Oracle and Bronto general manager Shannon Ingrey discusses the potential future of virtual and augmented reality within the fashion industry and examines companies that have already made strides with the technology.
Last year we watched the wildly successful Pokémon Go drive floods of people onto the streets in a nationwide hunt for these virtual creatures on their smart phones.
This was heralded as the tipping point for augmented reality (AR). As we move into the experience age, exponential technologies like this and virtual reality (VR) are changing how we live and shop.
These technologies are no longer futuristic, but are being used to define, develop and rapidly deploy new experiences to improve the customer journey.
We are living in an age where customers are taking control and crave authenticity, personalisation and convenience. Both VR and AR look to play a part in how retailers can use mixed reality technology to change how we shop and interact with a brand.
Here are some examples of digitally adventurous retailers using these technologies successfully.
eBay and Myer:
Last year iconic Aussie retailer Myer and eBay teamed up to create a ‘virtual reality department store’, which they heralded as ‘the fourth channel of retail’.
The store adapts to customer’s shopping habits, personalising what products they are shown. Users can use a VR headset to explore the virtual store at home, and can browse and make purchases all within the virtual world for a truly immersive experience.
The top 100 products are displayed as 3D models, enabling users to get a better sense of the size of the products they are looking at buying, speeding up the purchasing process and providing a deeper level of interaction to online shopping.
The high street brand has launched a new virtual dressing room app in collaboration with Google that used AR to let shoppers try on clothes without having to step into a store.
After inputting your measurements and height, the app shows how each size garment looks on different body sizes.
This technology gives customers incredible autonomy around the shopping experience and is a result of the brand exploring new ways to make the purchasing experience effortless and add value to the customer.
This iconic shoe brand delivered its first augmented reality app last year, which enables users to see exactly how a pair of shoes would look on their feet.
The app maps a virtual shoe onto a picture of the user’s foot through the camera, creating a virtual dressing room on your phone.
Converse has seen higher conversion rates and reduced return rates since users have already “tried the shoes on” before ordering.
The global sports brand that lives on innovation has used Microsoft Kinect to build a body scanner that sits in their physical stores. Customers are scanned head-to-toe by Adidas staff, which allows them to try on clothes virtually.
The best part is that once you’re scanned, you can try on clothes virtually when you’re shopping online (at home) or when you’re physically at the store.
Like others, Adidas is also building smart technology into their dressing rooms for a more interactive product experience.
The opportunities that VR and AR may bring are still untapped and this is just the beginning, as investment in this sector is hot. The technology compliments the customer journey and in the cases above, offers online shoppers a taste of the in-store experience.
There’s clearly been a shift in retailers thinking, going beyond the sale and experimenting with consumer centric marketing strategies which are likely to result in a more rewarding shopping experience with the ability to virtually try before they buy.
The successful incorporation of AR and VR into retail has the potential to change traditional marketing strategies and retailers should consider how taking the lead in this technology could extend the brand’s connection to the consumer for a differentiated, elevated experience.