New realities of eCommerce
From groceries to furniture to pet care, no matter what the item, as those who exist in the generation of the internet it’s become almost natural for us to purchase some or all of these items on an online shopping platform. We say goodbye to the bygone era of the yesteryears where purchasing an item required one to go to a physical store, and with new technologies changing the digital shopping experience, consumer purchase behavior has also undergone extensive modification.
Let’s talk evolution
Bezos opened Amazon.com, named after the wide-reaching South American river, on July 16, 1995. If you look closely, the Slogan at bottom of the old logo is *Earth’s biggest bookstore. *Now, they are The Biggest Store on Earth.
Process of buying a book on the first e-commerce website in the world in 1995:
The user lands at the homepage
Clicks on search — user can either search by author or title.
After searching, books are listed.
The user clicks on the desired book and lands on the page with the book’s cover picture & information.
The user adds the book to the cart and proceeds to pay.
This is exactly how you will buy a physical book today on Amazon. The fundamental user journey on an eCommerce website is Homepage-Choose Category/Search-Product Listing-Product Page-Checkout. This has remained constant since 1995.
All the design innovation that happened on each of these pages since 1995 is to make sure the person is convinced to advance further to checkout.
Homepage — Product Listing or the Product page. Product Listing — Product Page or Cart Product Page — Cart or Checkout
What do I mean? When you look at the 1997 Amazon home page they started incorporating more imagery to entice people to click on featured books
Quality images can evoke powerful emotions in humans to create a memorable UX, which eventually strengthens sales and brand recognition
Two of the most important characteristics of good design are discoverability and understanding.
As Amazon expanded beyond selling books, it was important the other categories also grab the user’s attention, tabs were introduced for better discoverability. It started with two top-level categories books and music. With top-level categories in yellow and subcategories in a contrasting colour worked well for the user to reach the product listing of a category. But Amazon kept on adding more categories in 1999–2000 and it soon got out of control.
Amazon ran a live test in early 2000 comparing all category tab layout to Store Directory/Featured Stores layout
Hick’s Law implies that the more choices you present your users with, the longer it will take them to reach a decision.
In 2010, providing ease in search navigation became the primary focus on the homepage to add to the convenience of being able to find a product that was desired
Every page has gone through an overhaul and at this moment numerous A/B experiments are running on Amazon.com to find what works best for the users.
To summarize, Customer journey on an e-commerce website has improved a lot be it the search on the homepage, removal of add to cart on the product listing page, wishlist, recommendations, comparison of products on the product page, making the checkout process seamless by saving address & credit card details, assuring user payment is secure, revolutionary one-click payment, etc. removing all barriers to easy and quick purchases
Amongst all this, one aspect has remained common since 1995 — images on product pages. We are halfway through 2020 & e-commerce brands still use images to visualise the products.
The Visual Problem
With the advent of categories like home decor, furniture, electronics, automobiles it is a big ask from the consumers to buy these items without them knowing how it will look in their homes? Will it fit in a particular area in their home/workplace? What sofa will look good with the wallpaper in the living room? Will the kitchen aid fit in the space between induction and containers? What is the size?
When the customer is faced with multiple questions, it creates a barrier to purchase.
Human beings are visual creatures
90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Having to mentally calculate how deep something is or how high an item is really difficult. Having to decipher a sizing chart is a significantly difficult task compared to seeing a product and get an understanding of the size, height, and depth.
Most buyers approach online shopping with apprehension and shop with the fear that the items they buy may not arrive as they seem on the internet.
In summary, Visualization has not improved on the product pages which has led to product returns (Forrester Research estimates 25% of items bought online are returned) or in most cases users not even considering buying the item.
Solving the visualization problem
The problem with the existing product page is the user will be scrolling through countless photos to find the angle they are curious about — if that photo exists at all.
Shopping in an offline store brings emotions and engagement that an online store could never fulfill but 3D & Augmented Reality which brings contextual information and engagement can play a huge role in bridging the gap between online shopping and brick-and-mortar stores.
Enter 3D and Augmented Reality
You can zoom in or out, rotate the object, and view it in motion leaving the customers with no blind areas to wonder about — and the whole experience is completed when you can see the furniture right in your room and see if it looks good with your walls or will it fit in the room.
Large organizations like Apple, Amazon, Ikea, Google, Facebook, etc. have invested heavily in AR.
Representing 43% of US online retail sales, Amazon’s impact as the major e-commerce player makes its use of AR all the more relevant, as it will encourage tech and retail organizations to make virtual catalogs that have interactive 3D models, instead of only 2D pictures.
Myths surrounding AR & 3D
AR & 3D still isn’t very accessible now
Most of the people with an Android phone or an iPhone can easily access AR via their cameras. With the global market of WebAR-compatible devices is approaching 3 billion, WebAR as a distribution method has the ability to reach nearly twice as many smartphones as AR deployed in a native app.
AR & 3D is only for the tech giants
It’s true that until recently, creating AR experiences was difficult, time-consuming, and expensive, best left to giant companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and BMW. Coding for the new technology requires expert knowledge from the developers, so they charged a lot for developing AR technology. Now, with the advent of many companies focused on solving visualization through AR, 3D & AR visualization is affordable.
3D doesn’t look good on the web, is hard to integrate and might increase my site speed
Previously representing black or glossy on the 3D models on the web was impossible but now with PBR shaders, it has become easier to model realistic models for the web. There are multiple drag and drop platforms that require no coding to build AR experiences which can be integrated with few lines of code.
AR will not thrive
Until AR headsets are widely adopted, most AR applications will be experienced via mobile devices.
The next few years will bring a wave of improvements in the Cameras and sensors of smartphones which will improve S.L.A.M. (simultaneous localization and mapping: helps identify a surface to place the 3D model) & depth tracking (hiding virtual objects behind real things).
AR is here for the long term.
Online shopping is an easy solution for busy life in today’s world. In the past decade, there has been a massive change in the way customers shop. Online shopping is growing so fast that the global online shopping market size is predicted to hit 4 trillion in 2020 (53% of the world population). In the US alone, it is predicted to hit 300 million online shoppers in 2023 (91% of the entire country’s population).
The primary goal of a business is to earn profits. A business that fulfills the customer needs is more successful than its competitors as satisfied buyers tend to make a repetitive purchase. Since 1995 eCommerce websites have gone through multiple iterations to reach a level where there are no obvious frictions while buying something online.
But with the emergence of home decor, furniture, electronics, automobiles before making a purchase user has to get an understanding of the width, height, & depth to see if the product will fit in with the existing surroundings.
The differentiating factor between the eCommerce websites will be the incorporation of AR and 3D on the website.
Emotions are the essence of every customer experience and good memories can lead to enduring customer relationships. 3D & AR is the way to distinguish the eCommerce brand as a customer-centric innovator.
These are tough times if you are a retailer, store, or offline brand. the retail community is one of the sectors being hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. As retailers try to figure out how to navigate these uncertain times. Scapic will make your products 3D & AR ready, completely free of cost.
Scapic is everything you need to make your product 3D and AR ready. To learn more about Scapic’s SMB relief program take a look at scapic.com