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How AR shopping is Transforming eCommerce

newsApril 8, 2021

This article has been written by David Roter, VP Global Agency and Brand Partnerships, Snap Inc. and Heather O'Shea, Marketing Science Lead, Snap Inc.

Augmented reality (AR) is redefining the future of shopping and brand experiences. It empowers people to experience brands and products up close without needing to go to a store, enabling the ability to comfortably “try before you buy” and comparison shop with ease. For brands, AR is an incredibly powerful tool and helps solve business challenges — from reducing return rates to increasing loyalty with immersive experiences — AR unlocks avenues to reach potential customers far beyond traditional eCommerce offerings. The ongoing rise of smartphone ownership and camera usage enhances the impact of augmented reality for brands. Helen Papagiannis, the author of Augmented Human, details these trends in an article published in Harvard Business Review [1] . Her conclusion is that “AR has proven that it can add enormous value for consumers in the shopping journey”. Over the past year, Snapchat has been experimenting with Shoppable AR formats and evaluating the role of augmented reality as a performance channel, going beyond entertainment and fun to a true utility that drives business results. Our findings outline the immense opportunity for brands to amplify their eCommerce strategy and equip their business for these consumer habits of the future.

How Brands Are Already Leveraging Augmented Reality 

Augmented reality is truly a full-funnel format. Brands leverage AR on Snapchat to enable conversation about their brand, invite people into an immersive experience, facilitate product try-on and in-home-visualization, and activate useful formats for education. As such, we’ve found that augmented reality delivers full funnel performance. Through a global meta-analysis with research firm Kantar, we identified that when Snapchat CPG campaigns include an AR Lens, they drive 2.5x growth in ad awareness and 1.1x lift in action intent compared to Kantar's global CPG market norms benchmarks[2]. This trend holds true for the retail category as well - when Snapchat retail campaigns include an AR Lens, they drive 2x growth in ad awareness and 2x lift in action intent compared to Kantar's global retail market norms benchmarks [3]. Beyond brand lift, augmented reality campaigns also deliver significant ROI. In the US, Snap partnered with NCSolutions to analyze over 2 years of Snapchat CPG campaigns. We learned that campaigns that include AR Lenses demonstrated a 46% higher lift in penetration on average compared to campaigns without Lenses and drove 14% more incremental sales [4]. This inflated growth of incremental sales indicates that highly engaging branded AR experiences can convert users more quickly than traditional media formats.

Augmented reality is also gaining ground as the future of product trial and try-on. Nearly 200 million Snapchatters engage with AR every day [5], and 46% have used AR or VR as a virtual shopping tool. And interest continues to climb - nearly 8 in 10 are interested in visualizing products in the space around them as a way to enhance their shopping experiences [6]. We’ve built a behavior of daily AR use in the Snapchat camera, and consumers are ready to fully embrace this technology as a part of how they shop and compare products.

Shoppable AR Formats We Are Testing at Dentsu

In 2020, we began deeper testing of Shoppable AR formats as we recognized a desire for our audience to interact with brands while safely staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We partnered with select advertisers, including dentsu clients, to test these formats over Q3 and Q4 of 2020. We developed tools like SnapML that offer users the ability to try on products such as shoes, sunglasses and makeup directly within Snapchat’s camera and seamlessly make a transaction if they like what they see. These immersive experiences have delivered outsized results for participating advertisers. 9 out of 10 of these campaigns drove an increase in ad awareness [7], and because of the immersive experiences the camera allows for, we’ve seen these Product Experience Lens campaigns were 2x as likely to drive Intent lift than Snapchat Q3-Q4 Norms [8].

Notably, dentsu partnered with Snapchat for two recent best-in-class shoppable AR campaigns. Gucci embarked on their first-ever global AR shoe “try-on” campaign, using SnapML technology to let Snapchatters virtually try on Gucci shoes. After seeing how they looked in the brand’s latest sneakers, Snapchatters were able to purchase the shoes directly from the Lens via a “Shop Now” button, generating positive ROAS as a result [9]. Using their Business Profile as their virtual storefront, Dior (LVMH) launched several new Lenses for their B27 sneaker launch that delivered 3.8X ROAS for their overall campaign [10].

Augmented reality is no longer simply an experiment. For many marketers, it’s becoming a core element of their eCommerce strategy. The wide variety of AR formats can be activated to achieve marketing objectives throughout the funnel, and as more consumers seek out AR shopping experiences, brands have an opportunity to own shoppable innovation within their category with a high rate of proven success. Platforms like Snapchat are best positioned to help retailers tap into this powerful new format. We have a highly engaged audience of 265 million daily active users [11], nearly 200 million of which engage with AR on a daily basis [12]. We’ve evolved our AR products to address utility and commerce in response to consumer needs and we make it easy for advertisers to build creative through our best-in-class creative strategy team and free turnkey products like Lens web builder. This brings newfound opportunities for brands to cut-through the clutter and achieve growth while future-proofing their approach to eCommerce.


[1] Source: Helen Papagiannis, “How AR is redefining retail in the pandemic”, Harvard Business Review, October 2020

[2] Source: Kantar Snapchat CPG campaign brand lift meta-analysis commissioned by Snap, Inc., February 2021

[3] Source: Kantar Snapchat Retail campaign brand lift meta-analysis commissioned by Snap, Inc., February 2021

[4] Source: NCSolutions CPG Reaction studies Q1 2017 - Q4 2019

[5] Source: Snap Inc. Internal data Q1 2020. See Snap Inc. public filings with the SEC.

[6] Source: Alter Agents study commissioned by Snap, Inc.; May 2020

[7] Source: Snap Inc. internal data as of February 2021

[8] Source: Snap Inc. internal data as of February 2021

[9] Snap Inc. internal data June 28-August 17, 2020

[10] Source: Data from Snap Ads Manager as of October 29 - December 20, 2020. Lookback window: 28 days post-swipe, 1 day post-view.

[11] Source: Snap Inc. internal data Q4 2020 vs. Q4 2019. See Snap Inc. public filings with the SEC.

[12] Source: Snap Inc. Internal data Q1 2020. See Snap Inc. public filings with the SEC.