We recently interviewed Evan Gappelberg, an accomplished entrepreneur and CEO of NexTech AR Solutions, which brings augmented reality (AR) to the masses by creating an AR ecosystem featuring eCommerce solutions for websites. We spoke a lot about augmented reality in eCommerce and you can read the complete interview below.
1. Augmented Reality (AR) isn’t just for gaming anymore! In a very short period of time, AR technology has come a long way and now, it is all poised to disrupt the future of industries like health care, books, retail, and of course eCommerce. It is said that augmented reality will revolutionize the eCommerce business with its ability to personalize and enhance the shopping experience for customers. Your company NexTech promises to bring the in-store experience to the home with a hologram, as well as a virtual “try-on at home” platform for every product. I am excited to know more…
NexTech is quickly building out the next generation, an industry first, web-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) based AR eCommerce solution. With AI integration the platform will be able to offer scanning of the body, hands, and feet as well as facial features, to understand an individual shopper’s style, sizes, and preferences, as well as creating AR holograms acting as personal shopping assistants. Nextech’s web-enabled AR platform allows small and large eCommerce websites to integrate AR into the shopping experience with just a few lines of embed code democratizing AR at scale and creating a true consumer platform.
The biggest hurdle online customers face is determining whether a certain product fits and is right for them. AR offers shoppers the confidence that will motivate online purchasing decisions. AR provides users with an in-store shopping experience, anytime and anywhere. Our AR platform superimposes 3D objects in various spaces, giving customers a chance to interact with digital twins from the comfort of their own homes. AR has been rapidly scaling into the eCommerce landscape through early adopters like IKEA whose app lets you see the furniture in your house by overlaying a digital twin of the object in your living room. However, the experience is limited to the IKEA app. Nextech’s platform allows all eCommerce websites to have this same capability no app required leveling the playing field for all eCommerce sites and opening up the floodgates for AR eCommerce shopping.
2. You say that with this new virtual “try-on at home” shopping experiences, returns of products will be reduced by as much as 80% and an increase in sales will be as much as 3X. What are the other benefits?
Another major benefit is that once the Nextech platform has recorded the size and shape of a person’s body, feet, hands as well as facial features using AI it can start to recommend to the consumer new products that would perfectly fit their body style creating a connection and trust between the customer and the brand, this used to have to take place in store. With the ability to easily try on products at home the shopping experience is truly transformed creating a frictionless shopping environment where the act of buying a product will become so effortless it happens with the push of one button or just by saying the word “BUY” out-loud…the perfectly fitting product showing up at your doorstep in a day or even an hour later. The ease of ordering built on the confidence of buying what you know fits, all powered by Nextech’s platform is a big step forward for eCommerce!
3. Tell us about the new integration with IBM Watson’s Machine Learning (ML) algorithms into your AR platform. Why Watson and how is it going to help your platform?
IBM Watson was the obvious choice for us as it allows for Nextech to leverage IBM’s decades’ long development of AI, even though AI is now taking the world by storm AI and ML is not new to IBM or Watson. With AI we will be able to offer many more features including AI chatbots, body scanning, facial recognition, as well as holograms that know your likes and dislikes. We are standing on the shoulders of Watson and the view is amazing!
4. NexTech’s web-enabled AR eCommerce solution works on every browser and on every device including desktops, laptops, iPods, and all mobile phones. It does not need an app installed to function. Tell us more about its features.
Nextech has filed a patent around its AR web-enabled eCommerce platform which has been integrated with Shopify, WordPress, and Magento. The AR can “go live” on any eCommerce site with just a few lines of embed code creating an easy to use a highly scalable platform. When we started looking at AR, we immediately saw the “wow” factor and application for eCommerce but also saw a hesitation of consumers to load another app on their mobile device. With our web-enabled AR eCommerce solution, we have eliminated that friction point which we believe will open the floodgates to AR shopping experiences worldwide, this truly is a game changer.
5. Every online retailer now wants to put an augmented reality feature online to gain a competitive advantage, because according to a study, approximately 40% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product, when they are offered an augmented reality experience. What are the key things one has to remember while integrating an AR feature into an online eCommerce store?
For eCommerce sites that are integrating AR, they should just be prepared for a lot of consumer excitement, questions, and sales. Consumers love what’s new and exciting and AR certainly fits that bill and with that, they become curious and will ask questions… so I would just make sure that customer service is ready to answer some of those questions. I would also be prepared for sales going up and with that in mind have a bit more inventory of those items being sold with our AR. I would also make sure that the right expectations are met meaning AR works if the intention is to show how a painting or flat screen TV looks on a wall or a how a table and chairs look in a kitchen or even how new doorknobs or a new bicycle looks then AR will work really well for that.
6. Tell us about your plans. And what is going to be the future of AR in the next five years?
Nextech didn’t create the AR economy it was Apple, Google, Microsoft and NVIDIA and other large tech companies that have invested billions into this technology over the past few years and they aren’t slowing the level of investment, in fact, it is accelerating. The AR industry is expected to grow from around $20 billion in 2018 to $120 billion by 2021 according to Statista, and we intend to be a part of that growth with our platforms.
AR adoption is moving very fast, starting in 2017 the AR industry began forming around APP’s and mobile devices, however we see a tectonic shift in the near future where no app is needed, the phone goes the way of the pager and a new device rises up and takes over the market called “smart glasses”. The “smart glasses” will allow for a truly amazing, mind-bending, fully immersive 3D experience where what’s “real” and what’s “virtual” truly merge and are indistinguishable…over time this will become the new norm starting in 2019/2020…by 2025 phones will be obsoleted. Nextech is unique in that it’s building its AR technology on the web which means all its technology will work seamlessly with the next generation of products which is huge. Nextech wants the first AR enhanced product a consumer sees to be powered by our Nextech platform.