If you've shopped online, you may have taken advantage of holiday season sales. Similarly, if you're a retailer, this time of year could be crucial for you to increase holiday sales and boost profits. However, it can also be one of the most challenging phases to prepare for.
Some common concerns that retailers face while trying to increase sales on eCommerce websites during the holiday season are:
- High cost of customer acquisition
- Low product satisfaction
- High return rates
Given that categories like electronics jumped more than 100% in online spending last year over the pre-Christmas week, you’ll need to offer your customers the best possible experience. Augmented reality (AR) can help you achieve that. AR can enable shoppers to envision what a product may look like in their home or office. This helps them feel confident while making a purchase, which leads to higher conversion rates, increases satisfaction, and helps build long-term customer value.
Plus, with AR, you can offer interactive experiences that will make your store stand out from the competition, which may help increase holiday sales.
Before we examine the benefits of using an AR tool for eCommerce this holiday season, let's look at some statistics about online sales during holidays.
Holiday Online Sales Statistics
Even after online shopping exploded over the last two years, there was still room to grow last holiday season. A study from Mastercard found that U.S. eCommerce sales increased by 11 percent from the 2020 to 2021 holiday season.
These holiday online sales numbers were quite low, compared to the previous years. In total, eCommerce sales have now jumped more than 60 percent since 2019 as shoppers were forced inside their homes.
Driven by an influx of independent merchants flooding onto the platform, sales on Shopify from the start of Black Friday to the end of Cyber Monday were more than $6.3 billion in 2021.
Interestingly enough, retail sales also increased year over year, meaning merchants may have to prepare for increased demand in both brick-and-mortar locations and online stores.
Augmented reality, then, offers a perfect solution, as AR in retail is also helping boost customer confidence, increase conversion rates, and minimize return rates. Clearly, retailers can use AR to increase holiday sales through their online and physical stores.
Additionally, with the advent of in-store AR, your supply chain and inventory management challenges become a thing of the past. Customers can engage with infinite aisles to see the entire product catalog right in front of their eyes - even if it’s out of stock - and order it to be shipped when it becomes available.
How to Prepare Your eCommerce Platform
Wondering how to increase sales on online stores during the holiday season? When preparing your eCommerce platform for the holiday season, keep the following things in mind:
Get ready early
42% of shoppers are preparing to buy gifts earlier this season. This behavioral change is driven by skyrocketing inflation rates and could affect retailers who aren’t prepared for an early sales rush. However, for those who are prepared, this could be the golden hour to increase holiday sales.
Test the infrastructure
Next, make sure your website can handle an increase in traffic. This means testing the site speed and ensuring that your host can handle the load. You don't want customers getting frustrated and leaving because your site is taking too long to load.
Streamline your store
To increase holiday sales, make sure your product pages are clear and concise, with high-quality product photos and videos. This is especially important if you're selling things like furniture or home decor, as customers want to be able to see what they're buying. Allowing customers to view products in their space with AR helps them make an informed buying decision, which increases sales conversions and can help increase holiday sales.
Ditch the tape measure
Finally, use a tool like augmented reality to give shoppers a better idea of what your products look like in real life. This can be especially helpful for products such as furniture items, where customers need to know if it will fit.
They no longer have to jot down numbers and start measuring. With AR, they can simply pull up the AR using their phone camera and see the product right in their personal space!
Benefits of AR in Online Shopping
Now that we've looked at some key statistics and tips for preparing your eCommerce store, let's examine how augmented reality can help you increase holiday sales.
One of the main benefits of using AR is that it allows shoppers to get a better idea of what they're buying. This is especially important for products like electronics, and furniture items, which can often look different in your home than in 2D pictures.
With AR, shoppers can see the television in their house before they buy it. This helps them gain a better sense of how it will look with the rest of their decor. As customers are more likely to buy something if they know they'll be happy with it, your business can use AR to increase holiday sales.
In addition to helping shoppers make informed decisions, AR can also increase buying confidence. This is because AR allows shoppers to interact with products before they buy. This can help reduce anxiety about making a purchase, which can work wonders to increase holiday sales for your business.
