AR Poised to Connect Physical and Digital Retail in Fashion
How many times have you gone to buy an outfit or a pair of shoes online, and once it arrived, it either didn’t fit or looked completely different from what was depicted in the images? Even if your answer is “not often,” you likely had to go through the hassle of returning the merchandise afterward. It’s enough to sour you on buying fashion online forever, and therein lies a problem as more brick and mortar retail outlets make the transition to virtual online shopping and purchasing only. Even when it comes to stores that offer both online and physical shopping, it is simply easier for most of us to click our mouse a few times and have clothes delivered to our doorsteps.
So, what is the bridge between physically touching and trying on clothes and ordering fashion online going to be? To answer that question, more and more fashion organizations are switching to an augmented reality strategy.
What is Augmented Reality?
So, just what is augmented reality? Augmented reality, or AR for short, is the superimposing of digital components onto what we perceive as reality. In essence, augmented reality takes what you see and experience and adds to it. Think of the face filters on Instagram, and you have an idea of what AR is. The effect of face filters or more complex AR is achieved through viewing technology that is added to your smartphone or tablet or through special AR glasses.
The “augmented” experience is made possible because the technology layers digital information directly onto real objects. We perceive an enhanced environment or object because AR works to overlay our perceptions of reality with information gathered from computers.
AR Adds to the Virtual Shopping Experience
As seen in how what you order online doesn’t stack up to what is delivered to your home sometimes, there is an obvious disconnect between the digital data available and the physical world in which you apply it. That’s because reality is three-dimensional, and the data we have available to inform us and make our decisions and actions has been (up until now) trapped on the two-dimensional pages on our computer screens.
Brands that use augmented reality bypass perception disconnects and process physical and digital worlds at the same time, thereby removing the need to mentally bridge them both. This boosts a shopper’s ability to accurately and rapidly absorb information, make sound decisions and perform required tasks efficiently and quickly.
A recent survey shows the technology is really taking off and working favorably too, with 61% of shoppers surveyed saying they would rather shop at stores that offer augmented reality.
Augmented Reality Examples
AR strategy is benefiting many industries, and fashion, already one of the most innovative and fast-moving industries around, has caught on to the advantage augmented reality offers. The industry is using this emerging technology to remove any difference between online and offline shopping; rewards reported so far include enhanced marketing campaigns and consumer engagement, which in turn, are leading to a substantial boost in sales. Also, the technology stands to reduce returns and increase customer satisfaction.
Here are a few examples of fashion brands successfully using augmented reality today:
Luxury brand Gucci’s foray into augmented reality is known as the ‘try on’ app, and it allows you to virtually slip on any sneaker from the ACE line without stepping into a shop. Using their smartphone camera, potential customers simply point it downwards to superimpose a realistic-looking digital overlay of different sneaker styles on their feet.
Start-up company Wannaby has an app dubbed “Wanna Kicks” that also uses AR to let you try on various pairs of sneakers. However, their AR offers additional tracking features that allow you to move around freely in the sneakers, which is what you would totally do in a brick-and-mortar store. The company also announced plans to extend their augmented reality technology past shoes and glasses to clothing.
3. Suzanne Harward
Suzanne Harward has seized the opportunities AR brings, and their Virtual View takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect couture wedding dress or gown. The AR fashion technology allows customers to see life size fashion models in their home, and they can take photos and videos of different Suzanne Harward styles to show friends and family later.
Burberry says that, “the inspiration phase of the decision to purchase is becoming increasingly important for luxury consumers,” and that “augmented reality can create a more exciting experience and enhance personalized luxury commerce” That being said, they recently launched an AR shopping tool. Through the tool, customers can search for Burberry items utilizing Google Search on their smartphone and see an AR version of the product at scale against real-life objects. The luxury brand says that simulating the in-store experience helps people gain a better understanding of the item before buying it.
Another use case for augmented reality is in forming a deeper relationship with customers through AR commerce. For instance, in addition to a 3D rendering that digitally represents Dior’s purse, AR can provide content that creates an immersive experience whether you are at Dior’s online store or at their physical store location. One way it does this is by working with your phone’s camera to dish about essential tidbits such as how to store the product, how to use it…etc.
Making Customers Happy and Confident
Fashion retail is a dynamic industry, and keeping current with the latest technology is critical to staying viable and moving forward. At N41, we offer an innovative, All-IN-ONE System that includes ERP software, Tradeshow, Mobile App, E-commerce website, Showroom, PLM Integration, EDI, and more. To find out about our powerful solutions, please call us at (213) 738‐1010 or sign up for a demo using our online form