Last week Snap unveiled AR Enterprise Services (ARES), a newly-developed enterprise solution that enables businesses to integrate Snap’s Augmented Reality (AR) into their owned and operated channels.
According to the company, the new offering will allow consumers to “enjoy immersive and personalized experiences with their favorite brands, with a suite of advanced tools designed to ensure product certainty.”
For brands looking for new ways to expand their reach, there is now the opportunity to integrate features such as the AR try-on, Fit Finder, and interactive 3D Viewer technology into their own apps and websites, allowing marketers a more expansive suite of tools to engage with consumers.
To learn more about what both consumers and brands can expect, we recently caught up with Carolina Arguelles Navas, Head of AR Enterprise Product Strategy and Product Marketing.
Over the course of our conversation, Navas, who has been with the company for nearly eight years, offers more insight into ARES, how adding the option of AR to the customer journey affects conversion rates, the goal of replicating the immersive experiences of in-store shopping, where the company is at, and heading, in the hardware space, and more.
Tell us about the recent launch of Snap’s AR Enterprise Services offering and what brands and consumers can expect from it.
ARES is our new business line that brings our AR and AI technology to enterprises, starting with retail. Our goal is to allow customers to integrate our AR and AI into their own apps and websites to transform the way they’re engaging with consumers. The first offering is called Shopping Suite, which is an enterprise suite tailored towards the retail vertical, with four key offerings that will help retailers improve the shopping experience and address retail’s biggest challenges.
Shopping Suite has four components. The first is our fit and sizing recommendation tool, Fit Finder, to help shoppers figure out the size they should be buying.
The second is our 3D Viewer, which allows shoppers to see every detail and angle the item they want in 3D. The third is AR Try-On, which lets shoppers see how a product – whether it’s apparel, eyewear, or shoes — looks like on them. Finally, our last component is an entire set of tools, including our Enterprise Manager, and services to help enterprise companies actually integrate these technologies to their own platforms.
What does the data say in terms of customer conversion rates and sales growth with the use of AR?
According to our global research, 92% of Gen Z say they are interested in using AR for shopping, with 6 in 10 affirming that AR makes shopping experiences easier, better and faster overall. The data highlights that AR has the ability to make the shopping experience easier and more engaging, influence purchase intention, and give confidence to consumers that they’re making the right decision.
Additionally, we’ve seen early validation from our customers like Goodr and Princess Polly. Eyewear company Goodr is already seeing an 81% uplift in add-to-cart and a 67% uplift in conversion, we have apparel retailers like Princess Polly, that are seeing a 24% lower product return rate by integrating solutions like Fit Finder and AR Try-On. These early results are a testament to how Shopping Suite is addressing retailer challenges.
56% of shoppers surveyed by NielsenIQ said that AR gives them more confidence about the quality of a product, and 61% said they prefer to shop with retailers that offer AR experiences. What do you think drives this confidence over traditional touch and try-it-on retail?
While the in-store experience offers shoppers the ability to physically try on items, the rise in ecommerce sales due to the convenience and optionality it offers has transformed the retail industry. However, buyer confidence is a critical unmet need retailers need to overcome due to the negative impact on the shopper experience, and the costly impact to the business; it’s expected that 2023 returns are to surpass $664 Billion in the US alone.
Our joint research with Publicis and Alter Agents shows that 80% of AR shoppers feel more confident in their purchase as a result of using AR, and this confidence comes from the fundamental utility offered by the technology.
With AR, brands can inspire shoppers to do a lot more—ARES’ Shopping Suite provides value to retailers by offering their consumers an engaging experience to increase confidence in their purchases by allowing them to interact with the product in a detailed and customized way, and help retailers increase brand loyalty, reduce their returns, and increase their conversions.
It’s been noted that a goal of AR is replicating the immersive experiences of in-store shopping. Where do you see that goal in terms of the current offering, and what are some hurdles left to overcome in terms of replicating the experience?
We believe there are countless opportunities for how AR can improve the shopper experience – both online and in-store. We are excited about the impact the technologies are already making in solving key challenges for retailers starting with the online experience where lack of shopper confidence is more prominent.
“Our joint research with Publicis and Alter Agents shows that 80% of AR shoppers feel more confident in their purchase as a result of using AR, and this confidence comes from the fundamental utility offered by the technology.”
While virtual try-on can be helpful in-store for shoppers who would prefer not to use the fitting room or for items that are out of stock, new use cases for how AR can help the in-store and post-purchase experience are already being explored.
For example, beauty brands such as Estee Lauder’s Too Faced are using Snap’s AR technology to scan their product packaging of eyeshadow palettes to unlock step-by-step tutorials on how to use the items – moving AR beyond a helpful tool to purchase, into an opportunity for experiential learning and relationship building with customers.
How have the acquisitions of Vertebrae, Fit Analytics, and Forma over the last two years added to the Snap offering?
ARES combines the power of our AR platform with technologies from Vertebrae, Forma, and Fit Analytics to create our enterprise solution for retailers, which we’re calling Shopping Suite. Our 3D Viewer is derived from Vertebrae’s platform, which helps brands and retailers to create, manage, distribute, and optimize 3D & AR commerce experiences.
“AR is core to the Snapchat experience today, and over time, we see even greater opportunities for hardware to bring it to a new dimension.”
Fit Finder leverages AI-enabled technology from Fit Analytics, which lets shoppers enter their own measurements into a tool that uses machine learning to match those dimensions up to the clothes or shoes in question to find the best fit, ultimately reducing returns.
Finally, AR Try-On is a combination of technology from Forma with Snap’s 10 year investment in AR, which allows shoppers to virtually try on products by using the live camera or uploading a photo of themselves.
How about hardware? What’s currently available and what can consumers expect in the future?
AR is core to the Snapchat experience today, and over time, we see even greater opportunities for hardware to bring it to a new dimension. Our ambition is that AR can be even more natural through glasses that let you use your hands to interact with AR around you. We’re currently in the process of working with customers to bring our AR to their physical spaces, and will have more to share on our vision soon.
“While virtual try-on can be helpful in-store for shoppers who would prefer not to use the fitting room or for items that are out of stock, new use cases for how AR can help the in-store and post-purchase experience are already being explored.”
In 2021, we unveiled our next-generation Spectacles, one of the lightest and brightest pairs of AR glasses on the market. They’re in the hands of hundreds of AR developers around the world, who’ve already built hundreds of Lenses for Spectacles to explore immersive, hands-free ways to play, learn and more.
What will be the availability across APAC now and in the future?
We are excited to offer our ARES and Shopping Suite to retailers across nearly all global markets. In APAC, we are already engaging with retailers in major markets, such as Australia and India.