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Determining Which Products Are a Good Fit for AR Shopping Experiences

Updated: Feb 27



the Nvzn Easy ARt Shopify App shows preview of how artwork looks on your wall

© 2024 Nvzn


An executive from an ecommerce site design agency recently asked me what kind of products benefit most from Nvzn’s virtual previews for the web. She was aware of augmented reality’s (AR) power to improve conversion rate and decrease returns, and was considering recommending that one of her premiere clients adopt AR to enhance the shopping experience on their site.


My first intuition was to start listing the obvious use cases like kitchen sets, floor lamps and patio loungers. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that a great deal of our clients’ products have use cases that didn’t necessarily occur to us such as cabinetry hardware, kitchen faucets and ride-on toys to name a few. There are myriad products that sell better when shoppers can envision them in situ in and around their homes, but how can a merchant know when it’s advantageous to implement our services for their products?


Researchers have studied consumer purchasing behavior for decades and this has resulted in a number of innovations in marketing, advertising, packaging, product placement and store design. This has evolved in the age of ecommerce to encompass product information, dynamic pricing strategies, sustainability factors and convenience. At the end of the day, the decision to purchase a product is influenced by a complex interplay of factors that are unique to each individual consumer.


Time and again our customers’ data has demonstrated that online shoppers who engage in virtual product preview experiences are at least 35% more likely to make a purchase and at least 30% less likely to make a return. These figures vary from merchant to merchant and product to product. So what guidance could I provide to the ecommerce agency to ensure success for their clients? 


Factors Influencing AR Shopping Experience Effectiveness

I have distilled the relevant factors down to four dimensions that can be used to estimate the effectiveness of virtual product previews for ecommerce. Those are (in order of importance):


Aesthetic Taste Shoppers have the strongest response to virtual previews for products that have high aesthetic value because these are more emotional purchases. Most home decor fits into this category as these are things we choose to surround ourselves with every day and signal our taste and sensibilities to others. Helping shoppers see how these products will fit into their homes and lives is super powerful.


Scale

Size and volume can be difficult for people to perceive from 2D images —  especially for larger products and items they don’t often encounter. Since mankind started trading with one another five thousand years ago we’ve relied on the ability to inspect goods up close and in person to gauge their worthiness. Ecommerce sites typically provide 2D images of products, but most humans struggle to abstract these into real world presence. The Scale problem is endemic to huge products like trampolines and above ground pools but also comes into play when picking out an end table or a lamp to put on it.


Cost

The more a product costs, the greater price weighs into the purchase decision. When comparing multiple products, the consumer needs to justify paying more for one product over another, and comparing lists of features often isn’t enough to tip the scales. When a shopper can bring the products to life and inspect them up close and in person they are more likely to see the differences that ascribes greater value to one product over another.


Familiarity

Uncertainty about a purchase is often cited as a top reason for a shopper to pass on a purchase. The less general familiarity a shopper has with a product and/or its features, the more information they will require to move them to convert. This is true for products we’ve never owned before as well as those for which there may be many options. For instance, virtual previews would serve someone well who is looking to buy their first ebike and trying to decide between different models. This factor is somewhat subjective but common sense prevails here.


Evaluating Products for AR Shopping Engagement

To illustrate the relationship between these four dimensions and the effectiveness of AR shopping experiences for improving their sales, I have scored several diverse products for each of the four qualities on a scale from 1-10. Note that my scoring is not based on empirical data but will suffice to illustrate the guidance. Different conclusions may be reached when evaluating your own products.


Toothpaste was added as a baseline example of a poor prospect for virtual previews because aesthetics and scale are non-considerations, the cost is very low, and it is a product we have all been using our entire lives and is highly familiar. At the other end of the spectrum is the garden shed which a buyer would want to look nice in their yard, is a large item that comes in many shapes and sizes, costs thousands of dollars and is likely to be a product one has never bought/owned before.

Factor

Aesthetic Taste

Scale Factor

Relative Cost

Level of Unfamiliarity

Garden Shed

7

10

8

9

Kitchen Faucet

10

6

9

6

Wall Art

10

10

8

2

E-Bike

6

5

9

10

Elliptical Trainer

4

9

9

8

Camping Tent

3

10

7

10

Coffee Table

9

8

7

3

Engagement Ring

10

1

10

2

Standing Desk

4

8

6

4

Floor Lamp

8

6

4

3

Trampoline 

2

10

6

1

Tarp     .

1

10

1

1

Apple Watch

6

1

7

5

Stereo Amplifier

2

3

10

4

Toaster

4

3

4

2

Toothpaste

1

1

1

1


I then plotted this data with a four dimensional bubble chart where Taste is displayed on the X axis, Scale on the Y axis, Cost as bubble size and Unfamiliarity as bubble color (less familiar products have higher scores and skew toward green).

AR shopping experience

In Quadrant I (upper right) are the products having the strongest relationship to taste and scale. Virtual product previews should perform well for these products regardless of their relationship to cost and familiarity. Wall art is the standout here because of the strong emotional connection people have to art making its aesthetics a “10”. Because an art purchase is usually intended to fill a certain empty space, size (scale) is super important. Of course one can buy very expensive fine art, but art sold via e-commerce tends to be of the more affordable type leading to its bubble size being more moderate. Unfamiliarity is red (low) because we all understand art’s form factor quite well, even when the image itself is novel.


Quadrant II (upper left) contains the products with a strong scale factor where aesthetics are less critical. There’s little taste consideration for a trampoline purchase as it is bought solely for its functional purpose but its very large footprint is a critical decision factor. In this quadrant, cost and familiarity do come into play. Tarp was included to illustrate how its small bubble size (cost) and red color (unfamiliarity) likely disqualify it from virtual product preview inclusion.


Quadrant III (lower left) illustrates products that are poor candidates for virtual previews. The Stereo Amplifier is an example of an expensive product that is bought for its functionality with little consideration for aesthetics, scale and familiarity. 2D images should suffice to sell this product on an ecommerce site.


In Quadrant IV (lower right) we have products where scale is of low consideration but taste is a purchase decision factor. Products in this classification should take cost and familiarity into account to determine their fitness for virtual product previews. The engagement ring is expensive, but because its scale and form factor are well understood this is likely not a good candidate. The Apple watch may be less expensive and a bit less familiar (especially to first time buyers) but an augmented reality experience that just places virtual 3D models of this product on a surface is probably not very compelling. On Nvzn’s road map is “virtual try on” capability which will change the calculus for such products.


A merchant looking to improve conversion rates and product returns can use this guidance to assess the effectiveness of Nvzn’s virtual product previews for their wares. Our services can’t help sell everything, but those products that score high across these four primary factors should be a pretty good bet. Contact us to learn more or to get your project started.


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