Report: Augmented Reality Boost Online Retail Sales
The home improvement retailer Home Depot implemented augmented reality capabilities to its mobile web and app before the pandemic. Home Depot reports that AR product review feature has helped boost engagement and conversions for its products as consumers spend a lot more time shopping on their phones.
Home Depot had announced a major shift in direction to online sales during the pandemic as well as an increased reliance on its website by its customers. Most of the huge shifts have been from the engagement and interactivity improvements in its app and mobile web features. Over 14% of Home Depot’s sales during the second quarter ending August 2 occurred online. Home Depot is expecting to see continued growth in both sales and engagement. Overall, the home improvement retailer’s online sales grew more than 100% year over year.
Home Depot rolled out augmented reality way before the pandemic hit the American shores in mid-March and was thus well prepared for the upcoming storm. Its AR product feature enabled customers to choose products either on its mobile website or the Home Depot mobile app and view/visualize them at home via AR instead of having to travel to a Home Depot physical branch to see the products in person.
As a result, Home Depot has been ahead of the curve compared to other retailers and was able to easily transition more of its operations online when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of many physical stores due to the strict lockdown measures with customers having to shop online from the comfort of their homes.
Home Depot had intended for the app to be used in bridging the digital and physical characteristics of the products such as the color, texture, size as well as a means of virtually coordinating these products in their homes.
3D Visualization Has Improved the Conversion Rates
According to Home Depot’s vice president for ecommerce and interconnected experiences Justin Burleigh, it made sense for the retailer to leverage smartphone AR since approximately two-thirds of all its web activity comes from smartphone users. Additionally, mobile AR is now relatively simple. Customers can simply touch a corresponding field on the product page and the AR view will appear automatically.
For Home Depot, the investment in Augmented Reality has paid off. According to the retailer, customers who use its AR function purchase a product two or three times more often than customers who only visualize 2D product images on its online shop.
Burleigh added that more Home Depot products are now available in AR form and can be seen in one of its hardware stores. In the future, the retailer plans to make even more products available in AR preview.
Apart from AR product visualization, Home Depot is also working on object recognition that will enable customers to point their smartphone cameras on a physical object whereupon the app will identify the product name, the manufacturer, size, color and show the buyer where to find the item at Home Depot. This features also ties into the other online capabilities of the app that, for example, shows the buyer whether a particular item is in stock at a shopper’s local store and the particular aisle and bay where the item can be found.
The Home Depot AR technology was developed in-house. Instead of expanding the function to desktop, Home Depot chose to limit it to its app and mobile web as Augmented Reality is “best on mobile” and offers a “pretty seamless experience” in this format.
The AR feature is available on the product detail page. To pull the AR viewer, consumers simply need to tap on the “See it in your home with 3D Augmented Reality”.
The retailer still has various web features on its wish-list that it regards as “compelling experiences” although it isn’t sharing any details on these yet. For the time being, Home Depot is continuing to invest in its data science capabilities that will enable it to deliver more personalized experiences for shoppers using its ecommerce site and to also scale the number of products that are available in Augmented Reality.