How Does WebAR Drive Ecommerce Forward?

Katherine McInnes
Augmented Reality
Aug 2, 2022

If you were to ask the majority of consumers what they think of when they think of augmented reality (AR), your answers would likely range from the holograms from Star Wars, to SnapChat filters, with a few clunky app experiences from the 2010’s thrown in for good measure.

To say that AR had advanced in the last several years would undervalue the strides that this technology has made in both the technical and consumer spaces, as well as underestimate the impact that it will surely have in the future.

While many of the previous iterations and applications of AR have surged and then fizzled, those that have shown staying power have demonstrated an appetite among consumers for more immersive content, and have paved the way for brands and platforms of all sizes to invest and succeed in making AR a crucial part of their overall experience. One of the most important areas of growth has been the introduction of WebAR, which stands to change the way that consumers discover, engage with, and consume content and products alike.

What Is WebAR?

WebAR is defined as augmented reality experiences that can be accessed in a web browser as opposed to an app. WebAR is the technology that powers native AR capabilities in Apple (ARKit) and Android (ARCore) devices. Unlike Snapchat filters, which require a user to be within the app, experiences built for WebAR may be triggered and viewed within the browser, creating a more seamless experience for users. Further, experiences that are started on a desktop may be continued on a mobile device or tablet by leveraging a trigger viewed on the desktop.

Some of the brands using WebAR for campaigns or shopping experiences include Lowe’s, Home Depot, Kinder, and Goodr, showing that brands across verticals have found success in this arena. Let’s look at how a growing contingent of brands will leverage WebAR.

How Does WebAR Affect Ecommerce?

Ecommerce has grown exponentially over the last two years, far exceeding what were already promising expectations in the evolution of how consumers make purchases. But while growth from necessity would accept the standard quo for consumer experience, consumers have indicated that they will make experience a priority, and that the brands who deliver will see the benefits of this immense growth.

In fact, 88% of consumers interviewed expected brands and retailers to accelerate digital initiatives due to the effects of COVID-19, and 87% of brands expected to compete on customer experience in 2021. With the large majority of consumers viewing the buying experience as important as the product itself, it is not surprising that many brands have taken these expectations to heart.

For brands who have taken the initiative to drive digital experiences forward, the effort has paid off. According to data from Adobe, brands who deliver a better buying experience drive 2x the average order value. When it comes to using augmented reality in ecommerce, the results are just as impressive. Home Depot saw AR users convert 2x as frequently as non AR users, while eyewear brand Bolle saw 85% more new users on their website and a 456% sales lift after a campaign with Google Swirl, Google’s AR enabled search results.

The success of WebAR has also prompted platforms to launch more native AR capabilities, as users demand access to these experiences more frequently. Pinterest has released home and beauty “virtual try-ons” while Facebook has more heavily invested in their Spark AR tools. While these are not powered by WebAR, the increased investment by platforms who aim to generate shopping activity through their platform shows that the availability and interest in AR enabled shopping is shaping how ecommerce evolves.

How To Create A WebAR Experience

Like many web based experiences, there are several ways to create a WebAR experience. The choice of which method to go with is dependent on a brand’s needs from the experience, as well as time and resource availability. The choice of ecommerce platform may also affect the methods available for deploying AR.

Custom coded solutions offer the greatest flexibility in terms of design, features, and capabilities, but also require the greatest amount of time and resources. For brands looking to leverage AR in the near term, a custom solution may come at a higher cost than can be justified.

For those who leverage an ecommerce platform such as Shopify, there may be an opportunity to leverage a feature built into the platform or accessed through a widget. These solutions allow brands to quickly launch an AR experience on their site, but are more limited in the features and capabilities that a user can access as compared to a custom solution. Of these limitations, the ability to view a newly configured product with the specific user’s choices is often missing. This is because many in-platform capabilities use a single 3D model to create the AR experience. That model may or may not change based on a user’s input.

Between a custom solution and the more basic widget approach is a semi custom experience built with Dopple. The Dopple platform allows clients to quickly build, upload, and manage 3D assets to be used across digital platforms, delivering exceptional 3D and web based AR experiences.

Dopple offers much of the customization gained from a custom coded solution, without the heavy lift from developers or brand teams to design and launch an experience from scratch. Whether clients choose to deploy 3D and AR through our direct API integration, or with Visual Component, a new WebAR experience can be launched in a matter of weeks and seamlessly maintained and updated as needed.

Want to see how WebAR can grow your ecommerce business? Talk to a visual commerce expert today!

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