Sales enablement software firm Showpad has released what it describes as an AR e-commerce tool that will let B2B buyers get a closer look and feel at what they’re purchasing and how it might work in their organization.
Using Apple’s ARKit, the AR e-commerce tool allows sales people to develop models that are projected through Showpad’s iOS app. This could be particularly helpful in demonstrating large, complex products such as robotic arms, medical devices, construction equipment, compressors or other machinery, Showpad said.
Today’s B2B buyers are acting more like consumers, and they expect an interactive and convenient selling experience while making important purchases, said Showpad chief revenue officer Don Matejko. However, today’s B2B sales processes don’t match up to the streamlined B2C buying process.
“Buyers want a visual, immersive, and self-guided buying experience that businesses can’t always deliver,” he told B2B News Network. “If AR can substitute an in-person trip to see a physical product, then the buyer is going to choose that sales journey over another competitor.”
According to Matejko, AR e-commerce has the potential to accelerate the sales cycle and increase active selling time. By placing products in context, AR not only delivers an immersive experience but also helps the buyer more quickly appreciate the product’s value, he said.
“Not to mention that AR eliminates the time and expense tied to keeping physical products in a brick and mortar environment,” he added.
While some consumer brands, such as Ikea, have used AR to help buyers imagine what an item might look like at home, Showpad believes AR e-commerce is just the first area in which augmented reality could bring value to B2B environments. Other examples include the assembly and maintenance of complex products, on-site support from experts in the field as well as safety, logistics and labor.
Showpad is coming out with AR e-commerce at a time when more attention has arguably been given to virtual reality (VR), but Matejko emphasizes the differences between the two technologies.
“Augmented reality overlays virtual 3D graphics onto our real world, augmenting the actual room we occupy. Virtual reality, however, places us into a synthetic atmosphere and provides a less realistic sensory experience for the consumer,” he said. “Most buyers that purchase complex products desire a close-to-accurate experience that mirrors the actual space as closely as possible and AR is currently meeting that need. But as we see more companies invest in inside sales, VR could be a powerful tool to create even more immersive buying experiences.”
The augmented reality features are supported on Showpad’s iOS application, which already tracks engagement with sales materials, Matejko added. Showpad’s analytics can track how often salespeople use the AR feature in the field and if it contributed to a closed deal. That means businesses can see exactly how AR improves sales revenue and plays a role in their selling process.