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Amazon’s Augmented Reality Play is Smarter than it Looks

Amazon is building better app-retention with Alexa, Amazon Pay and now, Amazon AR View.

When you think of who stands to monetize Augmented Reality, Amazon doesn’t usually come to mind. I won’t kid you, I am waiting for my Magic Leap AR glasses, but until then this appears to be a pretty useful feature.

Amazon AR View

The Tech Wars of Retail have Started

Amazon might be the king of the Cloud and Voice AI but in apps, it’s not so great. According to AppAnnie, even Wish is ahead of them. I’m always reading Sarah Perez of TechCrunch and Daphne Howland of Retail Dive, and retail is trying hard to cash in on Augmented reality in late 2017. Adding AR features is hot before the holidays, with AR shopping featuring on apps and websites already with Target, Wayfair, and IKEA.

If you haven’t noticed in 2017, there’s a tech race in Retail and things are heating up. Target has announced a number of new tech strategies as it struggles to keep up with Amazon, and now Walmart. Walmart’s Store №8 has thought a lot about the future of VR shopping.

The holiday season of 2017 is looking like the great test for retailers in their adoption of tech. In just 4 days, Alibaba will do “Single’s Day”, pretty much the biggest global day in the world of shopping, where sketched out single people in Asia treat themselves. It’s many times the revenue of Black Friday or Amazon Prime Day. While Amazon will ultimately have to keep up with Alibaba, Walmart and Target are pretty desperate to keep up with Amazon, as unlikely as that is.

With AR View, Amazon is using a tried and true tech that actually adds utility to its app. After all, Ikea is now available on Amazon and it’s sort of huge. AR View lets me visualize online products in my personal living space via my smartphone camera. Launched at the start of November, 2017, this feature offers the ability to view thousands of products for home or office including what we might expect: electronics, furniture, toys, home décor and so forth all in AR.

The Start of AR and VR Showrooming

Furniture has tended to be one of those items in retail that we’d go to a showroom to check out in person. Retailers are taking AR by storm because it’s far easier to implement than VR. Shopping for furniture is the perfect test for this. AR is seen as a potential game-changer in how we do E-commerce since like smart speakers, it’s yet another way we could access and imagine items in our lives. Yet another way E-commerce will get a channel that enables us to convert more and spend more time in retail apps.

To imagine an item not just in a finished room, but placed in their actual own room, is kind of a breakthrough for AR showrooming.

Amazon’s AR View

In Augmented Reality you’ll be able to rotate your items to better see them from all angles, so visualizing how that sofa will fit in that living room arrangement begins to make a lot more sense. Since pictures on Amazon of products are usually limited to just a few: a close-up, overview, and the item in use — this pretty much expands on the possibilities of how that item will look and feel in your space.

Augmented Reality for E-commerce Native Consumers

Here’s how it works:

  • Tap on the camera icon in the Amazon app
  • Choose AR View form the menu that appears
  • Swipe through the top menu to choose from categories (“bedroom”, “electronics”, “toys”, etc…)

While there are a lot of selections to chose from to retain you in Amazon’s App, you might actually find the AR View feature most useful for items such as furniture, kitchen appliances and who knows what else.

The idea of having full 360 degree options to “window-browse” items in Augmented Reality certainly isn’t new to tech enthusiasts, but it will be to many consumers. The feature is starting first on iOS devices and appears dependent upon Apple’s snazzy ARKit to begin with on iPhone 6S or later models. Still, it’s a great move for Amazon that is playing a good game for Black Friday with its Deals Store launch.

We knew the race to AR was on, but we didn’t expect it to be here this fast. The holiday shopping season of 2017 is like a house-warming party for Retail powered by new tech. If Amazon has become a technology and AI-native company, Walmart and Target need to innovate hard to stay relevant.