(This article was first published on August 30, 2023, and last updated on February 02, 2024.)
In the ever-evolving world of ecommerce, the next major trend is always just a technological heartbeat away. The year 2023 has been a testament to the rapid integration of Artificial Intelligence and Generative AI into the ecommerce sector. Now, we are on the cusp of another revolutionary leap: Spatial Commerce. This emerging trend is set to transform our shopping habits fundamentally, seamlessly blending the digital and physical realms of retail, and significantly reducing return rates.
Is this intriguing to you? Then 2024 is the ideal time to delve into this burgeoning trend and prepare your online store for 3D and Mixed Reality integration.
The convergence of the real and virtual worlds has been in the making for quite some time. With the advent of broadband technologies like 5G and significant advancements in hardware (for instance, Apple Vision Pro), the path is being cleared for a multi-billion-dollar industry that has been gearing up since the early 2010s. As per PwC, AR and VR currently contribute approximately 300 million US dollars to the global economy, a figure projected to escalate to 1.5 billion USD by 2030 .
Spatial Commerce exemplifies the diversity and practicality of increasing virtualization. From straightforward 3D product visualizations to innovative, immersive shopping experiences like virtual try-ons and augmented reality (AR) product placements, the possibilities are expanding. Shopware, leading the charge among major ecommerce platforms, is actively developing tools to bring Spatial Commerce to a broad merchant base in 2024.
In this blog post, you will discover the essence of the Spatial Commerce hype, upcoming ecommerce use cases, both imminent and long-term, and the upcoming virtualization features that Shopware is set to unveil shortly.
Understanding Spatial Commerce: The emerging "next big thing" in ecommerce
Spatial Commerce is an innovative ecommerce model that leverages spatial technologies to enhance the online shopping journey. It integrates 3D visualization, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR), allowing customers to experience products in a three-dimensional context.
The concept of Spatial Commerce doesn't have a clear single inventor. One of the early adopters is IKEA with its "Place" app, which, since the mid-2010s, has allowed customers to virtually position furniture in their homes using a smartphone app. These initial forays into AR were a step towards, but not yet a complete, seamless shopping experience. While they integrated the spatial aspect – the inclusion of the user's environment – they lacked in commerce functionality, such as the ability to configure, add to cart, and complete purchases.
The true potential of Spatial Commerce unfolds when it merges both spatial and commerce elements into a single user-friendly interface, transforming it into a practical and highly promising online shopping method with substantial benefits for merchants.
Delving deeper, why is Spatial Commerce poised to be the next significant trend in ecommerce? The answer lies in the growth of the spatial computing market, which includes Spatial Commerce. This market, covering technologies like AR and VR, is expected to witness an annual growth rate exceeding 19% from 2023 to 2032 . Factors fueling this growth include the rising popularity of AR and VR hardware, expected to exceed 10 million headset sales in 2023 , the broader digital transformation trend, and the post-COVID-19 surge in remote and virtual technology adoption.
Another sign of Spatial Commerce's impending impact in 2024 is its uptake by leading companies across major commercial sectors. Beyond IKEA's home and furniture market, fashion and cosmetic giants like Sephora and Yves Saint Laurent are exploring Spatial Commerce. They are enabling customers to virtually try on makeup or lipstick using web or smartphone cameras, enhancing the pre-purchase experience.
A critical driver for Spatial Commerce's adoption is its potential to address the persistent challenge of product returns in ecommerce. On average, 18% of online purchases are returned , with rates soaring to 40% in the clothing industry . These returns have a staggering economic impact, estimated at around 550 million US dollars globally. In contrast, the rate of goods returned in physical retail stores is markedly lower, ranging from 8 to 10% . Consequently, merchants have a substantial inherent motivation to improve this aspect of their business.
Spatial Commerce offers a solution, as evidenced by Macy's halving its furniture returns through a 3D configurator and Warby Parker reducing eyewear returns by 35% with virtual try-ons. Converse also reported a 20% drop in returns thanks to virtual shoe trials, showcasing the technology's ability to significantly lower return rates and its transformative impact on the ecommerce landscape .
Implementing Spatial Commerce in 2024 and beyond: Transforming ecommerce with real-world applications
Let's cut to the chase and explore tangible examples of Spatial Commerce in action. How will this reshape the shopping experience of tomorrow? Let's delve into some compelling scenarios.
1. Breathing life into products with 3D visualizations and AR
Spatial Commerce is transforming online furniture and home decor shopping by offering an immersive, interactive experience that transcends traditional online catalogs.
Imagine redesigning your living room with a few clicks, experimenting with various furniture pieces and color schemes, all without physically moving any item. With AR and 3D rendering, customers can visualize products in real-time within their actual space, test different arrangements, tweak colors, and observe the interplay of light and furniture throughout the day.
2. Trying on personal styles virtually to discover the ideal product
Spatial Commerce is revolutionizing the fashion industry, particularly evident in eyewear shopping. Virtual try-ons have made selecting glasses more enjoyable and user-friendly.
The online eyewear shopping challenge has always been visualizing how glasses look and fit in reality. Spatial Commerce closes this gap with AR, enabling customers to virtually try on different frames in real time, bypassing the need to visit a physical store.
Virtual try-ons in an online eyewear store
3. Breaking barriers in clothing purchases with precise body measurement
Spatial Commerce introduces precise body measurement, like shoe size determination, revolutionizing the online apparel and footwear shopping experience.
