Everyone knows how brilliant and compelling Augmented Reality is and can be. Ever since Pokemon Go exploded on the scene, countless minds have been percolating on ways to improve end-user experiences. Engineers, designers, managers and marketers alike are coming up with cooler and more creative ways to entice and improve user experiences.


Who can forget seeing the whale in the auditorium or the dinosaur on the basketball court for the first time?


Not surprisingly, many marketing and operations professionals quickly understood how powerful Augmented Reality can be. However, for many small to mid-sized businesses, the idea of using Augmented Reality to increase traffic or improve operations seems like a distant concept which is probably somewhat out of reach. This line of thinking prevents many business owners from realizing the reality of what this technology can bring to their business.

Some eye-popping truths about Augmented Reality include the following insights from a 2016 study by Retail Perceptions:

  • 61% of all shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer Augmented Reality over those that don’t.
  • 47% of shoppers already use Augmented Reality as part of their purchasing decisions.
  • 55% of all shoppers say using Augmented Reality makes shopping fun!
  • 40% of shoppers would be willing to pay more for a product if they could experience and try it with Augmented Reality.
  • A whopping 72% of shoppers say they have purchased items they weren’t planning on buying specifically because of the assistance and experience of Augmented Reality.


There are many other interesting statistics and facts in the report, but the bottom line is that Augmented Reality provides significantly better traffic, improved sell-through rates and obvious savings in operational costs (imagine cutting your returns by 40% in the first month?). These are no longer high hopes or abstract dreams – many companies are prospering right now because of even the simplest AR strategies. And the really good news in all of this? Now even small to mid-sized retailers, with tight budgets and strategies based on cost-effectiveness, can benefit and prosper from this technology as well.


So the next logical question is, “How could my small eCommerce store possibly afford this?”


I’m sure you’re thinking that there just isn’t room in the budget for things like this in my business. In the traditional approach of native applications (a program which must be installed on the user’s device), you’d probably be correct. The average cost of a customer Augmented Reality application these days ranges from $50,000 to $75,000.


However, advancements in web technology combined with some innovation by companies like 247 Labs are bringing about the biggest game changer since cellphone plans of less than $50 per month! That’s right – now Augmented Reality experiences are within reach of any web store or business and therefore available for all of your clients!


When we discuss the high costs, we also mention the keys to why augmented reality is so expensive even though the uses are so similar in many cases. First, each application (or program) is custom developed specifically for the company which will use it. Even if they are developing cross-platform (support for multiple operating systems and device types), the apps are still recreated almost from scratch every time. This results in hundreds of man-hours of work which is passed on in financial costs to the sponsor of the app. The second issue is that these are native applications which must be installed in the end-users device. This ultimately adds more man-hours of development time while the engineers consider device impacts on app performance, and conversely the impact of the app on the device’s performance.


I hope you are still reading because now I will get to the good part. These historical barriers to entry into a technology which can immediately transform your business, have been all but eliminated.


“How is that”, you ask?


The advent and coming of age of web-based Augmented Reality is the answer. Thanks to advances in technology and infrastructure, it is now possible to provide your customers with an augmented reality experience of your products without having to develop a custom app or even require them to install anything on their local device! Furthermore, they can launch it directly from your site which means you don’t need to update thousands of devices with your software installed on them every time you add a new product, SKU or service!


The greatest part of Web-Based Augmented Reality is the impact on cost. Because of the very nature of the technology, development companies are able to start providing “Off-the-Shelf” programs which require little to no customization. This software can be easily offered as plug-ins for all of today’s popular eCommerce development platforms or even as an add-on for the custom-built website. But the true impact is that the economy of scale reduces the cost of the AR software to a level that almost any eCommerce operator can afford it and offer the experience and benefits to their customers. Thus making it easy and affordable to reap the benefits mentioned at the beginning of this article.


All of this is not to say that entry into Augmented Reality is free. There are costs for the base software (or plugin) which can range from a few thousand dollars to start to a few hundred dollars per month for use of the software and support. It is also true that 3D images of your products will still need to be produced and there is certainly a cost involved in that. We will go deeper into how to navigate and even mitigate those costs in part 3 of this series where we will also provide some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of Augmented Reality in your eCommerce business.


In our next article, we will go deeper into the benefits that Web-Based Augmented Reality provides to end users. We hope that you’ll come back for that, as the article will help reinforce how using this technology will make your shoppers more loyal, and more likely to purchase.


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