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AR has reached a tipping point: now what?

Augmented Reality has reached a tipping point, becoming increasingly affordable, accessible and highly relevant for even the average print shop. AR has become a way to offer solutions and help your customers sell products and engage audiences in real, practical ways.

Still skeptical that augmented reality is more than a gimmick? It is understandable. Much of what we have written and announced about the Metaverse seems irrelevant to the average printer. For example, promotional week‘s article touting the Metaverse as reaching a “tipping point” as major CPG brands sell products in gaming spaces like Fortnite and fashion trendsetters attend Metaverse Fashion Week. If that’s all you think the metaverse is, you can apologize for turning it off.

But that’s not all. Expanded reality Has has reached a tipping point, and it’s one that’s becoming increasingly affordable, accessible and highly relevant to even the average print shop. Used correctly, AR has become a way to provide solutions and help your customers sell products and engage their audience in real, practical ways.

On August 24th, What They Think will host a webinar featuring Joe Zeff of Joe Zeff Design (Pittsburgh, Pa.) as one of the presenters, who has developed AR campaigns for companies such as AT&T, Pittsburgh Robotics and the Pittsburgh Zoo . His AR scenes are designed to do all of those things, and he’s a one-man business. Zeff will also be featured in the September 2022 issue of Print messages. If after reading the article and watching the webinar you still think AR is a gimmick, that might come as a bit of a surprise.

Joe Zeff explains to his website visitors how AR “helps tell better stories”. Holotwin created with RealityBLU WorldViewAR.

The practical side of AR

If you can’t pick up a product and hold it in your hands, AR is the next best thing. And it’s no longer super expensive and in a range only big companies can afford. With some licenses, it would only take a single campaign to pay for the software license for a full year.

Let’s look at some of the data showing the power of AR in today’s online shopping world:

  1. More than a quarter (26%) of buyers are more likely to buy a product with AR. That’s just practical. If I want to buy a couch and can use an app to place that couch in my living room and see it in place and if it looks good, my likelihood of buying that couch increases. This is not a gimmick. It’s basic human nature.

For the same reason…

  1. Shopify found that products advertised using AR/VR demonstrated: 90% increase in the exchange rate. I’ve bought floors this way myself and it’s incredibly helpful. A style that looks good online might look terrible in our home with our wall paint, furniture, etc. Seeing that the flooring turned out exactly as I had hoped would give me a huge boost in confidence in the purchase. However, most of the brands that use such tools don’t call them AR. They call them “product visualizers”. Use your phone to check out this one from LL Flooring.
  2. Based on its internal data, Vertebrae, a developer of AR software, found AR engagement increased by 20% during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was not an unusual phenomenon. What we need to know now is that many of these pandemic-related trends (including contactless payments, QR code check-ins for doctor visits, and, yes, AR visualization) have become permanent. Consumers have grown accustomed to the ease of use, convenience, and personalization that these changes bring. Why should they give her up now?

As Vertebrae’s founder and CEO at the time, Vince Cacace, noted:

Consumers show a higher level of consideration when purchasing items online that they would normally go to a store to see, touch and feel. Because of this, they are more open to trying newer experiences like 3D and AR that answer questions and give them the confidence to buy – like “How big is it?”; “What is it like on me or what is it like around me?”; and “what are the details?” Another reason for increased consideration is that they definitely don’t want to go to the post office to process a return.

While this quote came during the height of the pandemic, not much has changed. In fact, with free returns and the ubiquity of Amazon Prime today, our online addiction has only grown. As returns become increasingly decentralized, with drop-offs at our local post offices, CVS locations, and retailers like Kohl’s, shoppers are finding that “easy returns” has a dark side – it has caught up with our lives as we constantly run away from giving back, because it is “easy”.

It’s easy not to have to give anything back in the first place, and this is where AR visualization plays another important role. SeekXR found that AR-guided shopping reduced returns by 25%. Shopify found it reduced returns by 40%.

So, as shoppers discover how easy AR is to use and how practical it is in their daily lives (and that it’s much more than a fashion week in the Metaverse), and as retailers discover how much it improves their bottom line, AR becomes a tool like any other.

Augmented Reality is here, it’s practical and it’s here to stay. With AR solutions becoming more affordable and easier to use, now is a good time to start exploring options.

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