5 Fresh Examples of Augmented Reality in E-Commerce

Daniel Kolb
Daniel Kolb
May 5 · 7 min read
AR app being used on a smartphone

This is cool factor 100. Augmented reality and virtual reality are what brands (with the necessary budget) are using to broadcast and show off their online stores and products.

One of the latest digital trends for digital sales is the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Augmented reality involves projecting virtual objects over an image of the real environment. Virtual reality, on the other hand, simulates a completely digital environment for the viewer, completely displacing reality.

Today, Virtual Reality (VR) is mainly used in the field of video games and (learning) simulations thanks to data glasses like the Oculus Rift. When it comes to E-Commerce, what interests us most, is the more practical application scenarios for modern E-Commerce which mostly come up in applications in the field of augmented reality (AR).

But what do AR applications look like in practice? Which companies have already dared the experiment and can demonstrate success? Here are five examples of sophisticated applications of augmented reality (AR) in the E-Commerce environment.

Amazon AR

The fact that an industry giant like Amazon is firmly implementing extensive AR functionality into its mission-critical shopping app shows how far augmented reality (AR) has already come into practice. With Amazon AR View, many items from Amazon's vast catalog can already be projected live into the home or anywhere else. This is especially handy for larger appliances and design objects such as furniture.

So basically, how it works is that you can choose an item, let’s say a white marble dining room table, you then click on the camera button on the top right-hand corner of your Amazon app and then the piece will essentially be made visible in the room so that you can see if it fits in as well as you hoped it might.

It makes online shopping much easier and gives consumers a great sense of relief. They can shop with confidence and assurance that whatever they’ve picked will look great in their home.

For more information on Amazon AR View, click here.

Ikea Place

Furniture is also what the next industry giant is all about: IKEA. The "Ikea Place" app allows users to try out and move the catalog of the Swedish cult furniture store directly within their own four walls.

It’s a useful tool for anyone trying to imagine how the piece of furniture they are interested in would look in real life. It saves you the hassle of ordering the item, then seeing that it doesn't fit in, and then needing to send it back. Of course, it isn’t a foolproof system. In the end, the piece can still leave you disappointed after arrival. It is not the purpose of AR applications to mitigate all kinds of returns. Yet, they certainly help those who benefit from visual aids. It’s easier to imagine how a cupboard or a table would look if you’ve seen an almost perfect example through AR. And this should give clients more confidence to order something online, as well as reduce the risk of returns.

Download the app on the Apple Store here and see for yourself how it works.

Saatchi Art

The notorious Saatchi Art empire has launched their own AR feature allowing online visitors to take a look at the artwork that Saatchi has to offer.

Across paintings, photography, prints and drawings, Saatchi offers artwork across many mediums. Saatchi has invested in AR technology that gives their online visitors the possibility to see how the piece they are interested in, would actually look when hung up in their own home.

This has made the elite world of art more accessible than ever before. No longer needing to imagine how a piece might look hung above your fireplace, you can now make use of the app and see exactly how it will look.

Download the app on the Apple Store here.

Warby Parker

Virtual try-ons with Warby Parker. Try on a variety of different glasses to find your perfect fit.

The cutting-edge genius that is Warby Parker is beyond us. They already came up with such a clever marketing ploy, allowing their customers the 5 by 5 rule. Order 5 different spectacles, keep them for 5 days, and if you don’t like them, simply send them back. Now, we both know that the chances of you not liking 1 of the 5 options you chose is pretty slim. So, that’s already so clever, they almost guarantee a sale through this process.

And now they have managed to make this even more secure. Warby Parker has introduced an AR feature that allows consumers to virtually try on their spectacles. This means that the 5 you intend to have shipped to you, you can actually try on before, which means that chances are you’re going to be able to pick the top 5 that suit you and then most likely keep at least 3 of those 5.

Yes, some have said that this app reminds them of a Snapchat filter, but what is wrong with that? It’s a great way for consumers to be able to envision how they will look with their new glasses, take screenshots and send to friends for their approval before making the purchase. Not bad at all.

Download the app on the Apple Store here and start trying out glasses for yourself.


Taking confidence and beauty products by storm! Sephora represents many beauty brands that offer a large spectrum of shades and options for all their different clientele. For a beauty retail store that makes sales of about 5 billion dollars a year, you can understand why the brand is trying to capitalize on their offering, which is so in demand.

With the Sephora Virtual Artist, you can essentially become your very own make-up artist. Your face can be scanned, and then you can choose which shade of lipstick, base, foundation, eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil etc. you’d like to try. Pop a deep red on your lips and see if you think it suits you. If it does, pop the item in your basket and either have it delivered or take advantage of their ‘click & collect’ options.

Download the app on the Apple Store here.

Download the app on the Google Play Store here.

Benefits of AR websites

All these companies have invested a lot of time and money into making their websites and apps as useful for their online customers as possible. Some might say that this comes from the desire to make more sales, which would be a fair point. However, we are leaning toward the fact that it is a development that we are only just truly starting to understand, and it simply being a pure sale tactic is not something we can believe. Of course, we cannot go into the minds of these companies. However, we do think introducing augmented reality into their offerings has created a few benefits all round:

  • The possibility of fewer returns, thus reducing the negative environmental footprint that returns have on the earth.
  • Fewer customer service issues, as online visitors can pre-view the products they want easily and will have fewer negative remarks than purchasing something using only an image to go off.
  • Higher customer satisfaction – using an AR-powered tool means that the consumer will experience a more enjoyable online user experience and feel more confidence in their purchasing decision as it is as informed as it possibly can be.
  • Positive PR and image, as your company is seen as being on the forefront of innovation and you will certainly pick up media mentions (like the one you are reading right now), when offering forward-thinking features like AR.


We’re Shopify Partners, so we might be a bit biased here, but one closing opportunity that we’d like to point out is that Shopify also supports AR development. Shopify AR is, in our opinion, an incredibly important component of the future system landscape. With Shopify AR, the Canadian-based E-Commerce company is making it very easy for its 500,000+ merchants in 175 countries to make their catalog available in augmented reality.

Should you wish to get in touch with us about going into the AR sphere, please pop us an email on hello@especial.digital or contact us through our contact form here on our website.

Found this helpful? Share this post with your colleagues and friends

Daniel Kolb
Written by

Daniel Kolb

Product Development @ Especial

Subscribe to our Newsletter now!

Stay up to date with all our exciting news! We look forward to sending you useful and helpful information for all your e-commerce tech needs. Enjoy our Especial content, created 'E-specially' for you.
By filling in your email, you agree to our privacy policy.


Would you like to know more?

Let us help you!