Companies have tried to address this persisting doubt around online shopping by offering favourable return policies to the customers. Customers are allowed to return a product after a few days, free of cost and with pick up from home facility, without any hassle.
While these policies are favourable for customers, they do harm the retailers. The retailers have to bear the costs of processing free returns, which affects their profitability.
Online shopping is an uncertain experience. Everyone, no matter how frequently they shop through online stores, has a hint of doubt when buying something new online. The only time one wins over that doubt is when they experience the product first hand, whether it is clothing, furniture, eyeglasses, or any other product.
According to the statistics, on average, 30% of online orders are returned. In contrast, only 8.89% of orders are returned in Brick & Mortar stores.
Since the simplest answer is usually the right one, one can conclude that the drop in returns in offline retail happens due to their ability to offer the customers the opportunity to “Try Before Buy”. The offline shoppers can experience the product first hand, which attaches a sense of certainty to the shopping experience.
Online retailers have identified this and with the help of advancements in technologies like Augmented & Virtual Reality, more and more companies are working on integrating these technologies in their businesses to enhance user experience.
Many online retailers have now started offering the ‘Try before Buy’ feature through apps. Online customers can now try the product virtually and make more informed purchase decisions. It enables the customers to visualize how the product will look before making the purchase.
- Lenskart launched its “3D Try on” feature on its app in 2015. This feature allowed the customers to see how they looked with different frames on.
- American shoe company Converse was an early mover in this segment. It launched an app named Sampler in 2012. The app allowed customers to try on various shoes from their catalogue and see what they would look like on their feet by simply pointing the camera at their right feet.
- California-based online jewellery startup Kollectin launched an AR feature called the “Xperience Mode” to let customers virtually try on jewellery before buying.
- IKEA, the Swedish giant in home furniture, launched its AR application in 2017 that allows users to test IKEA’s products in real-time. The app automatically scales products, based on room dimensions, with 98% accuracy.
These technologies also facilitate users to select the right size & fit for them. For instance,
- Nike launched NikeFit app in 2019. The app scans your feet, collecting 13 data points mapping your foot morphology for both feet within a matter of seconds. The technology lets you know which shoe size to pick for each of its shoes.
VR & AR provide immersive and engaging experiences to their users. This gets the users hooked on experiencing a new reality. We can see some of the companies making the most out of this:
- In 2016, Niantic in collaboration with Nintendo, released Pokemon GO, an augmented reality mobile game that took the world by storm. Its new & immersive experience made it viral as the game garnered more than 20 million active users within 7 days of its release.
- Thomas Cook, the British tour operator, gave customers a chance to see places they were about to visit. This resulted in a 190% improvement in New York excursion bookings after people tried the 5-minute version of the holiday in VR.
These technologies are also being used in marketing campaigns. They provide customers with incredibly unique experiences that lead to higher traction.
- AT&T partnered with Samsung to offer a Virtual Reality experience at 133 stores using Samsung’s GearVR to send shoppers on a virtual Carnival Cruise.
- During New York Fashion Week in 2018, guests of Moschino and H&M fashion show were able to use an AR app to scan outfits on the runway and purchase them on the spot.
One of the things that are holding back these technologies is the lack of hardware available to the general public (not many people own VR headsets). One can pin this on the expensive prices of these technologies. But this is now being addressed through the rise of Google Cardboard & other low-cost, low-tech solutions that transform smartphones into headsets.
Add this to the value & versatility AR & VR provide across various domains, one can only imagine the potential these technologies possess.
Add the glamour of AR & VR into your brand strategy, starting today!
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