Immersive technologies like augmented reality can improve the shopping experience for customers, increase sales, and reduce the staggeringly high return rates for clothing. How can fashion firms on the cutting edge of trends stay ahead of the curve as AR use explodes in the near future? Here is How Augmented Reality Perfectly Fits Fashion.
Augmented reality, an immersive technology that blends the physical and digital worlds by superimposing computer-generated images over the real world, is an unexpected yet perfect fit for fashion retail. Using augmented reality, fashion retailers can bridge the gap between the physical and online retail experience, transform any room into a fitting room, and provide a convenient solution to customers’ sizing struggles.
Augmented reality Vs. Virtual Reality in Fashion
Both AR and VR fall under the same umbrella of ‘mixed reality’ technologies, but they are distinctly different regarding the technology involved and the experience provided. While AR adds digital elements to the physical world, VR transports the user into the digital world.
Unlike AR, virtual reality requires the user to wear a headset device, which they can use to access and explore 3D virtual worlds. Virtual reality in fashion refers to simulated products and experiences within these environments. This could be virtual reality clothing that the user can dress their virtual self up in or industry events and shows that take place entirely in the digital world.
While similar in that both allow users to view and explore items and environments that only exist in the digital realm, AR’s experiences are vastly different – and accessible with nothing more than a smartphone device.
AR in fashion: Developing the best-augmented reality clothing experience
All types of brands are experimenting with augmented reality in the retail space. Walmart is utilizing AR to expedite the movement of goods from the backroom to the store floors, and Pull & Bear has implemented an augmented mobile game to attract new clients. Virtual apparel, however, shows the most potential in the fashion industry; according to Rebecca Minkoff, 3D integration increases clients’ likelihood of finishing a transaction by 44%.
Deploying AR in fashion retail offers a fun, novel, and insightful way for customers to explore a brand’s product range by transforming simple product catalogs into engaging 3D experiences. Customers hold their smartphones to a 2D image, and a realistic, 3D representation appears.
Pushing the technology further, retailers can implement AR try-on solutions, which enable consumers to ‘wear’ these virtual garments. Using a camera-equipped device, AR clothing try-on technology can map a realistic, 3D representation of a product over the customer’s body.
Virtual fashion and try-on can engage online shoppers, provide them with a better look at a product than 2D images can offer, and, in turn, encourage them to go ahead with making the purchase.
However, clothes try-on technology can also transform the in-store experience. Using magic mirror technology, customers can try on products in various colors and style options without physically undressing, providing busy shoppers with a streamlined in-store experience.
Augmented reality shopping experiences: A must for fashion retailers
Implementing AR for shopping will enable consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions with less hassle. In turn, retailers will benefit from greater loyalty, longer engagement, and more substantial conversion rates.
Augmented reality in clothing is offered as part of ShopExp’s technology, such as Smart Mirrors, Virtual TryOn, and 3D.
The longer visitors spend on an e-commerce store, the more likely they will make a purchase. AR provides a fun and novel way for customers to browse items, helping to keep them hooked for longer. In fact, according to Threekit, AR can keep customers engaged for 2.7x longer, increasing conversions, encouraging additional purchases, and converting new clients into repeat customers.
According to Littledata, the average conversion rate for online fashion retailers is only 1.8%, compared to an estimated 20–40% for physical stores. Through their smartphones, shoppers may view and interact with realistic, virtual product representations, which can assist in virtualizing the in-store experience. The technology may eventually close the gap between online and in-store conversion rates since 62% of customers who have used virtual fitting rooms for clothing say that it motivated them to purchase.
According to McKinsey, an estimated 70% of fashion returns are due to poor fit or style. Online shopping amplifies this issue, with e-commerce return rates approximately three times higher than in-store. For those wondering how to reduce returns in e-commerce, AR clothing try-on solutions can be an option: they present a way for online shoppers to try before they buy, thus eliminating the problem of a poor fit and leading to fewer returns. Moreover, AR try-on is an excellent example of sustainable fashion technology as it helps retailers reduce the amount of waste they produce, the number of samples they use, and the number of returns.
Retailers can offer a simple and reliable customer journey by using AR. Studies show that addressing customer pain points with AR might significantly affect future sales, with 70% of consumers anticipating higher brand loyalty from companies that provide AR-enhanced shopping experiences.
