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How to Use Shopify Augmented Reality to Increase Conversions

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Shoppers are all too familiar with the struggle of getting an item that’s exactly like the product photo they saw online. So much so that humorous memes showcasing the blatant difference between a product photo and the “product when it arrives” are all over social media.

This hurdle is equally challenging for merchants.

With the massive doubt around online shopping meeting expectations, how can merchants convince online shoppers of the product's true, honest, and genuine nature?

In 2018, Shopify launched Shopify Augmented Reality (Shopify AR), an AR technology implementation that allows online businesses of all sizes to use augmented reality for their stores.

Shopify AR - PureCycles - Demo - GIF

Source: Shopify

Businesses can use Shopify AR to convince shoppers and website visitors of their product’s quality and true-to-life characteristics. This allows Shopify AR to improve the customer experience and increase sales from your ecommerce website.

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality

Augmented reality technology (AR) is not to be confused with virtual reality (VR).

VR creates a completely virtual environment for the user, immersing them in a new digital world. Its common applications include innovative work training and games & entertainment.

Normally, virtual headsets are required for virtual reality experiences.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, utilizes the existing physical world and adds digitally created elements to it, creating a new experience for the user.

With AR, users can move within their existing physical space and interact with the existing world in a fresh and unique way.

Google Pixel 2 Augmented Reality Sticker

Source: Droidlife

Popular examples of AR applications include Google AR stickers and AR apps and games like Pokemon GO.

What is Shopify Augmented Reality

Shopify AR uses augmented reality to showcase products to shoppers accurately and engagingly.

Shoppers can view a product (e.g., a bicycle, a tent, a pre-built work desk, etc.) and perceive its life-like dimensions within their space.

One shop that integrates ShopifyAR is EditorsKeys.

EditorsKeys Shopify AR Example GIF

Source:Shopify

Notice how they use augmented reality to allow potential customers to visualize how on-sale keyboards would look on their desks.

When shoppers see your product in their own environment, they experience an immersive experience that can help inform their purchase decisions.

Benefits of Shopify AR to Your Online Store

Shopify AR brings various benefits to Shopify businesses. These include improved shopper engagement, an improved brand experience, and increased conversions.

Improve Shopper Engagement

Augmented reality has a “fun” element to it for some users. In addition to providing a true-to-life depiction of the product, Shopify AR may engage some users who find augmented reality a novel implementation.

Furthermore, since shoppers can perceive the physical product in their space before they buy it, shoppers get an online experience that’s very similar to an in-person one.

According to the 2021 study “Augmented reality in retail and its impact on sales,” customers who used AR spent 21% more time browsing compared to a data set that didn’t include AR. The AR set also browsed 28% more products than the non-AR set.

Read more: ​​Shopify Magic: Ecommerce AI To Create Compelling Product Descriptions & More

Better Online Brand Experience

Some sources claim that only 1% of retailers eCommerce stores use augmented reality.

Despite whether or not this is close to the actual number, there’s no denying that an online store using augmented reality doesn’t come across our screens often. The ecommerce industry has yet to fully adapt to AR shopping.

So, implementing Shopify AR will help a brand stand out from its spec sheet-relying competition.

In the online retail industry, seeing the actual product “in the flesh” will resonate more with shoppers compared to solely relying on product photos and videos.

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Increased Conversions

According to the aforementioned 2021 study, customers who use AR were 20% more likely to purchase than those who didn’t use AR.

We can say that customer engagement metrics (e.g., session time, products viewed, etc.) tend to be directly proportional to conversions.

With the combined benefit of a stellar, stand-out brand experience courtesy of augmented reality, we can expect that AR may also contribute to increased brand loyalty, affinity, and return customers.

How to Implement Shopify Augmented Reality

Augmented reality on Shopify may seem like a marvel that only developer-equipped brands can pull off. But the process is much easier than one might think.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to implementing Shopify AR in your store.

Step 1: Choose a Shopify Theme that Supports Shopify AR

Make sure that the theme your shop is built on supports Shopify AR.

If the theme you’re using isn’t updated often, the theme may be missing out on some crucial Shopify features — including Shopify AR.

Merchants can’t go wrong by selecting any of the popular and updated themes from the Shopify store.

Works With The Latest Shopify Features Badge

Source: Shopify Theme Store

This includes the Shopify default Dawn theme.

