Augmented reality (AR) apps might sound futuristic, but consumers are catching onto the trend much more than you might think. About 60 percent of them prefer stores that have AR as part of the experience. Not to mention, 40 percent would pay more for your wares after experiencing it through AR.
But almost two-thirds of companies don’t even use the tech.
The question is: Is it time for you to consider augmented reality applications for your commerce strategy?
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What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is a technology that virtually places a 3D visual into a “real-world” experience. This gives the user the appearance that the virtual object is co-existing with them in the physical world.
AR is often used in gaming, bringing a more realistic experience to gamers and engaging more senses. But it’s also helpful in the shopping experience.
Think about it this way: Shopping online is limited to product photos. Occasionally, there’s a video or 360-degree image, but that’s not commonplace. Compare that to an ARexperience – one where you can see how a hat looks on your head or how a table fits in your kitchen.
That’s why some brands are incorporating the technology into their strategies. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best augmented reality apps, based on a five-star rating system from consumers.
10 Best Augmented Reality Apps in 2021
A great platform for home goods and furniture sellers, Houzz is one of the top AR apps for planning interior layouts and design. Primarily a home improvement app, Houzz has ecommerce functionality, allowing users to browse and buy products in-app.
The “View in My Room” feature uses AR technology to place products into a photo of the user’s home – using 3D technology, so the resulting image is lifelike. It even goes as far as showing what the product will look like in different lighting. Consumers can literally shop for a new couch from their couch.
2. IKEA Place
IKEA Place is another of the AR apps for iPhone and Android that’s also focused on home decor. The Swedish furniture retailer gives shoppers a chance to put their products in their homes – no assembly required.
This app looks at the bigger picture, taking into account your home’s entire floor plan to see which items will fit best where. Easy drag-and-drop functionality and the option to see different colors almost takes the fun out of the IKEA experience. (But there are still no meatballs.)
3. YouCam Makeup
Next on the list of augmented reality apps (Android and iOS for this one, too) is YouCam Makeup. Here, we move away from interior design and toward the artistry of cosmetics.
Buying makeup is typically a leap of faith – you might get to try on samples at the makeup counter, but fluorescent lighting plays tricks on the eyes and doesn’t account for typical selfie lighting conditions. But YouCam does, allowing shoppers to test makeup from tons of major brands with AR technology.
4. GIPHY World
If the real world were like GIPHY World, it’d be a lot more colorful and imaginative. This app combines animated GIFs and AR, turning photos and videos into canvasses for 3D graphics (a lot like Snapchat does).
If you’re looking to add more personality to your social media content, give GIPHY World a try. Add graphics and animated elements to product photos to give them extra flair for a social audience.
5. Google Lens
One of the AR apps for Android only, Google Lens enhances the search experience. Instead of typing in a text-based query, open the app and aim it at what you want to learn more about. Google Lens will identify the object, tell you what the text says, and even store important numbers. Oh, and it’ll tell you where to buy the object (if it’s a product for sale online). This is just one reason why it’s important to consider a visual search strategy as part of your SEO approach.
Pro tip: You can also use Google Lens from within the Google Photos apps (a hack for iOS users!) and from Google Assistant.
Back in the home goods world, yet another top AR app is Augment. The difference here is that Augment is aimed at ecommerce store owners, who can use the app to create augmented images of their products.
These assets are then primed for your own AR experience, whether that’s in your mobile app, on your website, at in-person activations, or via some other channel. It’s particularly handy for driving “field sales” – in other words, pop-up shops, farmers markets, event sales, and other temporary physical retail ventures.
ROAR is another one of the best AR apps also targeted to business owners. There are tons of ways to use it: create an AR-powered online store accessible when customers scan product packaging at home, incorporate AR into print ads, and even see which products and categories are most popular when experienced through AR.
On the consumer side, the app enhances both in-store and at-home brand experiences by providing deeper, more engaging content and information about the products they’re interested in. They can browse reviews, look at pricing, and even purchase the product in-app.
Amikasa is one of the home-furnishing AR apps only available on iOS (no Android version is currently available). Rather than focus on a single store or brand, Amikasa aggregates products from all over the web, so shoppers can create a cohesive room without visiting every store or website.
Users can even purchase items without ever leaving the app. Remember, more channels means more conversion opportunities. If you sell home goods, it could be worth getting your items listed on Amikasa.
Sure, Snapchat is a social media app known for its younger user base, fun effects, and self-destructing messages. But did you know that it’s also an AR application? Those wacky-face filters showcase AR at work.
Brands can incorporate Snapchat marketing and AR into their strategy by creating a presence and also investing in branded filters. Find out more about how to use Snapchat to promote your business.
10. Wanna Kicks
Another iOS-exclusive AR app, Wanna Kicks is narrow in its scope. Designed specifically for sneaker lovers, Wanna Kicks puts virtual versions of footwear on your feet. You can see what they actually look like if you were to wear them – from any angle.
And because this demographic is so socially driven, of course there’s a built-in option to share on social and solicit friends’ feedback.
AR gives consumers a new, multi-dimensional way to research and interact with products before making a purchase. This list is just 10 of the top augmented reality apps available. There are tons more, too – from third-party apps that ecommerce brands can use to boast their wares to branded experiences that add another customer touchpoint.