It also boosts satisfaction, which can drive lifetime value by making more customers return for an additional purchase down the road, or pass along positive reviews about the experience.
Another huge benefit of using AR in online shopping is that it can increase conversions. By allowing your customers to see what a product looks like in real life before they commit to buying it, you can reduce the number of abandoned carts and increase sales.
In fact, AR is expected to increase conversions by a whopping 94%, meaning that if you're not using it, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to increase sales this season and beyond.
Lower return rate
As a result of the increased buying confidence, shoppers are less likely to return items they've purchased.
Holiday returns have been a huge problem for years. The National Retail Federation estimated that 13.3 percent of all merchandise sold during the 2020 holiday season was returned. That accounts for a whopping $101 billion worth of goods.
By lowering the return rate, AR can significantly boost the net revenue for small and large online retailers.
One study found that size concerns alone account for 52% of all online product returns. This can easily be minimized with AR solutions.
Increased return on investment
It's not just confidence in a single purchase, though. AR solutions, like the one offered by Avataar, can add value to a shopper's experience, increase holiday sales, build brand loyalty and boost customer lifetime value.
With interactive content, you can educate shoppers on your products in a fun and engaging way.
This is valuable not only to first-time customers but also to those who are familiar with your brand and want to learn more about your offers. Interactive content can help turn one-time buyers into lifelong fans.
Freedom from clutter
With an out-of-the-box 3D and interactive AR solution for your Shopify and BigCommerce stores, Avataar helps you elevate your customers' buying experiences. Single-click integration allows you to quickly convert your 2D catalog into 3D models, and publish an interactive AR experience on your product page.
With an AR shopping solution in place, you can offer your customers an unmatched shopping experience that keeps bringing them back to your store and helps you increase holiday sales this season
Benefits of AR in Physical Retail
Benefits of AR don’t just limit to enhancing online shopping experience. These solutions are now being used in-store as well, giving some added benefits and leveraging your eCommerce supply chain management to boost conversion rates and increase holiday sales at retail locations.
The rush of holiday shoppers combined with this year's supply chain troubles, can often leave your shelves empty and the stockroom barren. However, with infinite aisles, your out-of-stock products can also be viewed through AR right in the store. This allows customers to view and purchase any product in your catalog, even if it's not physically in the store.
This is a great way to increase sales, as customers are no longer limited by what they have in front of them. They can find the perfect gift for anyone on their list, without having to worry about whether you have it in stock. It also reduces the likelihood of them going to a competitor's store to find what they're looking for.
For some people, going to a mall and seeing the surrounding products is part of the fun.
AR experience zones allow customers to build an entire room around them, see how their renovated kitchen could look, or evaluate how a new piece of furniture may look in their living room. You can give them the feeling of a showroom and bring your products to life.
This is a great way to offer your customers a more immersive shopping experience, get them excited about your products, and help increase holiday sales. It can also help build brand loyalty, as customers will remember the positive experience they had at your store and be more likely to come back in the future. The speed of technology may soon bridge the online-offline divide, allowing customers to bring their homes with them to physical stores and use AR to place products in their living space while evaluating different products in the stores.
As you can see, using AR for your eCommerce store can help increase holiday sales this season. Augmented reality not only provides an interactive and unique shopping experience, it also increases conversion rates.
So if you're looking to give your customers the best possible experience—and increase holiday sales for your business—consider using AR this holiday season and don't be left out in the cold!
We asked our partner, Verbal+Visual (a Shopify Plus agency that works with leading brands such as Jonathan Adler, Kuiu, The Sak, and others), to share some tips for retailers as they prepare for BFCM:
“As you finalise your BFCM strategy, don’t forget: the holiday shopping season is not just about a month of increased sales—it’s about building brand equity for a whole year’s worth of growth. If you connect with your customers and reward them for engaging with your brand, you’ll find yourself ringing in the New Year with a whole new group of enthusiastic brand ambassadors."
Read more about holiday planning from Verbal+Visual here.