"We're still a long way from a world in which artificial intelligence (AI) is used in all web shops. Nevertheless, AI has the potential to trigger a huge shift when it comes to the traditional online flow."

Richard Birksteiner, CTO


AI and AR are changing e-commerce

Shop habits revealed and offline experiences


Offline product experiences and the right online flow

We're still a long way from a world in which artificial intelligence (AI) is used in all web shops. Nevertheless, AI has the potential to trigger a huge shift when it comes to the traditional online flow. Creating personae on the basis of target group research: while still effective, it is nowhere near as accurate as AI-based persona formation. With AI, guiding online visitors to the right product becomes a great deal easier. But yes, still online. What if you combine AI with augmented reality (AR)? The 'offline' product experience and the right online flow. 

Today's users desire personalization. Research shows that 25% of online shoppers are more inclined to return to a web shop when their shopping experience is personalized. That's not surprising. After all, while a day out shopping can be great fun, nobody wants to spend that long shopping online on the sofa. With AI, customers can find the right product much faster, meaning less time trawling the internet.  

'Offline' experiences with the online speed 

Augmented reality can be used in countless ways within e-commerce. For instance, with the Wehkamp app customers can get an idea of how a sofa would look in their living room. Incidentally, this is something the IKEA app has already offered for some time. After all, let's be honest, when you buy a piece of furniture in the shop, you can never be sure whether it will look right in your home. By using AR in this way, the large furniture providers remove this element of uncertainty.  

E-commerce giant Alibaba has taken this a lot further with their Buy+ app, which allows for virtual reality shopping. Instead of shopping ON your smartphone, you shop WITH your smartphone. And of course, with a virtual reality headset. Online shopping is experienced as if you were in a brick-and-mortar shop, browsing the different products. However, to buy items you have to briefly leave the app. Clearly, this disrupts the virtual experience. But yes, forward-thinking Alibaba realizes this. And they seem to have come up with a solution for so-called virtual payments: paying for products with a nod of the head, followed by a password, which can also be entered with a head movement. An 'offline' experience with the speed of online.  

Augmented reality and artificial intelligence are both highly promising technological developments. With AR, customers experience a product in a way that would never be possible in a web shop, while AI is used to present the right product to the right customer. We're heading towards a completely revolutionary shopping experience, known as “The next shopping experience”. The AI and AR combination results in innovative experiences and a totally personalized product range. With the Buy+ app, customers still have to pass through the whole shop, but AI offers the option to reduce the product selection - through personalization - to a single department.  

The next shopping experience 

'The next shopping experience' can add value in multiple ways. For instance, it will increase conversion due to better and more personal results. And because, through AR, the product can be viewed from every possible angle and in some case even 'worn', the number of returns will decrease. No more generic personae, but a complete picture of what an individual visitor wants. Naturally, this provides the perfect basis for personalized advertising  

The majority (87%) of consumers are prepared to supply personal information in exchange for a better online shopping experience. Obviously, this only concerns information provided by the customer themselves, but what if a web shop knew exactly what a customer wanted to buy before he or she even typed it in? And if the combination of AI and AR can bring the physical shopping experience online, what will this mean for brick-and-mortar shops? 

Is an app like Buy+ possible, or even useful, for every web shop? Probably not. Consumers won't immediately want to exchange the 'classic’ web shop experience for a virtual experience. What's more, nobody has a VR headset continually to hand. Nevertheless, the combination of AI and AR offers a great many opportunities, if applied in small steps within your web shop.  

Curious about the application of AI and AR within your e-commerce platform?

At rb2 we frequently apply digital trends to the development of e-commerce platforms. We are looking forward to see what AI and AR can mean for the development of your e-commerce platform.

Do you want to know more about Richard?

Since 2005 Richard has been a co-founder of rb2. He has always been interested in digital trends and developments. It originated at the age of 8 from behind its MSX home computer and never left. In his role as CTO, he is responsible for the technology at rb2.


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