Augmented Reality in Retail: Virtually Try Before You Buy

Augmented Reality (AR) helps online shoppers understand what they’re buying and accurately determine how items ranging from home decor products to cosmetics will suit them.

Augmented reality is not a new concept. Brands such as Converse were already experimenting with this immersive technology as early as 2012, allowing athletic shoe lovers to try on various pairs and see what they would look like on their feet.

But it wasn’t until 2016 that AR received the boost to establish itself as it should when Niantic launched Pokémon GO, a mobile video game using AR. And when marketers saw how engaged and near-obsessed people were with gaming (American daily users reached 28.5 million at its peak), the opportunity to harness AR for the marketing was needed.

Today, a host of brands are trying out the format. From Lowe’s to Wayfair to Benjamin Moore, AR has become a medium that allows users to contextually visualize what an item looks like and confirms its size and shape. And while the housing industry is at the forefront of AR use, there are opportunities for many other industries. Let’s go through some examples!

Augmented reality in the footwear sector to guarantee the acquisition of a perfectly adequate pair

While Converse has rapidly advanced in the footwear business with its Sample It app that lets consumers view the shoes on their feet, Nike has genuinely taken this concept to a whole new level by ensuring that the shoes consumers choose are theirs. Fit perfectly.

Nike Fit, a scanning app, uses a combination of computer vision, data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and recommendation algorithms to measure the complete shape of the user’s feet and infer the fit. Perfect for every style of Nike shoe.

The app collects 13 points on a person’s foot within seconds. This data can then be stored in a user’s NikePlus account for subsequent purchases, online and in-store.

“Nike Fit is an industry first: using digital technology to solve our customers’ friction,” Nike wrote in its press release when launching the app. “In the short term, Nike Fit will improve the way Nike designs, manufactures, and sells shoes – products better suited to the needs of consumers. A more precise fit can help with reduced shipping costs and returns to better performance. “

Augmented reality in the clothing industry to gain customer trust 

At the 2018 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Gap unveiled its DressingRoom by Gap app, created to help customers try on their clothes virtually. Buyers can choose an outfit they like and select one of five body types to visualize what the outfit will look like on them.

“The fashion industry hasn’t always been very much about helping people understand how clothes will fit on them,” the company wrote in its press release. “Gap is committed to earning the trust of its customers by showing them products that make them feel good, and we use technology to make it happen.”

Another excellent example of the use of AR in fashion occurred during New York Fashion Week 2018. Guests at the Moschino show and H&M show could use an AR app to scan the outfits showcased by mannequins on the catwalk and buy them on the spot.

Augmented reality in the jewellery and accessories sector to get a 3D glimpse of yourself. 

Jewellery, which has long been showcased behind a window, is another area where the benefits of AR are seen. One of the hottest brands around today is the online jewellery retailer Collection. Earlier this year, the merchant’s app had an AR feature called “Virtual Jewellery Tryon” allowing customers to virtually try on the jewellery.

Eyewear maker Warby Parker is also playing in the AR space, allowing people to see what a pair of eyewear looks like on their faces before making a purchase. The app, launched last February, is unique in that it doesn’t just allow users to snap photos of themselves to put on glasses. The glasses are rendered in a 3D preview directly on a person’s face, which means that users can turn their heads to see what a pair of glasses looks like from different angles.

Augmented reality in the cosmetics and beauty products sector to test different products virtually on the face

Makeup junkies who watch YouTube can now experience AR while watching their favorite tutorials. The interactive ad format works like this: You watch your famous blogger apply foundation. Suddenly a virtual try-on option appears on the screen, and you can see what you look like with the same product. MAC Cosmetics was one of the first brands to try out this new format.

AR is also proving useful in the physical retail environment as a more hygienic option for trying on makeup. Sephora is among the early adopters, both with its mobile app and in-store mirror, which allow users to see how different products look on their faces.

Augmented reality in the furniture and interior design sector to integrate elements into a space

DecorMatters is redefining the experience of interior design and furniture shopping. Users can completely transform any room in their home, from painting the walls to the furniture and accessories of their choice.

DecorMatters and other similar apps allow users to view furniture from Amazon, Wayfair, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, IKEA, Ashley, Target, Lamps Plus, Living Spaces, etc. In addition, the app’s augmented reality feature helps users measure the size of their room, providing a more accurate rendering in terms of the appearance and integration of different elements into their spaces.

The bright future of augmented reality

As technology evolves and gives users increasingly precise renderings of the appearance of digital objects in physical spaces, it is to be expected that more brands and industries will embrace augmented reality.

Whether it’s fashion, accessories, footwear, home decor, or more, AR can completely transform and rethink the customer experience. These innovations will help businesses connect better with consumers and allow shoppers to make more informed and accurate purchasing decisions, reducing shopping anxiety.

What is perhaps even more appealing to brands and online merchants, beyond the opportunity to convert, is AR’s ability to reduce the big drawback of merchandise returns. AR promises consumers a technological means to accurately and confidently confirm the size, figure, and shape, whether it’s a new pair of sneakers or a sofa that will integrate the living room. Lower return rates, especially for heavy or bulky items and bespoke products that cannot be easily resold, will be the panacea for increasing margins and profitability online.