Etsy Virtual Home: A Look into the Potential of Augmented Reality in Retail

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Etsy is known for housing some of the craftiest online sellers — from jewelry pieces to big-ticket home items, they have it all; but the latest addition to its family of things is a virtual house that hints at what AR technology can do in retail.

Accessible on the web browser, the Etsy House showcases the interior of a large house that users can navigate in Google Maps fashion, and we noticed it’s doing something that looks like a good format for augmented reality (AR) retail apps. 

While the Etsy home tour isn’t an example of AR at work, it demonstrates the technology’s potential in retail. It shows a photorealistic rendering of a house’s interior with shoppable objects littered in almost every corner like a hidden object game.

However, it’s what users see when they click on these objects that got us feeling intrigued.

Image credits to Canva

Ways to Apply the Etsy Virtual Home Tour Format to Retail & an AR Mobile App

Inside Etsy’s virtual space, you get to navigate the halls of the cozy home strewn with interactive objects available on the online shop. By clicking on an object’s marker, a pop-up appears containing the item description and buttons leading to the shop or social media.

We think there are several ways you can apply this format to an AR-based mobile application:

  • Add real-time AR capabilities in your physical store by allowing visitors to interact with and learn about your products — and even read through customer reviews — using your AR app
  • Create an AR virtual home within your mobile app, giving users a space they can virtually enter and explore, as well as read about your products and check out reviews
  • Give the AR renderings of your furniture and homeware the same kind of treatment as those in Etsy so users don’t have to go back and forth from your website to your AR mobile app

Any of these can boost your retail business’s sales because they’re engaging and valuable. But if you’re curious to know what types of products are more likely to attract droves of customers when promoted with AR, keep reading.

AR Experiences that Convert

According to a study by Snapchat, Alter Agents, and Publicis Media, some of the best possible ways to incorporate AR into your marketing strategy include:

  • Home decor experiences
  • Virtual try-ons
  • Product demonstrations

They have a broad, common purpose, which is to let interested buyers get acquainted with the product before committing to it. But when you look at the first two, they’re referring to very specific things. Home decor speaks to furniture and homeware, bulky items that tend to be returned when deemed incompatible with their designated space. 

On the other hand, virtual try-ons are well-matched for items people have yet to don on their bodies, from apparel to makeup. These also tend to be returned if they differ from buyers’ expectations, which often happens in online shopping.

You can see how much value AR adds to your mobile application — it makes the buying cycle so much easier on your customers. 

The benefits of having this technology include “providing customers with a more engaging shopping experience, driving sales conversations, increasing brand awareness and loyalty, and saving time and money for both companies and their customers,” a recent report in Yahoo says. 

No wonder then that AR, along with virtual reality (VR), in retail is expected to reach $17.86 billion by 2028, the same report notes.

Image credits to Canva

AR in Retail: Enhancing Customers’ Experience of a Brand

The uses of AR in retail range from practical to entertaining. And while many might deem the former to be the more effective approach, each one actually has its own merits, research shows.

Researchers from the University of Berlin and Tampere University found the entertainment value provided by AR has the capacity to enhance:

  • Brand engagement
  • Store attractiveness
  • A willingness on the part of the consumer to share their information
  • Purchase intentions
  • Customer satisfaction

One thing your business can do is elevate the usefulness and entertainment value your AR app provides. To make sure AR experiences are helpful to customers who do online window shopping, researchers of the study suggest making the AR renderings of products — dresses, sunglasses, furniture — as “vivid” and realistic as possible, something NarraSoft has done for its clients.

As for the fun factor, an AR app can take inspiration from the Carolina Panthers’ giant AR cat. What can you do that’s entertaining, and at the same time useful, on that scale? 

Do you want an AR mascot of your brand roaming the streets and leading users to your store? Or do you want an AR tour guide on your mobile app, one that assists travelers in an area foreign to them?

All these experiences are within your grasp, if you reach out to a company experienced in the art of bringing stunning, life-like graphics into the real world.

Successful Examples of AR in Retail

Still unconvinced by the value AR brings into a marketing strategy? Here are only a fraction of cases where brands, both luxury and mass-market, have experienced success in using this technology.

  • Kohl’s: Through Snapchat, a younger audience can easily try out different pieces from Kohl’s virtual closet and even “make a purchase without ever leaving the Snapchat app”, an article on the brand’s website says. This is an example of a virtual try-on in fashion.
  • MAC: As for makeup, MAC Cosmetics does virtual try-on differently by integrating AR into their website. You can wear different lip colors on their site before purchase without having to download an app.  
  • Home Depot: This furniture and home decor brand was leagues ahead of the game when the pandemic hit, simply because it had released its AR mobile app before there was an urgent need for it. It’s so effective, in fact, that its chief product officer Justin Burleigh said those who used the AR app are two or three times likelier to convert than those who didn’t, market research group Digital Commerce 360 reports.

With AR, there is an endless array of possible experiences you can give customers. All you have to do is ask how this transformative technology can cater to their needs.

In Summary

We were in awe of the scale and quality of the Etsy virtual home, and we thought their format would benefit companies looking to build an AR mobile app for their retail business. 

If you’ve been thinking about integrating AR into your marketing strategy, you can do so by adding AR capabilities to your physical store, creating an AR virtual home in your mobile app, or allowing users to view information and reviews about your product as they drag and drop its AR counterpart into their space.

At NarraSoft, we have years and years of AR art creation experience under our belt, and our mission is to help SMEs grow their brand by bridging the gap between their products or services and the people who need them.

Reach out to us today if you have any questions about the work we do or if you’d like to start working with our team today. Email us at sales@narrasoft.com or send a message our way through our chat box or contact form!

Justine Jordan

Justine Jordan is a content and copy writer. She has written for a popular business daily in the Philippines and for various startups across the globe before transitioning to work for NarraSoft. She graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a bachelor's degree in journalism.