The use of augmented reality immediately raises an e-commerce brand to a completely new level.
A customer who has tried AR-enhanced shopping once will look forward to other similar experiences and will rather prefer AR-driven commerce to traditional methods.
The main advantage is the possibility to try the item on before purchase, to see how it will look and feel in the real-life situation.
By trying the product on virtually, the customer, on one hand, saves the time on visiting the store and, on the other hand, avoids the trouble of returning the purchase if it does not fit.
Naturally, the e-commerce brands and platforms are keeping their ears to the ground and roll out new AR-based features, which immediately attract customers.
In November 2017, Amazon made the news by launching a new feature with its augmented reality shopping application – Amazon AR View.
It immediately made a lot of buzzes, even despite certain compatibility restrictions – the AR feature runs only on iPhone 6 or higher and requires iOS 11.
Currently, Amazon AR View is not the only app integrating augmented reality in retail. Customers can also shop for furniture with IKEA Place or browse about half a million house items available in the Houzz catalog.
No doubt augmented reality is a perfect solution especially for the furniture and home decor sector, as this is where it is important to “place” the item before you buy it.
Read also: Augmented Reality in Retail: Market Overview
How does Amazon AR View work?
In short, the AR View allows placing the item from the shopping catalog to your actual environment.
Do you want to know if the cupboard fits into your existing furniture set?
Just tap the AR View icon and point the smartphone camera where you wish to set the cupboard. It will appear there as if by magic.
Or, if you are not sure whether the vase you set your sights on will match the color scheme of your living room, try placing the vase virtually before going ahead and purchasing it.
You can zoom and rotate looking at the item from all sides and sizing it up. Such virtual experience is a useful addition to the augmented reality shopping app, as it not only provides entertainment but has a practical value.
No wonder many e-commerce platforms are now working on the development of augmented reality app like Amazon AR View to add a new dimension to their shopping experience.
In our article, we will look into the anatomy of AR apps and see how much an augmented reality application development may cost.
From our experience of building AR-based applications, we can put together the set of components, which are needed to build an app similar to Amazon AR View and estimate the time and cost that the development of such AR application may take.
AR App Development from A to Z
In fact, the development of an AR-enhanced application goes along the same road as the development of any other app.
However, the difference is that, with AR being a new and very advanced technology, to get a truly working feature-rich AR app, you need to find skilled professional developers who know how to create augmented reality applications or assign this task to a reputed augmented reality development company.
In any case, the project will involve the usual primary stages: design, development, and testing.
Let’s look at the specifics of each stage in the context of augmented reality application development.
Image credit: MacStories
At the design stage, the project team defines the development scope, creates wireframes and prototypes, puts together the technology stack and plans the development by iterations.
Besides, since the AR applications are developed for mobile devices, the team should decide whether they would create an app for iOS, Android, or both.
Certainly, the most reasonable way is to make an app that could run on both iOS and Android. Nevertheless, this is going to increase the AR app development cost and time.
Since AR-based applications heavily rely on graphics functionality, it is going to be the core of the whole app.
On the whole, the augmented reality app development includes the following functional components:
- E-commerce platform, including the catalog, the search engine, and the checkout;
- Augmented reality component, including object and environment recognition, UI gesture control, object placing;
- Snapshot and video recording functionality;
- Cloud storage.
Optionally, the augmented reality application development scope may as well include other functions, such as social network integration for sharing.
Once the AR application scope if defined, the UX designer creates wireframes to finalize the user experience and to lay the foundation for UI development. Upon the scope and wireframe design approval, the development team can start working on the augmented reality app.
On average, the project design stage takes about 120-200 hours. The cost of an AR app design is approximately $18,000-$30,000.
Based on the project scope defined at the design stage, the development team starts the work.
For developing an AR-based application, they require a certain toolkit designed for creating augmented reality functions, as well as other tools and platforms for mobile app development.
Generally, the full cycle of a mobile application development takes about 18 weeks, including the front-end and the back-end.
Out of this estimate, we can single out the following components related particularly to building an Amazon-like augmented reality application for retail:
This set of features gives the online shopping functionality such as a goods catalog, a search engine, and a checkout function.
There are different development platforms designed mainly for the creation of online stores, for example, Magento or Shopify. One of them can be used to create a robust online shopping application.
Depending on the functional requirements, the e-commerce component may be more or less sophisticated.
You can include a powerful search functionality with autocompletion, filtering, search history.
An important feature is the checkout functionality that should provide integration with the main credit cards and payment systems, such as PayPal.
On average, the e-commerce component takes about 400-500 hours to develop.
Augmented reality component
This is the real jewel of the app. Thus, it requires particular attention and care.
Augmented reality is the thing, which makes your app different from hundreds of other online stores. Therefore, it simply has to look and work perfectly.
