As big as ecommerce has become with worldwide sales of $123.7B in the first quarter alone, there’s still one huge disconnect—how to seamlessly bridge the physical shopping experience of a brick and mortar with the speed and convenience of shopping online.
Augmented and virtual reality has been getting a lot of press over the past 12 months with the promise of completely transforming the way we shop. Yet it still seems like widespread adoption by online merchants and online shoppers is a long way off which for me is more than a little puzzling.
The tools are already there to create a seamless shopping experience. Powerful mobile technology combined with blazing fast internet connectivity and crystal clear image resolution. Yet even the largest online retailers still rely on static thumbnails with little or now chance to truly try a product online before you buy.
Today I saw a few tweets from Tobi Lütke, CEO of Shopify that really caught my attention. If you’re not familiar with Shopify, they’ve gone from one of the first ecommece software providers to one of the biggest and most innovative ecommerce platforms on the planet. From the very beginning, they’ve pushed the envelope to think about ecommerce beyond just building websites. Tobi's tweets definitely didn't disappoint.
For the past few years, it turns out Shopify has been working hard on a way to simplify shopping with AR (augmented reality) and now they’re getting really close anticipating a fall 2018 launch.
With the new technology, consumers on iOS 12 this fall will have AR Quick Look — a feature that allows products to be previewed in AR directly from Safari. Best of all, Shopify figured out a way to make the functionality available without requiring users to download yet another app—an absolute deal breaker if you want to scale up quickly.
If an online retailer’s site contains product images that links to a specific file type (usdz file), a badge will appear in the upper right corner of the image. When shoppers tap on the badge, it will open AR Quick Look and let consumers see the product exactly as it would look on their book shelf, kitchen table, etc.
Shopify’s also working on backend support such as identifying partners that can assist with 3D modeling to help bring your products to life—virtually.
Imagine a completely immersive shopping experience. One where someone can visit your online store, find a product they like, see exactly what it would like in their space in real time, and then make a purchase with just one click using Apple Pay.
Ecommerce has relied on static, one-dimensional product thumbnails for far too long. Especially when the technology is there to do so much more. With augmented reality and companies like Shopify, ecommerce and online shopping are definitely going to get a lot more interesting. If you're currently running the iOS 12 beta, you can check out the new AR shopping experience on a live Shopify store: https://shop.magnolia.com/collections/arkit.
Stay tuned. This is only the beginning.