E-Commerce & WebAR

How a Multinational Retailer Enhanced Online Shopping Experiences Using Augmented Reality (AR)

June 19, 2022

Consumers traditionally research products in two ways: in-store or online. However, the online product experiences can be severely lacking in-depth and detail for certain types of products.

For highly personalised items that require trying on or items that come at a high ticket price, consumers may shy away from committing online and postpone purchase decisions until retail stores are open again. Alternatively, they may turn to a competitor that has created a more premium online shopping experience and has addressed buyers’ concerns.

In a research paper by Aziz and Wahid (2018) “I prefer to visit real shops” and “It is difficult to judge the quality of the product” were listed as the two most common reasons for shoppers to defer online purchases. Since then, COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst and further increased the pressure to innovate and to overcome barriers to purchase.

The Complex Impact of COVID-19 and the Economic Downturn

One of our clients, a mail-order company that specialises in leisure and in-door sports equipment such as pool tables, table football, and workout equipment faced significant challenges when COVID-19 threatened their traditional business model.

In the past, potential customers would inspect the brand’s often high-priced and high-quality products in retail stores and then place a mail order. However, COVID-19 reduced store footfall to a bare minimum. What is worse is that many consumers delayed so-called ‘non-essential’ purchases, and professional buyers such as a bar or restaurant operators that had contributed a considerable proportion of the company’s revenue also took a more bearish view on the future and cut spending.

Nevertheless, COVID-19 also had a positive impact: as consumers were spending more time at home, more affluent consumers were looking for ways to bring more fun to their everyday activities. Our client fit their needs, but our client’s website had to sufficiently resolve all questions these consumers were having in order to close the transactions.

Augmented Reality (AR) played a vital role in achieving this goal and helping to grow sales.

How Augmented Reality (AR) Helped Drive Online Sales

Our client collaborated with us to turn some of their traditionally best-selling items into high-quality AR models to boost sluggish e-Commerce sales. This would provide potential customers with a much more refined product experience. Furthermore, customers were able to virtually place the typically bulky products in their homes or commercial spaces to gauge how they would fit.

This helped to increase website engagement and drive e-Commerce revenue.

When consumers are presented with AR technology at the point of purchase, they are able to access information without having to leave their current environment. This creates a higher level of engagement and increases the likelihood that they will purchase a product. AR allows consumers to virtually view a product from all directions, on more surfaces, and in more environments than would be possible in a traditional retail environment.

Impala Services’ Seamless Workflow

One of the reasons why the project was a commercial success for our client was that Impala Services was able to provide a holistic solution. Our experience collaborating with the client on technical writing projects equipped us with a profound technical understanding of our client’s products.

We were acutely aware of technical details, as well as factors that play a key role in customer purchase decision-making. This enabled us to create virtual product models that highlight all important selling points of assorted products and left no questions unanswered.

When implementing the project, one major obstacle that we encountered was the technical rollout: AR models are typically embedded in websites via iFrames. An iFrame is essentially a container housing HTML code that is deployed to a website and then allows HTML code to be embedded from a third-party website. While this is the industry standard, our client was concerned about deploying third-party code on their website. Privacy and data security were important considerations for them, and our technical team managed to find a solution that could execute all code directly from our client’s website.

With this important requirement being met, we were able to launch the project on time, setting our client up for success and enabling them to fully leverage AR during the important Q4 sales season.