Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky?

Augmented reality and virtual reality are playing larger and larger roles in our daily lives and branching into just about every industry under the sun, often with spectacularly successful results.

Businesses and advertisers in particular are utilizing AR and VR technology in order to better connect with consumers, creating more dynamic and engaging experiences on websites. However, there is a question right now as to whether or not it is too risky to incorporate AR and VR into e-commerce sites due to the fact that online shoppers are in need of enhanced security while making purchases on the internet.

Sources show that around 1.8 billion people around the world do at least a portion of their shopping online, and that figure has only grown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, where most consumers around the world had to resort to online shopping amidst a vast global shutdown.

As a matter of fact, during March of 2020 42% of the US population did their shopping online, a number that was double from the same time in 2018. A whopping 85% of customers around the globe have made at least one online purchase at some point in their life.

Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky?

E-Commerce: Why Mess Up a Good Thing?

If your e-commerce site is running well and your customers have good things to say about your secure purchasing process online, then maybe you’re wondering why you would even entertain the idea of incorporating AR or VR technology into your e-commerce site/business. However, you could be missing out on having your site and services stand out among the rest of the noise. 

AR and VR technology are synonymous with top-of-the-line — so any visitor who uses your site will notice this right off the bat, giving your site a certain level of authority and credibility that a more basic e-commerce site simply isn’t going to be able to match. 

If you do incorporate AR or VR into your site and people are going to be making purchases on your site, you’re going to want to make sure that you double-down on your security measures as a result. You don’t want to learn the hard way when it comes to security breaches. 

There are a number of ways that your e-commerce site and network can be compromised due to security threats, which can come in the form of malware, phishing, scams, hacking, and more. The Internet is a markedly unsafe place — when it comes to your e-commerce site  browser security, site security, and network security are crucial.

AR/VR and E-commerce

E-commerce businesses and websites are trying to bridge the gap between online and brick-and-mortar shopping, and augmented reality and virtual reality are avenues that give them the power to do just that.

Virtual reality is being used by online sellers to create more of an in-store experience, not to mention help consumers visualize how a product can be used or how it will look in their home. Down the road, VR aims to create a completely immersive and sensory experience, incorporating sight, audio, smell, touch, and even taste.

Augmented reality is used to add outside elements onto an existing environment. In the e-commerce world, augmented reality helps users interact with products in order to increase buying confidence. AR and VR are helping bring products and e-commerce businesses to life… right before the consumer’s eyes!

However, AR and VR can open certain doors that can be exploited by hackers and other compromises in security. With new technology springs new surfaces of attack.

One upside of AR and VR is that they offer very few new attack surfaces, since they both predominantly operate off of existing platforms. AR and VR can operate on the computers, consoles, and mobile devices we already use, AR/VR tracking software can be used without internet connection in many cases — which means that this technology doesn’t necessarily pose any greater risk than any other kind of software, perhaps even so than, say, the average network connected video game.

Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky?

Online Security and E-Commerce

Online security is of crucial importance for any business, and e-commerce businesses need to take every precaution available to protect themselves and those who make purchases on their site. In 2018 alone, over 32% of all online attacks happened to online businesses.

Make sure to protect the trust of your customers’ by taking a few e-commerce security measures which include:

  • Integrity
  • Privacy
  • Effective Authentication
  • Non-Repudiation

Integrity is important in order to ensure that any piece of information your customers enter on your site remains incorrupt and unchangeable. The altering of any information your customer enters will result in a loss of trust.

Privacy is of obvious importance, which includes the prevention of any sort of activity that involves the sharing of customer information with third parties that have not been authorized. At the very least, every online business should have anti-virus protection, firewall, encryption, as well as additional data protection.

Authentication is important in order to ensure both parties are real, which will help ensure that both parties deliver what they promise to.

Since e-commerce transactions occur on the internet and not in person, it’s important to ensure that both parties hold up their end of the transaction, and non-repudiation is essential in finalizing the sale. Non-repudiation adds a layer of protection for the seller and the buyer to ensure that both parties are 100% satisfied with the business transaction.

Treading Lightly with AR/VR and E-commerce

Now that the global pandemic is starting to subside in many areas of the world, customers are changing their behaviors and over 75% of customers have shifted brand loyalty during this time of global pandemic. This creates a unique opportunity for smaller brands and e-commerce businesses to stake their claim and convert consumers to their respective brands. 

Customers have a new set of expectations when shopping online. Now, many consumers expect to get a clear picture of what they’re purchasing ahead of time, and without even stepping foot into a brick and mortar location in order to make such findings.

Larger online retailers like IKEA and Gucci can easily make the shift into incorporating AR into their online shopping experience with very little risk, while smaller businesses might be rolling the dice trying to capitalize on changing customer expectations and shopping preferences. Many small businesses do not see the appeal in jeopardizing an already seamless shopping experience they’ve worked so tirelessly to create. However, failing to address a new customer need could have an online store failing to experience new growth and connect with new customers.

Ideally, e-commerce sites will be able to incorporate AR and VR technology into their online purchasing experience without disrupting the sales process. Remember that AR and VR can both be used as part of the sales funnel, which will help inspire new and existing customers to make a purchase.

You will want to make sure that your process, from start to finish, is quick and easy. Google asserts that for every one second page load delay, 20% of customers leave the site. Striking the right balance between functionality and familiarity is crucial in crafting a successful online shopping experience.

Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky?

Know Thy Audience

Taking the time to correctly identify your target audience is also incredibly important when deciding whether or not to incorporate AR and VR technology into your ecommerce site. If your target audience is younger and more tech savvy, then you are going to want to consider accommodating those sorts of needs and expectations. However, if your target audience is more advanced in age and less familiar with the latest technology, you might want to consider keeping your online sales process as simple and easy as possible.

Credibility is extremely important as customer loyalty trends continue to shift during these uncertain times. As uncertain as the times may be, your e-commerce site has the ability to provide continuity and consistency, which consumers put a lot of stock in these days. If your brand/business can weather the storm and provide your products and/or services without faltering, even in the online world, then that is going to increase your authority, credibility, and your relevance.

Making the decision to incorporate AR/VR into your online purchasing experience might also simply come down to money. Incorporating augmented reality and virtual reality into a website can be quite expensive, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Integrating AR and VR into your e-commerce site might cost more money than you’re willing to put up, especially if the return on investment isn’t very convincing.

At the end of the day, it’s an important decision to make. If you do decide to incorporate AR and VR into your e-commerce site, it’s a good idea to do your research, have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish (keeping the customer experience in mind, of course), and execute a well-made plan to ensure everything happens in a timely and productive manner. Keeping in mind some e-commerce fundamentals mentioned above will help ensure that you make the right decision for your e-commerce brand/business.