Shopify augmented reality: how to get started

By Cristina Ferrandez

Shopify is no stranger to augmented reality (AR). The subscription-based ecommerce platform first launched Shopify augmented reality and 3D features in 2018, back when these technologies were almost exclusively the territory of large organisations with massive budgets. 

By extending these features to all merchants, Shopify made it easier for SMBs to compete in a saturated online market — something that some of the world’s most influential people have applauded. Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “I’m a big fan of Shopify. I love the fact that their focus is on democratising technology for entrepreneurs that are largely artisans and bringing their products to market so that these merchants can focus on what they are great at.” 

Now, more than ever, Shopify retailers can’t afford to overlook 3D and AR technologies. Between March and April 2020 alone, Shopify saw the number of stores created through the platform grow by 62%

In the digital race for the consumer, the more innovative brand wins. According to Shopify, storefronts that utilise 3D and AR features see a 2x increase in the conversion rate. Similarly, products with 3D and AR content have been proven to experience a 94% conversion lift.

Why 3D and AR for Shopify?

There are many reasons why merchants should use Shopify augmented reality features to bring their products to life. 

3D models help build brand loyalty and generate higher conversions

3D models are photorealistic representations of a brand’s products. Unlike 2D images and videos that lack a “touch and feel” experience, 3D models make it possible for customers to virtually interact with an item from a brand’s catalogue. 

With 3D models, customers can visualise products in a much more detailed way than with traditional product imagery. They can zoom in and out, turn the item around, and see it from all sides and directions. 

One ecommerce website that has had great success with 3D models is the women’s high fashion and handbag brand Rebecca Minkoff. Noticing that their customer service team was constantly answering questions about how the brand’s products looked and felt, the company decided to add 3D models of its handbags to its product pages. 

This instantly gave customers a better idea of what a particular handbag looked like. Customers could click and drag a 3D model of a handbag that caught their eye to see it from every angle and zoom in and out to determine its quality, structure, texture, and shape, among other things. 

The results were astounding. Rebecca Minkoff discovered that 3D models helped shoppers foster a deeper connection both with its products and the brand overall. In fact, customers that interacted with a 3D model of an item were almost 50% more likely to add it to the cart and nearly 30% more likely to make a purchase.

Augmented reality increases customer confidence and reduces returns

Once a brand has built 3D models of its product catalogue, it can then create AR visualisation experiences. Rather than just seeing products in more detail on their screens, with AR, customers can overlay 3D models onto the real world from their browser or app.

To go back to our previous example, when customers shop on Rebecca Minkoff’s mobile site, they can also visualise handbags in front of them through Shopify augmented reality. According to the brand, when users do so, they are 65% more likely to make a purchase. 

But it’s not just fashion companies who can benefit from Shopify augmented reality features. The bicycle company Pure Cycles says that thanks to AR, customers shopping online no longer have to read a long specs list to make an informed purchase. Instead, they can overlay a bike onto their room and examine all of the features “in-person”. 

However, because most 3D models today are accurate down to the millimetre, AR is especially useful for customers that want to get a better sense of a product’s size and whether or not it will fit into their space. 

For example, one of Pure Cycle’s recently released electric bikes was more compact than usual. It was hard to get this feature across in photos, but through AR, customers could see exactly how the bike would fit inside their garage or apartment. 

Similarly, AR helped the eco-friendly stroller company Bumbleride reduce customer inquiries about stroller dimensions. Shoppers that want to determine if a stroller will fit through their front door, in the hallway, or their car can ‘place’ a stroller in their environment to see for themselves rather than relying on text-based measurements. 

Bumbleride’s use of 3D and AR technology resulted in a 21% increase on time-on-page and a 33% higher conversion rate.

AR not only increases conversions but also drastically reduces returns — something that is getting more costly for companies. In 2020, returns cost US-based retailers over $428 billion. The main reason people send products back is that items do not match their descriptions. When customers can preview a product in AR, they have more information to make better informed purchasing decisions. 

For the dog travel crate brand Gunner Kennels, not being able to show customers what their crates look like in the real world was one of the main reasons shoppers were returning products. 

However, after implementing 3D/AR into its product pages, which allowed pet owners to set a crate beside their dog to ensure their furry friend would fit in it, the company reduced its returns by 5%.

How can Shopify merchants get started with 3D and AR? 

Previously, Shopify merchants that wanted to take advantage of 3D and AR features had to use multiple apps, which created a complicated and fragmented experience. 

Today, Shopify merchants can access all the 3D and AR features they need in a single app. This is because Poplar Studio recently launched a new app on the Shopify App Store that brings our 3D modelling and white label AR visualisation solution to all Shopify merchants. 

Our solution includes both product visualisation, which lets customers see products in their own environment—from furniture and cars to pet supplies and sports equipment—and virtual try-on, which enables shoppers to try on items—like accessories, jewellery, and clothing—before purchase. 

Here’s how the process works: 

  1. You install the 3D/AR Production Visualisation app
  2. We turn your existing product assets into 3D models
  3. We embed our Product Visualisation unit into your Shopify store pages
  4. You manage your 3D catalogue through our Content Management System (CMS)

Shopify augmented reality and 3D experiences

With 75% of people now expecting retailers to provide AR experiences, Shopify merchants need to invest in 3D and AR technology to keep up with this demand. 

However, besides satisfying consumer needs, 3D and AR can also help businesses increase customer engagement and conversion rates and reduce returns. Unsurprisingly, the value of AR is predicted to grow from $14 billion in 2020 to $89 billion by 2026.

Although getting started with 3D and AR may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Today, implementing 3D and AR into your Shopify store is easier than ever, thanks to our new 3D/AR Product Visualisation app. 

Starting at just $49 a month and available through the Shopify app store, you can begin the process of creating AR experiences in minutes. Sign up for your 28-day free trial today or contact us for more information.

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