Augmented reality shopping and the future of retail

Download infographic: Augmented reality shopping and the future of retail

With 30% of all products ordered online now being returned, we explore how augmented reality shopping is transforming e-commerce by helping online retailers to reduce the growing cost of returns whilst also providing their customers with a more engaging and convenient way to shop through their mobile device.


The biggest challenge facing online retailers is the rising costs of returns

Today’s increasingly mobile-first consumers are well versed and experienced in online shopping – they know how to get the most out of their shopping experience, frequently at the expense of online retailers. With customers buying and returning an average of three items per month, the cost of returns is skyrocketing. In the UK, returns are estimated to cost businesses in excess of £60bn each year, putting huge strain on retailers of all sizes.

With 51% of retailers saying their margins are being squeezed by the pressure of processing ‘free’ returns, and yet 85% of consumers expecting retailers to provide returns for free, something needs to change. Augmented reality shopping and the future of retail infographic 1

Augmented reality can help online retailers significantly reduce returns

Augmented reality can help online retailers significantly reduce returns by providing an engaging ‘try-before-you-buy’ digital experience.

Innovative AR solutions allow customers to visualise products in real time, from the comfort of their own homes. Full 3D visualisations give the opportunity for shoppers to see how products could look in their space before they commit to purchase, reducing the temptation to order multiple items to try out before choosing one and returning the others, a practice that is increasingly common.

Customers who have seen a product in-situ feel reassured that it fits, it looks good and they are happy with it before they even add it to their basket, making it far less likely that they will return the item when it arrives. When 76% of consumers say they would ‘maybe’ or ‘definitely’ purchase more items if there was a ‘try-before-you-buy’ option available, it is easy to see the infinite potential of AR in eCommerce.

Augmented reality shopping apps are increasingly being deployed to reduce the inconvenience and cost of returning an item, both for buyer and seller, and a whopping 69% of consumers expect retailers to launch an AR app in the next 6 months.

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Augmented reality shopping apps


To find out why 42% of shoppers think that AR would help them make a better buying decision, it’s worth downloading and experiencing augmented reality shopping for yourself. The following augmented reality apps and AR examples enable online shoppers to have a convenient and engaging ‘try-before-you-buy’ digital experience for a range of products – everything from taps to cars!

Argos augmented reality powered shopping app

Find, place, configure and buy your brand new sofa (or TV, armchair, cabinet, etc) using the magic of AR with the newly integrated ‘View in AR’ feature of the Argos augmented reality shopping app. The new feature now makes it possible for customers to view full-size visualisations of products in their homes, providing an accurate and convenient way for shoppers to try high ticket items before purchase.

VADO augmented reality product visualiser app

The VADO Interactive Visual (VIV) app is a comprehensive AR catalogue app which enables an emotionally driven purchase through augmented reality. The app provides customers with the chance to try out different fixtures and fittings (including configuring textures and even amending the lighting to reflect their own home environment) in their bathrooms to inspire them to make the right buying decisions.

Audi augmented reality car configurator

Imagine having your perfect new car, personalised and ready to order using augmented reality; by utilising the power of Apple’s ARKit we granted customers access to a top of the line Audi, with no need for them to even visit a showroom. As well as providing customers with a unique ‘try before they buy’ experience in their own home (or driveway), it is also the perfect tool for car dealerships where space is at a premium or local stock availability is limited.

So, how do you introduce AR to your retail business?


At Engine Creative, we encourage a ‘play, plan, partner’ approach to introduce AR to your business, a tried and tested model that proves successful time and time again.

Play – put yourself in the position of your customers and find out how AR can enhance the shopping experience. Download augmented reality shopping apps such as Argos and VADO and see how these experiences could be translated to the products you sell and, hopefully, this will inspire some great ideas for the planning stage.

Plan – now think about the logistics of integrating augmented reality into your customers’ buying journey. Could you integrate an AR feature into your existing eCommerce app? Or is there an opportunity to create a new retail app for your brand, with augmented reality at its heart?

Augmented reality shopping and the future of retail infographic 3

Partner – finding the right partner to help you deliver your new augmented vision is vital. Many clients come to Engine Creative because we combine unrivalled augmented reality technical expertise with over 20 years of delivering award-winning creative solutions for brands – this combination of technical knowhow with creative expertise is key to delivering engaging, customer-focussed AR experiences.


Get in touch with our award-winning team and arrange an informal discussion to find out how augmented reality could reduce returns, maximise engagement and bring your brand to life.