AR in Retail: How Top Brands are Using Augmented Reality to Personalize Shopping Experience

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May 8, 2021

The ‘buyer’s remorse’ used to every shopper’s biggest fear, until augmented reality cured it with present-day wonders like ‘magic mirrors’ and ‘virtual fashion boutiques’.

With augmented reality, shopping – online or in-store – is not only engaging but less hectic and time-consuming. One can only make so many trips to the try-room before one selects the perfect dress or jeans. AR replaces the ‘tiresome’ in ‘experience’ with ‘magical and engaging’. Customers go home happy and remorseless. And customers, they are beginning to expect AR experiences. In fact, a recent survey has revealed that about 71% of consumers said they would shop more often if retailers offered augmented reality experiences. (source: business2community)

It’s a key reason why this not-so-novel-anymore technology is fast becoming table stakes for fashion and beauty brands all over the world. Fashion and beauty brands, in fact, were among the first in retail to acknowledge the potential of AR in retail and dabble with the ‘then’ novel tech. As a result, today, we have more brands expeditiously building up investments to adopt the technology and allow customers a personalized experience.

So, How are Top Fashion & Beauty Brands Using AR

To create magical experiences, augmented reality combines the users’ real-time video with virtual overlays. And this lines up well with the beauty industry’s desire to have a customer experience that allows customers to try as many items as they want before making a final decision.

For instance, a virtual makeup app powered by augmented reality allows customers to see how a product would look on them using just the screens – smart or magic mirror – in front of them. Customers can try on and purchase any number of eyeglasses, lipstick, eye shadow, nail polish, jewelry, and even clothing articles without leaving the try-on screen.

Many beauty brands around the world are currently providing many different kinds of AR-powered buyer experiences: let’s take a look at how some of the most well-known brands are using AR to have a more personalized shopping experience.

1. Sephora’s Virtual Try-on Experience

Sephora is adored and loved for its try-on experience. Buyers can try combos of various items to select the perfect product. And if you’re looking to create an unconventional look with an entirely different shade, you can take help from Sephora’s Virtual Artist. The bot can assist you with anything; from helping you find a perfect lipstick shade that matches the color of your dress or your general color type to suggesting a random product from the Sephora lipstick line.

The “Try it on” option is available in all situations, and this is where the magic starts. The chatbot prompts you to upload a front-facing photo, and you can see how you look with the lipstick added in a flash. You can spend hours with makeup, experimenting with different colors, and creating fresh, unexpected looks.

Of course, there is a “Buy now” option for all things, so if you discover a lipstick that makes you feel confident about it, Sephora will help make it happen. However, there is one catch to it. Since the payment process has not yet been incorporated in Sephora’s chatbot, the order has to be placed on the company’s website.

There is also an attractive additional feature – for all looks created with Sephora lipsticks, the bot offers the “Download image” option.

2. L’Oreal’s Style my Hair

L’Oreal is one of the most prominent instances of AR in retail. Early in 2018, L’Oreal acquired ModiFace, an AR company. Following the acquisition, ModiFace collaborated with Facebook to create AR advertisements for L’Oreal’s products, beginning with NYX. This allowed customers to try on lipstick or eyeshadow shades virtually by clicking on a Facebook ad in their newsfeed.

L’Oreal has mastered the use of AR technology and ModiFace’s work with Facebook to develop AR experiences for many of its brands including Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, and Urban Decay is pretty self-evident.

L’Oréal’s Style My Hair lets the customers change their hair color digitally—on live video. It’s the magic mirror effect. The technology colors hair strand by strand to create a fully dimensional, realistic look. Don’t want to be a blonde? Is red or auburn more your look? Just swipe on the app and change your color again. This technology is beneficial when a colorist consults with a client regarding what they want and lets the client see quite effectively how the color will look on them prior to committing to the real thing.

According to Lubomira Rochet, L’Oreal’s Chief Digital Officer, an average customer will typically spend more of their time in an app that has AR makeup or skincare functionalities than an app that doesn’t. What’s more, customers that try out the AR functionality purchase a product 10% more often than those that do not try this functionality.

Facebook and L’Oréal’s vision is that augmented reality will become extremely relevant for product and brand discovery and purchase.

3. Uniqlo’s Magic Mirror

Uniqlo launched the Magic Mirror concept to align with the opening of its fifth retail location in the United States. In October 2012, the casual clothing brand allowed customers in San Francisco to see themselves in a full-color collection of its most common jacket designs for the fall season without having to change their clothes.

The Uniqlo Magic Mirror works by combining Kinect’s color-changing engine with a half-mirror touch screen. The concept is basic but extremely useful and magical. While Uniqlo’s magic mirror doesn’t yet talk or reveal ‘the fairest of them all’, it changes the color of the article you’re wearing to help decide on the color. Once common, this type of technology could really help elevate the in-store try-before-you-buy experience, as well as make the shopping experience more engaging.

The AR experience also allowed customers to share their looks directly from the shop. Check it out here:

4. Lacoste AR App

The French sportswear brand, Lacoste, makes it easier to try on shoes with its augmented reality app. It allows customers to try out a variety of trainers in many different colors without having to take their shoes off.

The app uses 3D product scanning and augmented reality to make the magic happen. The app, created by Engine Creative, uses in-store point-of-sale technology to enable customers to see how new trainers will look on their feet without putting them on.

Customers only have to place their feet on the image on the store floor and then scan it with their smartphone to use the app. The app would then show a picture of the footwear on the shopper’s foot, as well as information about the shoe and other items in the collection. Isn’t it cool?

Lacoste hopes that the app will make it easier for customers to try on the new collection without having to wait for a salesperson or remove their shoes.

5. Nike Fit

Over 60 percent of people walk around wearing the wrong shoe size, and Nike solves this issue with its augmented reality app ‘Nike Fit’. It measures your feet to find you the perfect shoe size.

Nike’s augmented reality app experience is pretty basic: when you open the Nike app and go to a product tab, you’ll notice a feature that lets you measure your feet next to a menu where you normally pick your shoe size.

When you tap that, a camera appears and asks you to stand in front of a wall and aim your mobile device at your feet, resulting in a view that leverages two AR circles to align your phone. After the feature detects your feet and surrounding environment, it begins scanning your feet to find you a perfect Nike shoe size. The entire process hardly takes a minute and it is super easy to use. Check it out here:

Is Your Brand Looking to Create a Magical AR Experience to Wow Customers?

These are only a handful of selected stories that show how augmented reality is transforming retail and shopping. The world of retail is full of many more awesome instances. So many brands are adopting this magical technology at a breakneck speed to stand out from the competition, leveraging AR-enabled product experiences to upsell and wow their customers. And with improved connectivity and 5G and updates from key AR players like Google and Apple, augmented reality experiences are guaranteed to evolve.

However, while the demand for Augmented Reality (AR) mobile app development climbs higher on the growth trajectory, creating magically immersive AR experiences typically requires the tools and capabilities that most companies don’t yet have in their arsenal. Creating AR experiences is not without its challenges but CitrusBits is equipped with a top-rated AR/VR division that partners with businesses to provide the end-to-end creation of lifelike and immersive AR applications. Check us out here!

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