By 2020 customer experience (CX) will be the primary brand differentiator (via WALKER).
In this blog post, we will talk about some of the ways you can add virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to your Shopify store in order to create experiences that drive conversions and continued engagement.
VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)
As Daniel Beauchamp (head of VR at Shopify) says, “thinking of VR in e-commerce, only in the sense of walking around a virtual store, is a very limiting view of how VR can improve retail”.
You can also use it to create an emotional bond between your brand and customers, facilitate their buying decisions and even build an intelligent testing environment for your products – all leading to a better and more immersive customer experience (CX).
This is what the Shopify VR team proved by creating a VR experience for a product from Shopify merchant StandDesk.
They combined a 3D model of the product with VR and:
- Enabled customers to see the product exactly as it would appear in real life and get a better sense of its scale and details.
- Enabled customers to customize it within VR – all changes were immediately reflected on the product page.
- Kept the checkout process user-friendly – customers didn’t need to worry about entering a credit card in VR. They just had to take off their headsets and complete the standard Shopify checkout process.
All this is experienced directly in the browser – no apps or plugins required.
Click here to see the product sample page (you do need a VR headset).
The project proved that “3D and virtual reality could be seamlessly embedded into Shopify stores.”
But VR in e-commerce is a fairly new concept and a lot of tools and apps need to be developed before the technology becomes available to all store owners.
Тo facilitate the adoption of VR in Shopify, the Shopify VR team is going to make parts of the VR technology they’ve developed available to all merchants.
They’re currently improving the technology and are looking for 3D artists and VR developers to join their Partner program (and help them scale it to all store owners).
Until then, you’ll need a custom solution.
- OPTION ONE
Contact a Shopify expert that can build a VR experience for your store. Take Webowski, for example – amongst other things, they offer development of 3D/VR/AR technology. Though they do not currently have any VR/AR experiences that are live, they are launching a few projects in 2018. This is something to look forward to!
- OPTION TWO
Contact a VR developer who is familiar with A-frame – an external VR framework that can be easily integrated with Shopify.
Here are some of the developers we have screened and believe are good with this technology:
- C. Van Wiemeersch – Twitter and GitHub
- Gabriel Baker – Twitter and Edorble blog
- Vishnu Ganti – Twitter and website
- Andres Cuervo – Twitter and website
- Hayden Lee – Twitter and website
VR is still in its early days but it will continue to develop at warp seed. Even though today we can only scratch the surface of VR, one thing is certain – since it enables extremely immersive, seamless and exciting customer experiences, adopting it will give you an edge over your competitors.
AUGMENTED REALITY (AR)
AR doesn’t enable people to completely escape their physical environment. It simply enriches it by adding virtual objects to it (such as video or 3D graphics, for example). It is less immersive but much more accessible as it is widely adopted on mobile. This means that you can target a much larger audience.
AR allows your customers to visualize and experience your products in a highly interactive and engaging way.
Here are a few ways you can apply AR to your Shopify store depending on your industry:
- FURNITURE & HOME DECOR
Say, you sell furniture or home accessories – with AR you can show photorealistic 3D models of your products to your customers. They can virtually interact with them – rotate them, adjust them, move them around and examine them from different angles – and get a better idea of how they’d fit into their apartments. Shopify recently augmented Magnolia Market’s native app with AR and the result illustrates perfectly how this concept can be put into action. This project was a proof of concept and aimed to pilot AR technology which will be available to merchants in the foreseeable future.
Until then, you can use Augment to deliver a similar experience (watch video). It easily integrates with Shopify (click here to read a step-by-step guide). To get started, you’ll need an Augment account and 3D models of your products – hiring a 3D artist or using 3D scanning are both viable options. But if you want to build the models in-house you can use ThreeKit – an online 3D product configurator that seamlessly integrates with Shopify (click here to read more).
If you need further information on 3D modeling, this article explains how Shopify built the 3D models for the Magnolia app and discusses the pros and cons of the available methods.
- FASHION INDUSTRY
If you’re in the fashion industry, you can use AR to enable your customers to virtually “try on” clothes and accessories, take photos and share them socially. With Avametric, for example, you can deliver accurate 3D renderings of clothing and accessories and enable your customers to visualize them on customizable digital mannequins. Avametric offers custom solutions – they can augment your native app with AR or build an AR app for your store.
You can click here to get a better idea of how their solution works.
And here you can see how they augmented GAP’s app with AR (in collaboration with Google).
- BEAUTY INDUSTRY
AR’s “try on” capabilities go beyond fashion. If you sell beauty products you can enable your customers to virtually “try on” makeup – they can upload a photo or a live video and see how, say, a specific eyeliner, mascara or lip gloss would look on them in real-time. By seeing realistic representations of the products customers can easily choose the color or shade that fits them best.
If you decide to go with a custom solution ModiFace is your best option. They’re the brilliant minds behind Sephora Virtual Artist and are trusted by other leading companies in the beauty industry such as Estée Lauder and L’Oréal.
They can offer you:
- Patented Beauty AR software development kit (SDK) – photo-realistic video & photo SDK for makeup, hair & skin simulation in real-time. Available for Android, iOS, Windows, and Web.
- Incredibly accurate 3D facial feature tracking and analysis for videos and photos.
- Fully custom AR module for Android, iOS & Windows apps – ModiFace can help you create a customized experience with precise product simulation and integrate all AR features with your existing mobile application. See an example.
- E-commerce AR module for web – your customers will be able to test any product on their photo or live video directly on your website. The module is accessible through any browser and can be deployed seamlessly and quickly. See a sample image.
VR and AR technology empower in-store like experiences and enable customers to navigate them themselves. In time, as the technology improves, these experiences are going become even more immersive and seamless.
VR and AR empower you to deal with buyers’ reluctance in a more efficient way, retain existing customers better, attract new ones and increase your sales.
The earlier you adopt VR/AR technology, the sooner it will start paying off and the further ahead of your competitors you will get!
Do you plan to add VR/AR experiences to your Shopify store? What tools, apps or services do you plan on using? Let us know in the comments!