose one of our flexible plans to see everything you get, sometimes without spending a penny.