- Shopify added software tools to its platform to help brands and merchants create augmented reality (AR) images of products for their online stores, the company announced in a blog post. The toolkit comes as Apple rolls out iOS 12, its latest mobile operating system that includes expanded support for AR, which overlays digital images on a real background through a smartphone.
- Shopify, the mobile commerce platform that powers the websites of more than 500,000 merchants, introduced a services marketplace of tech partners that specialize in creating 3D models, a 3D Warehouse App to store those models and an easy way to integrate Apple's AR Quick Look, which makes it easier for iPhone users to see immersive images in the Safari web browser, without the need for a separate app download.
- Furniture e-tailer Horne and bicycle merchant Pure Cycles are among the Shopify customers who tested the AR shopping experiences in their mobile websites, according to the blog post. Horne lets customers use the immersive feature to see how furniture will look in their homes, while Pure Cycles offers 3D models of its products that shoppers can more closely inspect before purchasing.
Shopify's support for AR likely will help smaller brands and retailers create more immersive and media-rich experiences for customers without spending a fortune on developing an app or a high-end mobile website. Many major brands have experimented with similar mobile AR tech and incorporated it into their marketing campaigns, either through apps, browsers or platforms like Instagram or Snapchat. 7-Eleven, Adidas, Coty and Domino's have unveiled AR features for smartphone users in the past few months, pointing to the growth in the space as more shoppers turn to mobile devices to discover and research products.
The Shopify additions come as AR tech reaches a wider audience, especially with key support from giants likes Apple and Google, both of which have developed their own software development kits for app developers to more easily create mobile AR features. Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed AR's potential to revolutionize how people use technology to interact with their surroundings through a smartphone. With this week's introduction of iOS 12, Apple's Safari browser has the capability to provide AR experiences on mobile web pages, removing the friction of requiring customers to download a separate app to interact with digital objects.
In the past year, Shopify has worked to beef up its mobile commerce capabilities to keep merchants on the platform and continue to encourage shoppers to return to browse and buy. Shopify launched a free mobile app in June that connects to the messaging apps its merchants already use, including Facebook Messenger and Chatkit, to streamline their customer service conversations into a single location. This aimed to let Shopify merchants interact with customers through social media, their respective online storefronts, email and more all in the same interface, further helping merchants run their businesses through smartphones as mobile commerce continues to heat up.