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Augmented reality (AR) creates engaging experiences for users by leveraging the smartphone camera to map a consumer’s surrounding environment and then overlaying aspects of the physical world with relevant, digital properties. This makes AR tech ideal for the retail space, as it can deliver a more immersive digital shopping experience by blending the online and in-store shopping journeys with virtual try-on experiences. Offering mobile apps is currently the most sought-after strategy for retailers looking to engage customers with AR experiences, but several hurdles — the high cost and difficulty of creating the experiences, along with the lack of widespread adoption of AR-compatible smartphones — are hurting adoption, especially among smaller brands.

Vertebrae, an AR solutions provider, launched a web-based AR commerce platform last month that seeks to resolve these pain points for retailers. The platform, called Axis, works to transform the existing product catalogs on companies' websites to include customizable 3D and AR experiences that consumers can use to virtually try on products. Business Insider Intelligence recently spoke with Vertebrae CEO and Founder Vince Cacace about how the company is working to equip all brands with AR experiences by moving beyond AR apps, and how it saw success in driving results for a small e-tailer during the platform's testing phase.

Challenge: Vertebrae wanted to create a platform that would help retailers of all sizes seamlessly offer immersive AR shopping experiences. With the launch of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore mobile AR platforms over the last year, retailers have looked to mobile AR apps to drive results. But since it's still costly and time-consuming to create high-fidelity AR mobile apps, they're really only an option for large retailers. And because mobile AR apps can only be accessed by consumers with smartphones that are compatible with Apple’s and Google’s AR platforms — ARCore is only available on select devices that run Android 7.0, while ARKit is available on iPhone 6S devices [...]