Determining the correct shoe size online is often tricky. Spatial Commerce overcomes this through AR, allowing customers to scan their feet using their smartphones for accurate sizing. This precision enables a perfect fit, addressing a significant uncertainty in online shoe shopping.
4. Economical virtual showrooms reducing the need for costly product photoshoots
Spatial Commerce is not only enhancing the customer experience but also providing substantial benefits for businesses in product presentation. The adoption of 3D models and virtual displays presents products innovatively and cost-effectively, reducing the need for expensive product photography.
Traditional product photography involves significant costs, including logistics, studio, and editing. Spatial Commerce provides a viable alternative with high-quality 3D visualizations, customizable for diverse uses without requiring physical samples or elaborate photoshoots.
5. Previewing customizable products virtually before purchase
Spatial Commerce is revolutionizing ecommerce, especially in showcasing customizable products. Virtual previews and live 3D rendering allow customers to not just view but experience their future products in a personalized, interactive setup before making a buying decision.
The standout feature here is real-time product configuration and customization. Customers can experiment with various colors, materials, components, and even their designs to create products that align perfectly with their preferences. This personalized approach, combined with instant virtual previews, significantly enriches and personalizes the online shopping journey.
Real-time 3D renderings for design-your-own products
These scenarios are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Spatial Commerce's potential. As technology advances, especially with AI, Generative AI, and VR/AR hardware, a plethora of innovative shopping experiences awaits realization.
Advancing towards Spatial Commerce: Upcoming capabilities with Shopware
This section outlines the exciting Spatial Commerce features we are developing at Shopware, the updates anticipated for 2023, and what we have planned for early 2024.
Enhanced support for 3D product visualizations:
Shopware is soon enabling the upload of 3D renderings in the admin for use on product detail pages. Moreover, users will have the cutting-edge ability to project these 3D images into their real-world surroundings using AR, like through their smartphones.
Augmented Reality for mobile devices with QR code activation:
When accessing a Shopware shop with Spatial Commerce functionalities on mobile devices, users can integrate 3D renderings with their camera feed. This feature enables placing products in real environments and facilitates comprehensive 360-degree interaction. Merchants can also engage customers further by embedding QR codes on desktop product detail pages, prompting users to scan and view products in AR.
Availability of Spatial Commerce features to the Shopware community:
The fundamental feature set we're developing will be accessible to developers through the Shopware Community Edition. This initiative allows third-party developers to harness these resources for their own Shopware app development.
3D renderings within Shopware Shopping Experiences:
We're enhancing the capability to embed three-dimensional product displays in Shopware Shopping Experiences. This integration aims to significantly boost user engagement and time spent on storefronts.
3D scene editor for customized product settings:
Personalize product presentations using the upcoming 3D scene editor. This tool allows the placement of products against suitable backgrounds, fine-tuning of lighting and shadows, transforming basic product displays into compelling experiences that drive conversion rates.
As one of the most innovative ecommerce platforms, we're continually exploring the frontier of new technologies, including Spatial Commerce. While we're still determining which experimental features will be integrated into our Shopware 6 core, one thing is certain: we're committed to expanding the horizons of Spatial Commerce!
Summary and actionable steps
Spatial Commerce transcends being merely a trend; it's a groundbreaking innovation poised to revolutionize ecommerce. For merchants, it presents an unparalleled chance to elevate customer experiences, deepen engagement, reduce return rates, and ultimately drive higher sales. In an era increasingly embracing augmented and virtual reality, it's imperative for retailers to actively explore and integrate Spatial Commerce.
Merchants can gear up for Spatial Commerce by following these two key steps:
1. Evaluate your product and target audience compatibility with Spatial Commerce
Products where physical attributes are key (like fashion or furniture) are prime candidates for Spatial Commerce. Additionally, it's a boon for complex or customizable products, offering clearer explanations and presentations, thus making it a valuable tool in B2B commerce as well.
2. Opt for a Spatial Commerce compatible ecommerce platform
Investigate which ecommerce systems are at the forefront of Spatial Commerce, either actively developing features or already providing them. It's crucial to ensure that the provider genuinely commits to Spatial Commerce beyond mere marketing rhetoric, demonstrating serious and long-term investment in this area.
At Shopware, we are actively pioneering in Spatial Commerce. This year, we’re rolling out initial features like 3D product imaging and innovative augmented reality functionalities. Early 2024 will see the introduction of 3D renderings in Shopware Shopping Experiences and the deployment of the 3D scene editor.
Our dedication to advancing Spatial Commerce aligns perfectly with the vision of one of its major advocates, our CEO Stefan Hamann:
"As an innovation enthusiast, I am thrilled that 3D technology is becoming a fundamental component of Shopware. Our ambition is to continuously push and redefine the limits of digital commerce, with Spatial Commerce being our next frontier.”
– Stefan Hamann, Shopware Founder and Co-CEO
Discover the cutting-edge Spatial Commerce features of Shopware now and schedule your product demo today:
About the author: Vanessa Brauch, Shopware
As a former ecommerce consultant at FACT-Finder and Product Owner for shops as Fahrrad.de, addnature.com and at Internetstores Vanessa has seen many different perspectives: Software consultation, customer jobs and coordinating development. Armed with this expertise she was helping to shape especially the B2B product roadmap and making sure, Shopware delivers products that maximize customer value. She recently joined the Product Marketing Team at Shopware to foster product knowledge and helping to share our value propositions to all our audiences.