Other themes that work well with Shopify AR include

Electro, a high-speed Shopify theme suited for electronics;

Empire, a Shopify-theme optimized for large products; and

Responsive, an imagery-focused Shopify theme.

After selecting a theme, test its AR functionality.

Shopify accepts .usdz and .glb file formats for the 3D models, and each model shouldn’t exceed 500 MB.

Download any 3D model online and test it with the theme to see if the theme can handle presenting 3D objects and displaying them in augmented reality.

Sketchfab is a popular site to acquire free 3D model assets.

Sketchfab 3D Model Samples

Source: Sketchfab

If the theme handles the downloaded 3D object properly, then great! It has Shopify AR enabled.

If a selected theme displays some trouble presenting augmented reality models, contact the theme developer for support.

Quick read: Shopify ChatGPT: Top 7 Ways You Can Maximize It For Your Online Store

Step 2: Decide Which Products to Create a 3D Digital Model Of

Before your product can be interacted with via Shopify AR, you’ll first need to create a digital, three-dimensional model of the product. This model will represent the actual product in the AR-created world.

Not every product will need a 3D model. Unless you can create a 3D model for each of your 100 shirts, go ahead.

But if you’re a small to medium-sized online business, 3D modeling may initially take up significant time and resources. So, it’s best to use it on products that really need it.

This includes large items, such as bicycles, dog crates, furniture, gym equipment, inflatable pools, etc.

High-detail items, such as figurines, shoes, centerpieces, and home decor may benefit from having a 3D model as well.

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Step 3: Create the 3D Model of Your Product

There are two main ways to acquire a product 3D model — getting an outsourced hand to do it or doing it yourself.

Get a 3D Modeler to Design the Product Model

There are a handful of places to look for a 3D designer. Some popular ones include:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • Google Search
  • Shopify Partners

Look for a 3D designer that fits your budget and gives them the details they need.

It’s important to note that higher-skilled hands will fetch higher rates. So, seek the help of a partner whose skills meet the complexity of the product’s form, shape, intricacy, and details.

Shopify advises providing the following information and assets to the designated designer:

  • Take photos of the product from various angles. Make sure to get it from the front, back, left, right, top, and bottom.
  • For high-detail products such as vases, chandeliers, and chess sets, it helps to take extra photos of the fine details that would be important for potential customers to be aware of.
  • Make sure that the product can be clearly seen in all photos. This means having ample lighting, whether it’s natural light or artificial light (e.g., indoor, studio).
  • For large products such as furniture, tents, or camping equipment, use a 50mm lens. For smaller to medium products, use a 70mm or 100mm lens.
  • Shopify doesn’t suggest using phone cameras. But it’s not the end of the world if that’s what you have. Higher-end phones allow users to fine-tune the focal length of their camera.
  • Provide measurements with the photos. These are crucial for an accurate augmented reality depiction of the product.

Shown below is Shopify’s recommendation on how to present the necessary information to partnered 3D artists.

Vase Taken From Different Angles

Source:Shopify

Also, don’t forget the measurements. The below numbers would ideally be filled in with their corresponding dimensions.

Vase Dimensions

Source: Shopify

Make sure to do the same for your product.

Once the designer finishes creating the 3D model file, you may test it in your AR-capable Shopify store.

Can you Create a 3D Product Model Yourself?

If you have the internal resources to create the 3D product model yourself, go for it.

Though, if you haven’t done so before, it may be challenging at first to create a 3D model.

Now, 3D modeling is a complex and meticulous process, one that we won’t have time to discuss in-depth. So, if you’re really keen on acquiring 3D modeling expertise, it’s best to look through other online resources as well.

There are multiple ways to go about creating the 3D model:

  • Creating it from scratch. Creating a model from scratch allows merchants to build their product’s AR asset from the ground up. Some companies may have used 3D modeling as part of their product prototyping. In these cases, the company would likely already have a digital 3D model of the retail product.
Photogrammetry - Taking Multiple Photos of a Plant

Source: Nuno Silva

  • Using photogrammetry. This is the more commonly used technique due to its efficiency and ease of use. With photogrammetry, powerful, specialized software stitches together multiple photos of the product in order to create an exact 3D digital replica of the product.
Tools and Software Used to Generate Product 3D Models

Merchants who wish to create the 3D model themselves should have the following items on their checklist.

Something to capture photos with.

