How Shopify is taking online retailers into the future

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Shopify is betting that augmented reality will become business as usual for online retailers.

The e-commerce platform now allows its e-merchants to launch 3D and augmented reality versions of their products directly on their websites. According to retail publication Accused, merchants can convert their entire product offerings into 3D and AR models on their websites. Shopify is teaming up with UK-based AR platform Poplar Studio to offer the service through a application which costs businesses $49 per month.

Shopify already offered 3D and AR functionality, but the experience was fragmented and required multiple apps. The new platform allows retailers to access all features in a single application.

3D and AR can help online retailers deliver experiences typically only provided by physical stores, allowing customers to better visualize their potential purchases. Charged notes that Shopify merchants who added 3D images to their websites experienced 94% higher conversion rates.

Some experts believe retailers will end up adopting technologies like this in the future, especially to help compete with Amazon, which has seen its market cap rise nearly 50% to $1.4 trillion since the start of the pandemic. Cate Trotter, head of trends at consultancy Insider Trends, recently predicted that online retailers will massively adopt 3D and augmented reality in the near future, largely through the virtual world known as the Metaverse.

“The Metaverse can do more to change retail than anything from the physical store,” Trotter said.

Many retailers have already started experimenting with 3D and augmented reality. Burberry allows shoppers to view many of its products in 3D. The luxury brand recently partnered with Google to allow 3D images to appear in search results. Gucci is also allowing customers to “try on” shoes at home using AR. And Nike announced in November its partnership with gaming platform Roblox to create a digital world where users can dress their characters in Nike clothing.

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