AR virtual try-on & more: The AR fashion solutions assisting innovative retailers
According to PWC, immersive technologies are tipped to boost global GDP by $1.5trn by 2030. With various innovative tools emerging, AR in fashion is already helping trend-setting brands to generate additional value.
Augmented reality content
A novel way for brands to communicate and advertise to their customer base. By scanning physical objects — such as posters or garments — using a smartphone device, customers can reveal ‘hidden’ content that is invisible in the real world.
Balmain, for example, previously used AR content to encourage the use of its app. Users could access AR content by scanning posters that were put up around Paris, such as an immersive tour of the brand’s Saint Honoré flagship store.
Allow customers to shop around in a digital environment. By moving their smartphone around the room, users can tour the space and interact with items as if they were visiting a physical store.
U.S. retailer Kohl’s recently launched the Kohl’s Augmented Reality Virtual Closet. Accessible through Snapchat, the feature allows customers to browse a selection of virtual try-on clothes: jeans, t-shirts, jackets, and mix-and-match items to create trendy combinations.
U.S. retail chain Kohl’s has launched the Kohl’s AR Virtual Closet with Snapchat that features Levi’s apparel. Source: WWD
Found on shop floors and inside fitting rooms, use AR to help customers visualize different garments and options without getting undressed. Simply standing in front of the mirror, customers can instantly swipe between other options and see them on their bodies.
More businesses, like MAC, are experimenting with augmented reality in the beauty industry. The brand has started introducing magic mirrors in its stores, which enable consumers to experiment with various colors of lipstick, eyeshadow, and blush, in collaboration with face tracking company ModiFace.
Virtual try-on technology
Allows buyers to use a camera-equipped device to try on a product. To show customers how a product might seem on their body, augmented reality (AR) technology overlays a virtual representation of the product over a real-world image.
Gucci, Reebok, and Allbirds are a few sneaker companies that have added shoe try-on capabilities to their online shops. Customers can now use a smartphone to view exactly how a shoe will appear on their foot.
Gucci teamed with Snapchat to launch shoppable footwear AR ‘Try-On.’
Augmented reality in clothing is offered as part of ShopExp technology. An innovative solution detects specific body parts (head, neck, shoulders, forearm, and ankle) in minutes. It captures details of the user’s appearance, such as haircut and skin tone, to generate a photorealistic, digital version of the customer.
To use ShoExp technology, online shoppers choose an item of clothing and click on a widget on a product page to be voice-guided through a quick and easy scanning process using a smartphone camera.
ShopExp can answer two questions shoppers face when purchasing online: Will this fit me, and will this look good on me?
Using ShopExp technology, forward-thinking fashion brands have drastically improved the customer experience and are reaping the rewards.
Augmented reality in clothing: What does the future hold?
An augmented reality fashion app such as ShopExp Technology is helping fashion retailers match potential customers with accurately fitting products – and producing fantastic results, too – but there is still plenty of innovation.
For instance, fashion retailer Farfetch has begun to trial the practice of digitally dressing influencers to promote its new pre-order offerings. Rather than sending physical goods to the influencers they work with, Farfetch is dressing them with realistic, 3D renders. This clever use of augmented reality in clothing can save retailers money and resources on sending out samples and reduce the environmental cost of shipping.
Likewise, brands are exploring similar uses for consumers. The innovative fashion retailer produces entirely virtual garments, which consumers can purchase to show off on their social media feeds. Customers share a snap, and the digital garment is superimposed over their body using fashion AR tools, with realistic photos ready to share within days.
Get ready for the future of augmented reality fashion
According to GetApp, 90% of respondents believe augmented reality will be most useful when purchasing apparel online. Therefore it stands to reason that the fashion retail industry will be among those most substantially influenced by technology.
Only 1% of merchants now use mixed reality technology to improve the shopping experience, so there is an opportunity for innovative brands to take the lead. Implementing AR in fashion retail would not only give modern customers the shopping experience they want, but it might also significantly impact conversion rates, returns, and customer loyalty.
As e-commerce use grows amongst fashion consumers, so does their appetite for technology-driven experiences. Soon enough, implementing AR in retail won’t be a matter of getting ahead of competitors but surviving in a fast-moving fashion market.
Using AR, customers can visualize different options to create products tailored to their unique style, shape, and tastes.
With 75% of U.S. consumers viewing personalization as critical to a brand’s longevity, according to IBM Watson, AR can help brands to win over modern consumers.
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