2022 could be the breakout year for mobile AR shopping

Discussion
Pinterest’s “Try On for Home Decor” feature - Source: Pinterest
Mar 02, 2022

A new study finds 76 percent of consumers have already used AR (augmented reality) one way or another. Of the 24 percent who haven’t, half hope to do so in the future.

The survey from Camera IQ, an AR-design platform, was taken in December and featured 1,500 U.S. consumers with the majority between the ages of 18 and 44.

AR’s potential has received some hype as related to the development of the metaverse, but the study contends similar AR-experiences are already available on Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and other social platforms.

Other key takeaways from the survey:

  • AR experiences often go viral: Seventy-eight percent say they are likely to share a brand’s AR experience with their community, while 53 percent say they have already shared AR content on social media; 
  • AR accelerates the buyer’s journey: Fifty-nine percent say they would be more likely to purchase a product they’ve seen visualized through AR; 
  • AR offers several crucial use cases for brands: Among consumers who have used AR, product visualizations are the most common experience, at 39 percent; followed by virtual try-ons of clothing, makeup and accessories, 36 percent; and playing games on their mobile devices, 32 percent.

A survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers last year from Snap, Snapchat’s parent, found one in five consumers have used AR when shopping, with 28 percent non-users interested in doing so in the future.

Asked which parts of the online shopping experience they would be interested in using AR for, the top responses were to:

  • Get a 360 visualization of a product, 25 percent;
  • See what products look like on me, 23 percent;
  • Help me see how customized products will look, 22 percent;
  • Help me work out the exact size of a product, 19 percent;
  • Make shopping more fun, 17 percent.

On its fourth-quarter call in early February, Jeremi Gorman, Snap’s chief business officer, said, “We believe that AR represents a consumer-centric shift in how our community shops and experiences new products with virtual try-on and visualization, allowing consumers to make the leap from ‘This looks good’ to ‘This looks good on me.’ This leap could help lower returns and increase conversion rates for retailers.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect the use of augmented reality (AR) to take off this year in efforts to elevate the smartphone shopping experience? Will AR’s mobile appeal in the near term largely be around virtual try-on or do you see engagement and other opportunities?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The supply chain crisis is playing a key role in the uptake of AR. "
"I don’t think the use of AR will “take off” this year, nothing really “takes off” in retail — pandemic influences aside. It’s still clunky."
"...with increased availability of 5G connectivity, it will make it more feasible for retailers to pilot bandwidth intensive AR apps."

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11 Comments on "2022 could be the breakout year for mobile AR shopping"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

More people are using AR for things like seeing how products look in their homes and to visualize items in three-dimensions – and part of this is because the functionality has been rolled out by mainstream retailers like Target and IKEA. However I would not get overly excited about AR. It has its benefits, but the way it is currently used is still functional rather than inspiring and, overall, it plays a relatively small part in the buying journeys of most consumers!

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

The supply chain crisis is playing a key role in the uptake of AR. With shoppers unable to visit products in stores, AR is the perfect way to see if an item is a smart buy. I still struggle to see AR fully take off in clothing, though, because one has to see how an item moves with them, feels on them, etc. But for categories like furniture, auto, and decor, AR is a helpful tool.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Retailers will continue to pilot augmented reality (AR) apps and 2022 may be the year that consumers become more interested in trying and using AR apps. Virtual clothing try-ons is a perfect application for AR and so is any product that customers want to see that isn’t physically in the store. Custom designs of apparel, furniture and cosmetics are ideal products for AR apps. And with increased availability of 5G connectivity, it will make it more feasible for retailers to pilot bandwidth intensive AR apps.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Color me skeptical, still, that AR will be much more than a novelty in retail in 2022. Those survey responses all assume that the AR experiences will drive actual meaningful value that compensates for the time and effort required of the shopper to engage with the content. And to date, we just haven’t seen many examples of retail AR apps that result in meaningful impacts on conversions. There have been a few notable exceptions, of course, including Tilly’s early forays into AR but, overall, we haven’t yet found a model that consistently performs.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

I agree 100 percent, even though I find myself in the minority on this. My thought is anything that adds friction between the customer and a purchase will have difficulty with adoption. In most applications I’ve seen AR adds steps to the customer journey that, while fine the first time, aren’t as novel the more times you have to repeat them.

Dion Kenney
BrainTrust
9 months 7 days ago

I recall, many years ago, asking if it was important for everyone to have email accounts. At that time most of our client interactions were at the C-level with guys (yes mostly men) who didn’t have their own computers, and had their meeting notes typed up by secretaries. The response was “we’ll give everyone email accounts when my mom knows how to send an email.”

Though said in jest, it turned out to be a reasonably good benchmark. My boss’s mother sent him an email within two years, and that coincided with mass adoption of business email. The modern AR equivalent might be “AR will take off when my mom is playing ‘BeatSaber’ on her Oculus Quest”

Brian Delp
BrainTrust
9 months 7 days ago

Absolutely. I think as retailers develop strategies to minimize returns, utilizing AR can make a significant impact. Unfortunately, some major retailers are well behind the pack in general tech functionality and will need to catch up, however AR should be one of the priorities.

David Spear
BrainTrust

For many years, we’ve heard “this is the year of AR,” only to discover several shortcomings or disappointments. Yes, AR has great potential for the right use cases, but the majority of consumers don’t leverage it on a frequent basis. There is clear potential for apparel try-on, furniture “what-ifs” and home painting color selections. I also see great potential with associates in B2E applications that provide insights, tips, and recommendations when dealing with shoppers. AR is slowly being embedded in more common apps and as adoption grows, it will become mainstream but, for now, 2022 is not its breakout year.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

I agree that AR is growing in popularity, but don’t be led by just the percentage of users. The majority of consumers surveyed were under 44. That’s leaving out Boomers and Gen X. I feel confident predicting that AR and other digital solutions will grow in popularity year over year.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

I don’t think the use of AR will “take off” this year, nothing really “takes off” in retail — pandemic influences aside. It’s still clunky. When Apple comes out with a user-friendly way to engage and their tool is applied to real tensions or for entertainment, it will take off.

Right now it does seem that the virtual “try-on” or “what does this look like in my room” provide the best use case because AR in this instance solves a real pain point. We’ve used the Best Buy app for TV fit three or four times.

It is cool technology that will take more time to spread in B2C.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust
No. I do expect growth, but no dramatic hockey stick for mobile AR. The problem lies in the fact that mobile is not the key “visualization” point for much of purchasing. About half of customers are still purchasing online via desktop. A Forbes article identifies a Forrester report suggesting 51% of folks say that it’s easier to purchase on a desktop than a mobile phone. Several issues eliminate some of the key advantages suggested by the Snap survey. Mobile tech remains difficult to handle for larger products such as furniture or appliances. Clothing is shrunk down to a factor of less than 1/12th the size of an average person, so becomes a quandary for many, requiring a lot of zooming in and out to see if something looks acceptable. Sizing a product is difficult on a small screen. While that doesn’t preclude people from using mobile AR more often, especially as there is more familiarity with AR and mobile devices are the go-to product, 2022 will doubtfully be a watershed year. I would expect mobile… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The supply chain crisis is playing a key role in the uptake of AR. "
"I don’t think the use of AR will “take off” this year, nothing really “takes off” in retail — pandemic influences aside. It’s still clunky."
"...with increased availability of 5G connectivity, it will make it more feasible for retailers to pilot bandwidth intensive AR apps."

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