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An Introduction to AR and VR for B2C Ecommerce

Gillian Mays
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With today’s tech-savvy customers, it’s no longer enough to just sell products on a simple website. Instead, companies need to find a way to create a digital experience platform that can engage them on multiple levels. Building a virtual reality and augmented reality ecommerce strategy is a cutting-edge way to accomplish this.

The good news is that AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) can be more than flashy gimmicks. They can enable you to immerse your audience in a digitalized world centered around your brand. By knowing how to leverage these mediums to serve your business, you can craft a customer journey that will keep users coming back for more.

What are AR and VR?

You’re probably familiar with AR and VR as general concepts: AR refers to overlays of technology in the real world, while VR builds an entirely digital landscape. However, both of these are closely associated with the entertainment industry. This is largely thanks to the popularity of games such as Pokémon Go.

A hand holding a phone with an AR image of a Pokemon overlayed on a garden.

Pokémon Go took the world by storm, combining AR technology with the beloved gaming franchise.

However, it’s not just fun and games. These approaches can be used in a variety of ways. You can consider Google Maps as an example. This program offers users the opportunity to view locations in a 360-degree space.

Additionally, AR and VR are accessible even without high-end headsets. While you can use this tech, many users make do with just their desktop or phone. As a result, your potential audience might be bigger than you think!

A few ecommerce websites have already embraced this technology. Sephora’s make-up try-on app, for instance, allows users to overlay cosmetics on images of themselves. As it becomes more advanced, it could potentially eliminate the need for customers to go into stores at all, revolutionizing the online shopping experience.

Finally, statistics suggest that virtual and augmented reality ecommerce applications are set to see a renaissance: worldwide spending in this industry is projected to reach a staggering $72.8 billion by 2024. That means it likely won’t be constrained to the entertainment sector for long. With this growing popularity, it might be time to consider VR and AR options for your company.

How to use AR and VR for your B2C business

If the concept of AR and VR technologies seem intimidating, you’re not alone! Knowing how to best incorporate them into an established strategy can seem like a tall task. Here are a few engaging strategies to help you nail your next campaign.

Create a virtual environment

Online shopping is a popular pastime, but sometimes it leaves something to be desired when it comes to immersion. Users are typically constrained to the one-way relationship between them and a traditional website. AR and VR can broaden their horizons with virtual environments.

Virtual environments are digital landscapes that your customers can move around in. Adding a feature like this can help make online shopping a more intuitive experience. One example of this is with a fully digital store. Instead of merely seeing a list of your products, they can instead browse through them as if they were at an actual store. For example, Tommy Hilfiger did this its Pool Party project:

Tommy Hilfiger's virtual store, with swimsuits hanging on the walls and a pop-up with a model wearing one in the middle.

Shoppers can navigate the Pool Party's 3D environment to browse the products.

This can be especially useful if you’re an online-only business with no physical presence to speak of. Nevertheless, you don’t have to build an entire environment to reap these benefits. AR is also an option that can help you perfect your visual commerce strategy.

For example, Nike offers an app that analyzes the user's feet to determine shoe size. It also lets those users see an image of what that shoe will look like on their feet. This helps to provide a smartphone-friendly digital environment with highly personalized aspects.


Our specialists can help you take the first steps towards using AR and VR for your ecommerce needs. Reach out today!

Add social elements

One benefit of virtual and augmented reality ecommerce is that it expands a customer’s connections beyond a one-way website window. However, it also means that the connection between your brand and customers isn’t the only one available: you can also help customers connect with one another. Given that 46% of people find out about new products from friends and family, enhancing this aspect of the shopping experience can build on existing benefits.

Providing users with the opportunity to interface can take the digital experience to the next level. Plus, chatrooms and multiplayer games mean this has been an innate AR/VR feature from the beginning – so the technology is already there and your users might well be expecting it.

For example, consider holding virtual events where you promote your products. The VR aspect will allow your visitors to get up close and personal with whatever you’re selling, while they’ll also be able to talk with fellow attendees or even your sales team. The result is an experience closely related to what they might see in real life, as YesAuto’s car show demonstrates:

A large open virtual reality environment where a woman in a ball gown stands surrounded by cars.

YesAuto's virtual environment allowed users to interact with cars in a realistic way.

It doesn’t just have to be real-time interaction that optimizes your conversions, either. You probably already gather user reviews for your products. If you’re using a headless system, you can easily repurpose that content by moving it over to the VR/AR realm. For example, users might be able to access that information by interacting with the product in the virtual space. That way, they can instantly see what fellow shoppers think.

Gamify your content

We’ve covered how AR/VR is well-known as an entertainment medium. There’s no need to abandon this reputation entirely to serve your ecommerce goals! On the contrary, offering what people expect can be a simple way to introduce your brand in a familiar context.

You might already gamify your shop with elements like a loyalty program or daily deals. Just carry that over into the AR/VR sphere. Consider awarding rewards points to users who interact with your virtual environment. This will attract more people to your virtual store to see exactly what you have to offer.

You could also personalize these experiences with user avatars. This can be especially effective if you’re already using social elements that allow users to see each other. Certain actions can award different customization options for these avatars, thus encouraging more engagement.

You could also lean into it even more. For example, some stores offer access to daily deals through mediums like virtual scratch-off cards that reveal unique discount codes. Consider expanding this to AR/VR realms with physical interactions - that is, users will actually have to physically make the scratch-off motions to get their discounts. You could even offer mini-games related to your brand! These can make for a more memorable experience, thus advertising your deals more effectively.

Key takeaways

When it comes to omnichannel publishing, virtual and augmented reality ecommerce is emerging as a creative way to engage more users. Current strategies such as creating branded environments, encouraging social connections, and gamification already dovetail nicely into virtual worlds. Getting into the trend now can both reap current benefits and set you apart from the competition as a cutting-edge company that’s ready to offer the most relevant experience possible to their customers.

An agile content hub is a perfect way to incorporate AR and VR into your ecommerce strategy. Our specialists can help you get started!