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Augmented reality opens a new world of e-commerce

By Breanna Lu Apr. 7 2022

Inseo Kim Art

Imagine a student selecting their dream pair of jeans on the Shein app, choosing the perfect wash, style and size before virtually overlaying an image of the product onto themself. This type of shopping is powered by augmented reality (AR), which enables customers to digitally superimpose images of products onto their surroundings.

Introduced by brands such as Nike and IKEA, AR shopping has been promulgated during the pandemic as health regulations have prevented customers from physically trying on products in-store. Since the pandemic started, several companies have begun using AR to provide consumers with a similar interactive experience. For instance, in 2021, Instagram introduced filters that allow users to try on different shades of makeup from brands such as Urban Decay and Lancôme. Additionally, the Target app created a “See It in Your Space” function that allows customers to resize and place furniture in their homes—making the shopping experience more engaging and practical for consumers. “I use Sephora Virtual Artist to try on different shades of mascara, lipstick and blush. The try-on feature increases the convenience of shopping online, but it requires specific technological knowledge such as knowing how to place and blend color swatches,” an anonymous student said.

Inseo Kim Art

Much of AR shopping’s appeal originates from the unique experience it provides. WebXR development agency AirCards details how the AR experience is enjoyable and hassle-free, especially for people who regularly use new technology. Moreover, shoppers feel deeper connections to brands whose products they can customize as the features can simulate a personal sales assistant. Furthermore, AR shopping’s features benefit retailers as well. Visual commerce platform ThreeKit explains how AR shopping reduces return rates as it allows buyers to visualize how a product will appear on themselves or in their surroundings, eliminating any unexpected issues they may encounter after purchasing it.

Despite its many advantages, AR shopping has a learning curve that complicates its large-scale adoption in the U.S.

Currently, several AR-powered systems require users to click through multiple tabs and buttons to access the interactive features—which may make the process burdensome for customers who are digitally inept. Time explains how apps using AR need to have a smooth, simple and centralized procedure in order for the technology to become mainstream. Furthermore, many, including Senior WenWen Gu, are concerned about the safety of AR technology. Many “try before you buy” features have no security filters, reported software development company App Solutions, which opens up the possibility for ill-intentioned users to overlay products over inappropriate pictures and spread edited images through the web.

“AR technology is underdeveloped, as there are no proven security measures to prevent malicious actions. Some users may have privacy concerns since AR shopping features often require them to open their camera to show themselves or their home,” Gu said.

Inseo Kim Art

Aside from the U.S., interest in AR shopping has proliferated in several countries including the U.K. and China. According to tech company GetApp, over half of the U.K. population is willing to try AR despite having never used the technology before. Meanwhile, much of China is already comfortable with social commerce; Accenture finds that 80% of Chinese social media users shop through retail apps. The growing interest in AR shopping will likely become more apparent as time passes.

Inseo Kim Art

Time forecasts that global social commerce spending will increase from $492 billion to $1.2 trillion by 2025.

In the future, people may no longer need to make in-store purchases as they can shop using AR in the comfort of their own homes. However, despite posing several benefits for consumers and retailers alike, AR shopping calls for further advancement before it can become a key feature of the shopping experience. Until then, its potential is open to exploration.


About the Contributors

Breanna Lu

Page Editor

Breanna Lu is a sophomore at Leland High School and the Investigative Report and Last Word page editor. She loves to binge Netflix shows, try out new foods, explore the outdoors, and stargaze.

Inseo Kim


Inseo Kim is a sophomore at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. She doodles and listens to music whenever she gets the chance. In her free time, she makes origami hearts and takes care of her marimos.

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