AR Technology Empowers Smart Shopping

According to a research report on AR application scenarios, AR shopping can solve common problems in traditional shopping models, enhance customers’ experience with products, and increase shopping satisfaction. The application of AR on the JD platform has increased repurchase rates by 12.8%, reduced return rates by 15%, and increased effective order conversion rates by 19.2% [1]. Given the potential of AR technology, China has been increasingly focusing on the AR industry and has introduced a series of policies related to AR, which have greatly promoted the application and development of AR technology and clarified the prospects of the AR market. For example, the “Implementation Plan for Cultivating and Constructing Beijing as an International Consumer Center City (2021-2025)”[2] mentions one of the important tasks is to promote new digital consumption scenarios, aiming to build smart stores, smart blocks, and smart business districts. It emphasizes the application of experiential consumption scenarios such as AR virtual try-on and VR virtual shopping, gradually realizing the digitization of core business operations, digital management of operations, and smart consumption scenarios in business districts, thereby promoting the transformation of traditional business districts into experiential, participatory, and interactive ones. The introduction of these policies has created a favorable environment for the application of AR technology in the field of smart shopping.

AR Technology Enhances Augmented Reality Shopping Experience

AR technology allows consumers to understand the appearance and functionality of products better, enhancing their “immersion” and “enjoyment” in the shopping experience, and increasing their confidence in making purchases. For example, Burberry has launched an online AR try-on feature on its WeChat mini-program and official website. Combining high-performance 3D rendering with AR foot tracking technology recreates the offline try-on experience for users, effectively increasing the brand’s sales conversion. As shown in Figure 1, after clicking the AR try-on button, the user’s phone camera will be activated and display a real-time virtual image of the shoes being tried on, allowing for movement and rotation of the virtual shoes to be viewed from multiple angles and perspectives. The mini-program try-on leverages WeChat’s massive user base and natural social attributes, forming social fission and disseminating and acquiring new customers through communities and social relationships. On the other hand, the AR try-on experience on the web can provide users with real-time experiential effects and has a natural advantage in cross-platform capabilities, efficiently running on various web browsers and even integrating with platforms like Taobao, empowering various e-commerce clients to improve marketing efficiency, expanding the brand coverage and increasing user engagement.

Figure 1. Burberry AR try-on service

AR Technology Supports Personalized Services

With the help of AR technology, businesses can provide personalized recommendation based on consumers’ shopping history, preferences, and needs. For example, AR technology can display the most suitable clothing styles and colors for consumers in a virtual fitting room based on their body size and preferences. This personalized recommendation and customized service not only enhances the shopping experience but also increases customer satisfaction. In addition, makeup brands can use AI recognition and AR face tracking technology to recommend suitable makeup products to users, creating a personalized AR try-on feature. For instance, the Sephora mobile application demonstrates its outstanding virtual makeup features, as shown in the cover image. Moreover, AR technology also realizes a more hygienic and environmentally friendly shopping experience, eliminating users’ concerns about hygiene.

Table 1 shows the advantages of AR smart shopping compared to regular shopping in different aspects. AR shopping provides consumers with a richer and more convenient shopping experience through immersive experiences, personalized customization, and interactive participation.

AdvantagesAR Smart ShoppingRegular Shopping
Shopping ExperienceOverlay virtual products in the real world for real-time observation and experienceReliance on observation and experience of actual products themselves
Personalized CustomizationProvide rich, personalized shopping experiences based on users’ characteristicsLimited personalized choices
Interactive ParticipationInteract with virtual products to increase engagement and loyaltyLimited interactivity  
Product ComparisonSimultaneously view multiple products and compare features and pricesSimultaneously view multiple products and compare features and prices
Enhanced Purchase Decision Provide more information and interactive experiencesLimited information and experiences  
ConvenienceShop anywhere and anytimeLimited to physical stores or specific times
Visual Product DisplayComprehensive display of products from multiple perspectivesLimited by actual display and presentation
Enhanced Virtual RealityExpand the visual effects of real-world productsDependent on natural light and the actual environment
Innovative shopping experienceProvide novel shopping experiences that pique users’ curiosityTraditional shopping experience
Table 1. Comparison of AR Smart Shopping and Regular Shopping

AR Technology Empowers Enterprise Digital Transformation and Revenue Growth

A survey conducted by Deloitte and Snap indicates that the AR shopping market size can exceed US$100 billion, with a user base of over 100 million people [3]. If companies make good use of AR technology, it can bring considerable economic benefits to them. In addition to creating immersive shopping experiences, increasing consumer engagement, and enhancing the likelihood of purchase, businesses can also use AR technology to showcase products, allowing consumers to observe and experience them in real time. Companies can even use AR technology for internal training and education, allowing employees to undergo training and simulated operations in a virtual world to improve training effectiveness. These AR applications can provide unique shopping and interactive experiences, attracting consumer interest and attention, and promoting sales and revenue growth for companies.

Of course, there are challenges in the application of AR in enterprises:

1. Technological Cost: The development and application of AR technology require high costs, which may be burdensome for small and medium-sized enterprises. With the popularization and maturity of technology, costs are expected to decrease gradually.

2. User Experience: The success of AR technology is closely related to user experience. Companies must design and provide high-quality AR applications to ensure users have a satisfactory experience and are willing to continue using them.

3. Privacy and Security: AR technology involves a large amount of user data and personal information. Companies must ensure the security and privacy protection of this data to avoid potential risks and issues.

In the future, companies need to weigh the costs and benefits when applying this technology, while paying attention to user experience and data security, to ensure the successful application of AR technology and achieve improved business performance.


[1] 2022年AR應用場景行業研究報告

[2] 北京培育建設國際消費中心城市實施方案(2021-2025年)

[3] Snap Consumer AR Global Report

The work described in this article was supported by InnoHK initiative, The Government of the HKSAR, and Laboratory for AI-Powered Financial Technologies.
(AIFT strives but cannot guarantee the accuracy and reliability of the content, and will not be responsible for any loss or damage caused by any inaccuracy or omission.)

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