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Step Inside: Augmented Reality in Retail

Posted on 7.10.2016

For e-commerce retailers, it's not just about mimicking an in-store shopping experience online anymore, it's about leveraging new technology that can expand what can even happen in the real world.

Savvy retailers are leveraging augmented reality - a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video or graphics - to help shoppers find the best fit (which can increase conversions and reduce returns), discover the right products for them (providing a personalized experience that can improve average order values and customer loyalty) and even virtually try on products. 

Here are four examples of retailers investing in augmented reality and why it should pay off for them. 

Furniture Visualizer

Jerome’s Furniture recently launched a furniture visualizer app powered by Cimagine called “Jerome’s Augmented Reality.” It enables customers to virtually place furniture in their home to help make buying decisions. The app automatically scans the users' room and overlays the products in realistic 3-D, depicting the size and aesthetic of the furniture in that specific room. 

Why it works: With higher price points, furniture is an investment and finding the right pieces can be difficult. Jerome's now gives shoppers the chance to visualize items in their homes as well as feel confident in their buying decisions, which can increase the chances they'll go ahead and checkout.

Makeup Applicator

Urban Decay recently joined an impressive list of beauty companies now using ModiFace's facial tracking and augmented reality technology. The Vice Lipstick application allows users to try 100 Urban Decay Vice lipstick shades on their live video, and to swipe left or right to choose their ideal shades. They can also create a collage of multi-lipstick looks and to share their favorite to social media.

Why it works: With the technology, customers not only get ultra-realistic renderings of what their purchases will look like on them, but retailers also get supplemental coverage when shoppers share their looks on social media. User-generated content is known to be more trust-worthy than any content brands can create and share. 

Virtual Fitting Room

Using Webcam Social Shopper (WSS), retailers can allow online customers to place the clothes they select in front of them using their computer's camera so they can find the right products for them. 

WSS is also promoting its product for real-world use like at a Web conference where attendees could "try on" items at a kiosk. Once they tried on the item and were ready to buy it, they could pay for the item via PayPal and then pick up the clothing at the booth. The company is looking to add beacon technology to improve both its WSS for Kiosks software and bolster its new in-store Virtual Dressing Room technology that is coming soon.

Why it works: The interactive nature of the product has the potential to increase customer engagement as it's a fun experience that could encourage more repeat purchases.

Find Your Fit

Recently acquired by Rakuten, Fits.me can create a fit recommendation solution for retailers. With Fits.me, Henri Lloyd, for instance, could offer its online customers the products most suited to their individual body shape and preferences while they shop. Henri Lloyd, a British retail brand, saw an increase in 57 percent in conversions from first-time buyers who use the fit recommendation tool. Additionally, shoppers who use the fit recommendation solution before completing checkout have a garment returns rate of just 4.5 percent, compared to 15.3 percent for shoppers who don’t.

Why it works: Not only does the fit recommendation tool increase buyer confidence and reduce return rates, but it also speaks to an industry trend of allowing shoppers to "self-help," as they complete a quick survey about their clothing preferences and receive a recommendation just for them without needing to consult live chat, reviews, Q&As, etc., to feel confident about their purchase decision.

While we're in the beginning stages of retailers using augmented reality to improve the online shopping experience, the technology is already here. It's up to e-commerce sites to invest in it and ensure the right integrations are there with their platforms because hiccups in inventory levels (like customizing a product or trying something on only for it to be unavailable), reporting (e.g., conversion rates, bounce rates) and even how personal preferences are used for future marketing and the content served to customers can negate the positive impact it can have for retailers and their customers.


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