The state of commerce has undergone tremendous transformation in recent times across almost all categories. Gone are the days when commerce involved a simple funnel or moved from online discovery to offline fulfillment. Today, the path to purchase is complex and, thanks to innovative technologies, new shopping experiences have emerged — and they’re thriving.
Despite having more ways to shop than ever, shoppers still have unmet needs in their purchase journey. Augmented reality (AR) is the perfect medium for brands to provide a seamless shopping experience and meet these needs. With a projected value of $1.2 trillion by 2030, AR is fast-becoming a necessity in every brand’s omni-channel roadmap.1
Through their research, Snap Inc. and Publicis Media wanted to understand how consumers are currently using AR in their shopping process across key categories. Research was conducted by market research consultancy, Alter Agents across four markets — the US, UK, France, and Saudi Arabia — in two phases. The first included a quantitative survey among 4,028 shoppers aged 13 to 49 who have used AR for shopping, and the second involved 37 mobile ethnographic interviews and daily diaries from consumers in these four markets.1
The Future of Shopping Has Arrived
With the increase in adoption of augmented reality over the past few years, it’s no surprise that many consumers consider this tech the future of shopping. For brands, AR plays a critical role in driving purchases, as more than two-thirds of AR shoppers say they intend to purchase products after using AR, a finding consistent across markets and categories.1
AR — A Commerce Powerhouse
Our joint research showed that AR offers a multitude of benefits to shoppers that, in turn, drive future AR usage.1 These benefits include greater pre-purchase confidence, which helps shoppers have a streamlined, entertaining shopping experience, reducing the likelihood of returns.
Buyer confidence is a critical unmet need brands need to overcome, since 80% of AR shoppers feel more confident in their purchase as a result of using AR.1 And this confidence comes from the fundamental utility AR offers. Brands can inspire shoppers to do a lot with AR, from product visualization to trying on the latest pair of sneakers, to using a product carousel to explore different colors or fits, and even interacting with the brand using special effects or gamified experiences. These interactive features inherently instill confidence in shoppers by offering them a more accurate and complete view of a product.
When it comes to brand and product selection, AR provides context to shoppers — along with the confidence that they’re making the right choice. That's why 66% of shoppers who use AR are less likely to return their purchases.1 Based on the exponential growth e-commerce has seen in the past couple of years, this could be a game changer for an industry currently grappling with higher returns.
AR has been able to strike the right balance between utility and engagement. For shoppers, AR experiences offer a hassle-free shopping journey that’s still entertaining and easy to use. This is likely why one-fourth of shoppers say they would use AR as a substitute for an in-person experience across categories, including CPG, Clothing, Retail, and Travel. For brands working to fine-tune their omni-channel strategy, this has large-scale implications when planning their brick-and-mortar presence.
Thirst for More
Once shoppers use AR, they’re hooked and ready for more. Using the MaxDiff method, research found that 7 out of the 10 top drivers for purchase intent are AR features, including product try-on, visualization, and smart features,1 beating out more “traditional” ways of shopping like online display, video, and online marketplace search and suggestions.
Future consumers are also demanding better tech and more seamless shopping by linking their credit cards or loyalty cards to the experience, which further helps facilitate purchase. Plus, almost all of these shoppers want to engage with AR during their post-purchase process, too, using it to get more information about a product, share their purchase experience, or review and suggest pairings.1
Snapchat Is at the Forefront
With 37%1 of shoppers discovering AR experiences on Snapchat, the platform is the second-largest source of AR discovery during shopping, after store websites. Through research and across campaigns activated on Snapchat, we have learned that, to achieve their desired outcomes, marketers should work with agencies and platforms to develop AR creative and experiences, which need to consider category nuances, business objectives, and intended target audiences. Snapchat can work with your brand to make AR a part of your consumers’ discovery and purchase journey.
“The future of shopping is here today, through the use of AR. It’s continually proven its value for shoppers as a way to show how a brand or product can fit within their lives,” says Helen Lin, Chief Digital Officer at Publicis Groupe. “Virtual try-ons and 360 product demos can help lessen the need for returns and in-store visits. Think about the impact this could have on customer service, supply chain, and overall sustainability.”