The first business of Alibaba Group, Alibaba.com is the leading platform for global wholesale trade serving millions of buyers and suppliers around the world.
Through Alibaba.com, small businesses can sell their products to companies in other countries.
Sellers on Alibaba.com are typically manufacturers and distributors based in China and other manufacturing countries such as India, Pakistan, the United States and Japan.
This article on augmented reality was written by Brendan Scully.
Just a few years ago, it’s unlikely you would have considered virtual and augmented reality technology as anything but science fiction. It was more likely you’d see AR in Star Trek movies, and not at your local electronics store. Not anymore. Now that major companies like Google, Facebook, and Sony have announced or launched VR platforms, it’s clear these technologies are not a thing of science-fiction fantasies. Skeptics need only look to the immense success of Pokemon Go! to realize consumers are ready for the experiences VR and AR offer.
In fact AR and VR (augmented reality and virtual reality) were a popular topic of discussion at CES, held earlier this month.
Customers today are expecting enhanced customer experiences when they shop in-store. But e-tailers wanting to offer their customers innovative e-commerce services should also pay attention. Augmented reality can enhance your customers’ experiences and give your business a boost over your competition. Here are just a few of the possibilities AR offers to e-commerce companies.
Augmented reality will dramatically change the way consumers shop. For example, imagine a consumer is browsing online, looking for new furnishings for their new house. But they’re hesitating before making a purchase, because they’re not sure how a particular item would actually look in their home.
Using AR technology, they can superimpose a scale image of that item onto an image of their shelf or nightstand. This not only offers them a better sense of whether it’s something they’d want to buy, but it makes them more confident about making the purchase.
A Sephora app takes a similar approach, allowing users to take selfies and apply virtual cosmetics, instead of heading to the mall to try them in person. Other cosmetics companies have followed suit, including major brands, such as L’Oreal and Yves Rocher.
One of the major obstacles e-commerce companies face is convincing shoppers a product is perfect for them. In person, they can test it before buying it. Online, they have to evaluate an item based on a few pictures and a description. Augmented reality for e-commerce will change that, allowing customers to virtually ‘try before they buy’.
E-commerce platforms offer consumers a wealth of useful information, including customer reviews and information about related products. And, AR technology can bring this holistic digital experience to brick-and-mortar stores.
Shoppers can view a product through their smartphones, using an app which would recognize the item and provide all the important details available online. This also gives retailers an opportunity to show shoppers similar products they may be interested in. LEGO already uses a similar method, enabling customers browsing in their stores to scan a product in a kiosk, and see what the finished project would look like.
It could also help businesses bring more customers into their stores. In the future, it’s possible to imagine a retailer launching a service in which an AR “concierge” guides customers through the store, directing them to merchandise they might enjoy.
It’s important for businesses using augmented reality to treat it as more than just an entertainment tool. To use it effectively, they need to make their AR services truly valuable to customers. Being able to “use” a product from the comfort of your own home isn’t merely a bonus feature—it leverages AR to provide consumers with a legitimately useful experience.
However, don’t dismiss the novelty of augmented reality. While customers may take it for granted in the future, today it’s still new and exciting. Using AR will help you stand apart from your competitors. If five different companies sell the same products, but only one allows shoppers to virtually interact with those products via AR, that business has an advantage over the competition.
Plus, augmented reality can make it easier for consumers to customize their shopping experiences. For example, Converse offers an application allowing users to try on shoes from home. Customers simply point their phones at their foot, and an image of the footwear appears on their phone screens, so they can see what the footwear looks like. Other clothing brands use a similar technique, letting customers switch between styles and colors, without ever having to remove any clothing.
Virtual and augmented reality will make online shopping more personal, unique, and exciting. And there are already a lot of AR products available on the Alibaba.com website. The businesses that pay attention to these technologies will be the ones most likely to benefit.
Bio: Brendan Scully began his career as an undergraduate research assistant at Dartmouth’s Tiltfactor Labs, focusing on the potential for humanistic design in Augmented Reality. Now he is an Augmented Reality Producer and currently CEO of Scully Creative Labs LLC based in Brooklyn, New York where he oversees a portfolio of internal and client-sponsored product development initiatives. Follow us on Twitter: @bscully.
This article is adapted from one that originally appeared on SmallBizDaily.com
Photo courtesy: iStock/Thinkstock