A phone is a popular choice, but we highly suggest using a DSLR or a mirrorless. The Canon M50 is a great, all-around choice for both business and personal use. If your business doesn’t have a DSLR or mirrorless camera yet, we highly suggest getting one to take better product and marketing photos.

A photogrammetry app

to stitch the photos together to create the 3D model. If you’re using a phone, there are popular photogrammetry apps on both the App Store and Play Store that can generate 3D models using just the computing power of the phone. One popular choice would be PolyCam.

Taking Multiple Photos of the Plant Result - Photogrammetry

Source: Nuno Silva

Using 120+ photos, the PolyCam software was able to generate the 3D model shown above. It’s not yet perfect, but it’s quite the launchpad of a starting point.

A 3D modeling software

to build 3D models. If you already have a model generated by the photogrammetry app, you can import that model into a 3D modeling software to refine the model further. Maya and Blender are common choices among 3D modelers.

Merchants may immediately start creating their 3D models once they have these three tools.

Crucial Product 3D Design Tips

If you aren’t a proficient 3D designer, there are some quick and simple to take note of to significantly improve your output.

  • Use primitives. Primitives are basic shapes that can be used as starting points for your 3D model, much like a template. For example, if you want to create a 3D model for a couch, you may want to start with a rectangular basic shape.
  • Put details into it. Give attention to some necessary details when creating your model. It shouldn’t feel like a rough draft. For example, if you’re creating a 3D model for a chess set, you may want to give some detail to the knight pieces.
  • Use textures. Textures are what will make the 3D model truly seem real. This allows your Shopify website visitors to perceive items' details and materials. For example, you might want to add wood texture to furniture or cloth texture to giant plush toys.

Step 3: Integrate the 3D Model into the Online Store

Once the .usdz or .glb is made, merchants may immediately upload the files to the Shopify product manager.

From the main dashboard, navigate to the Products tab.

Products Tab Shopify Admin Panel

Click on the product you want to add the .usdz or .glb file to.

Drag and drop the 3D model file into the media box.

Shopify Media Box

Source: Yotpo

Save changes.

Once that’s done, test your site experience as a website visitor and note any changes you’d want to make.

Step 4: Optimize the Overall Website Experience

Shopify AR allows merchants to create compelling product pages, literally bringing products to life in the shopper’s own space.

However, just because you’ve integrated Shopify AR into your store doesn’t mean that engagements, session times, and conversions will magically skyrocket overnight.

There are some additional implementations you must have to have an overall more engaging Shopify site experience.

These include:

Improve Site Speed

Shopify AR may take up tremendous resources for users who don’t have the latest phones.

With this in mind, merchants must provide as seamless of an AR experience as possible.

Improving site speed is one such reliable way. Not only does it optimize the site experience for AR users, but it also has a positive effect on non-AR shoppers’ site experience, and consequently, SEO.

Here are some ways merchants can improve their site speed:

  • Get a speedy theme.
  • Compress images and videos.
  • Upgrade your hosting.
  • Declutter script and code.

Improve Product Pages

AR product experiences would likely be on their respective products’ product pages.

Apart from having an AR experience, it’s also a good idea to fill these product pages with information essential to the product.

You may still want a spec sheet, describing things such as material, dimensions, screws used, things of that nature.

To add another layer of brand uniqueness, you may use page builders to create pages and sections that your current theme wouldn’t otherwise be able to create.

Drag-and-drop page builders are intuitive and flexible apps that allow merchants tremendous creativity and freedom with their pages, allowing them to create eye-catching and high-converting pages, in addition to the AR integration that would already be there.

One such app is PageFly

Use PageFly

PageFly gives non-coding users drag-and-drop ease when designing their product pages.

Pagefly Page Builder Demonstration

Merchants can add animations to photos when, for example, clicked-on or hovered.

The app also has vast templates, fonts, colors, and other styling elements that allow merchants to create different styles of pages without needing multiple themes.

PageFly offers one free section that free users may use. This should be enough to give product pages a bit more of a “compel factor” over the competition that doesn’t use drag-and-drop page builders.

Conclusion

Once you’ve implemented Shopify AR into your Shopify store, your site becomes a whole lot more engaging. This, in turn, will reduce product returns, increase conversion rates, and improve brand affinity.

It’s also important to stay on top of your AR implementations. If there are any additional products you feel would be better experienced through AR, create digital 3D models for those products as well. Or if a product’s look has been updated, make sure the digital model reflects that change.

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