For the application to run on iOS, you can use the Apple ARKit, a development tools suite specially designed to create augmented reality applications.
This platform running on any iOS device with an A9 processor or later allows developing a whole range of AR functions:
- World recognition, allowing to detect flat surfaces in the real environment where the virtual object can be placed;
- Object detection, with which the orientation and position of objects can be identified;
- 3-D interactions, allowing object control with finger gestures.
These are just a few of the Apple ARKit features that may come in handy while creating an AR app.
Image credit: developer.apple.com
For the Android version of your app, you have a tool that is no less powerful. Google ARCore that is about to replace Google Tango is a dedicated platform for building AR applications for Android devices.
ARCore supports all the main features that are the “must-haves” of a top quality augmented reality app:
- Motion tracking, allowing to detect the device position in relation to the surrounding world;
- Environment understanding, through which the application identifies the points and flat surfaces in the surroundings;
- Light estimation, determining the degree of lighting in the real world and adapting the lighting of the virtual object accordingly;
- User interaction, supporting object control by the user.
Image credit: Readwrite
Depending on the complexity of the functionality, the development of the AR component can take from 500 to 600 hours.
Other functionality components that may be included in the AR app depend on the particular project.
For example, if you decide to implement the possibility of taking a snapshot of a virtual object placed in a real interior, that will add another 10 to 20 hours of development.
Social network integration that allows sharing of the content generated by the app requires 20 to 40 hours.
As we mentioned above, developing an augmented reality application takes about 18-20 weeks or 1050-1300 hours. The total AR app development cost is $105,000-$130,000.
Testing is a vital stage of every development project.
During testing, the team verifies that there are no errors in the application, that all its components are appropriately integrated and that the application performs as it was designed to.
There are several types of software testing which check out the application from different aspects:
- Functional testing, when the functional components are analyzed and compared to the initial specifications. At functional testing, the team verifies that the project has been implemented according to the specifications worked out at the planning stage.
- Integration testing, checking whether individual application components are integrated correctly, that they do not affect each other and that they exchange data as designed.
- Unit testing, where the application is broken down into the smallest units possible. Each unit is tested separately to verify its performance quality.
- Bug fixing, verifying that the errors found at previous stages are removed and that no other components have been affected in the process.
Some tests are run already at the development stage, thus enabling fixing errors immediately. At the same time, the entire application should also be tested.
Testing of the completed application can take up to 300 hours and cost approximately $30,000.
In addition to the tests run by the development team, you can as well run beta-testing. In beta-testing, the development company invites actual users to try a new application.
The advantage of beta-testing is that users can find drawbacks that the developers did not even think of looking for.
The users engaged in beta-testing are not influenced by the project specifications and simply use the app as it is supposed to be used. Beta-testing can give valuable feedback and suggest ideas for improvement.
Beta-testing usually runs for 3 or 4 weeks and costs nothing, as the users volunteer to participate.
Then, the total time required to build an augmented reality app is about 1600 hours, or from 5 to 6 months, depending on the app complexity and the scope of features to be included.
The total cost of developing an AR e-commerce application is in the range of $130,000-$160,000.
Over again, the total amount depends on the functionality scope.
Although it may seem at first that the time and cost required building an AR application are rather high, this is not without reason.
Adding augmented reality to an e-commerce application is done with the main aim of creating a new, individual and powerful customer experience.
This functionality should be given particular attention, as it is what engages the user from the second they open the application.
The application should perform as simply, smoothly and reliably as possible and should have that “wow” effect that we expect from new technology.
That is why the development of such complex application should be assigned to professionals who know how to make an augmented reality app. Certainly, their knowledge, skills, and experience have their cost, but this is going to be a very wise investment.
Jasoren had a chance to participate in a fascinating project where we created an augmented reality application for a hospitality network. The app, Cata AR, was used in a wine tasting event.
By pointing your smartphone camera at a special label placed near a glass of wine, you could also see an original wine bottle and a tasting note on your smartphone screen.
The app creates a very exquisite experience characteristic to the events of such kind.
For wine connoisseurs, it is essential to know the specifics of each sort they are tasting, and the app supplies all the necessary details.
With a professionally built augmented reality app, your business is going to obtain significant awareness and recognition among users.
Also, you may take advantage of viral marketing, as your users are going to share their experience encouraging more people to try a new way of online shopping.
Augmented reality can become a driving force for your e-commerce business. An ever-increasing number of brands adopt it to extend their reach to customers.
The key is to jump into this market early, and here the collaboration with a professional augmented reality company can become the crucial factor.
This way, you can be sure to get a unique product with excellent performance within the shortest time possible.
You can always get in touch with us for professional virtual and augmented reality consultation. We will help you with your project and answer any related questions.
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