Brands Are Examining Augmented Reality’s Impact On Ecommerce

Nowadays augmented reality is far from becoming a mass force in marketing and thus, more brands are trying their way to get customers to meet products before mobile purchases.

The shift is from using AR for its novelty effect to using the technology where it’s a good fit for a retail experience that’s increasingly happening on mobile devices. There’s also a realization that AR commerce is less about scale in these early days and more about PR, positioning and building knowledge.

Benefit Cosmetics, Speedo and Lego are among a flurry of advertisers weaving AR into their commerce strategies to Digiday.

Lou Bennett, Head of Marketing at Benefit Cosmetics commented,

AR should have a big say in the future of commerce and the wider retail industry given how difficult high street stores are finding it now. The brands who will win be those that are able to integrate offline and online mediums well to provide moments in shopping that are experiential. We’ve not launched the AR tool with any noise yet because it’s really important to understand how people are using it so we can make tweaks where needed. The app is our biggest investment in AR for the last 12 months.

The cosmetics company is developing an AR feature within its “Wow Brows”, loyalty app that shows users what they will look like with different eyebrows before they shape their real ones. Once a look has been decided, the person can either buy the products needed to produce the look directly from the app or they can head in-store and hand it to one of the brand’s experts who will then source the products.

It’s still being tested 18 months after it launched, with Benefit Cosmetics focusing early updates on the US.

Bennett said there were no immediate plans to launch an AR product on either Instagram or Snapchat, but did not rule out investments in the long term. It’s a similar stance to swimwear manufacturer Speedo, which is set to launch an in-store iPad service for shoppers to virtually try on goggles later this year. Other brands like Island Records and StudioCanal, however, prefer to stick with the platforms as its less upfront investment.

It’s free to use the tools on Facebook or Snapchat to come up with lenses and camera effects, respectively. Building an AR-enabled app costs money and takes time.

Laurie Ainley, Chief Technology Officer at AR startup Poplar said,

The in-app route will give companies better performance from a technological standpoint versus using the tools from the platforms because they’re able to use the phone’s processing power, but the platforms offer so much more immediate use cases because the development barriers aren’t there.


Lego is using AR to sell adult Lego Wear apparel. The company has made what it’s calling an AR store, accessible via a Snapchat Snapcode, that once scanned takes people to an AR store where they can buy the streetwear line.

It was a daylong pop-up, doubling as a testing ground for people’s appetite to buy directly from a Snapchat Lens created by We Are Social.

Lea Sandell, Social Media Innovation Lead at Lego Group also commented,

Our core business will always revolve around physical play and the idea of using your imagination to put bricks together in creative ways, but we see digital and things like the AR-enabled pop-up shop as an extension of that, so we are keen to do this experiment with Kabooki for their clothing line launch.

As well said before, AR is more about PR and if used correctly, it can contribute more than it actually is expected in ecommerce industry.

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