Will AR try-on sneaker tech put Amazon a step ahead of its rivals?

Discussion
Source: Amazon promotional video
Jun 10, 2022

Amazon Fashion yesterday introduced its Virtual Try-On for Shoes, which uses augmented reality technology to help customers visualize how they will look in footwear from a variety of angles.

The technology is integrated into the Amazon shopping app for iPhones and includes thousands of sneaker styles from Adidas, Asics, New Balance, Puma, Reebok, Saucony and others. It does not include Nike, which in 2019 made the decision to remove its products from the Amazon platform to concentrate on selling directly to consumers and through key wholesale partners.

Amazon said that shoppers interested in a particular sneaker can tap the try-on button on product detail pages and point their mobile phone’s camera at their feet to see how the shoes will look. Shoppers can view the shoes from different angles by moving their feet.

“Amazon Fashion’s goal is to create innovative experiences that make shopping for fashion online easier and more delightful for customers,” Muge Erdirik Dogan, president of Amazon Fashion, said in a statement. “We’re excited to introduce Virtual Try-On for Shoes, so customers can try on thousands of styles from brands they know and love at their convenience, wherever they are. We look forward to listening and learning from customer feedback as we continue to enhance the experience and expand to more brands and styles.”


Try-on technology is no longer a novelty with retailers from Amazon to Zara using it to get consumers to purchase apparel, beauty products, eyeglasses and more. The goal of the technology is simple — help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions and reduce profit destroying returns in the process. Thirty-four percent of Americans think that augmented reality tech will make online shopping more fun, according to YouGov research

Amazon said that its technology will benefit brand partners selling shoes on its platform by making the process easier and more like shopping in a real world environment.

“Innovation and elevating consumer experiences are at the core of New Balance. We’re excited to showcase our footwear selection in Amazon Fashion’s Virtual Try-On for Shoes as we continue to look for immersive ways to engage our shared customer base,” said Melissa Worth, senior vice president of North America at New Balance.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do consumers trust augmented reality try-on technology in making purchasing decisions? How will the use of AR tech affect sneaker sales on Amazon.com?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Consumers are getting more comfortable with AR technology because many of them used it during COVID-19 for a variety of activities."
"Maybe I just need more information or to try it out but, for now, I’m still going to order two pairs and keep the one that fits — you know, e-commerce buying at its finest."
"As shared, this is cool but not new technology only newsworthy because it is AMZ."

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16 Comments on "Will AR try-on sneaker tech put Amazon a step ahead of its rivals?"


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Mohamed Amer, PhD
BrainTrust

Consumers are already comfortable using augmented reality to view appliances and furniture in their kitchens and living rooms. Extending that technology capability to try-on footwear can only enhance the consumer’s purchase decisions. The try-on technology will not solve the fit problem but does address fashion and style. This should be a winner for Amazon and brands.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I fear my age may be showing with this comment, but I just don’t see that the AR view of the shoes on my feet really adds a lot of value to my purchase decision process. Though I guess if people think the tech makes online shopping more fun, then it may be of greater value than I think. We know that happy shoppers shop (and spend) more, so maybe making shopping more fun is enough reason to give it a shot.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Seeing is believing. Virtual try-ons boost online shoppers’ trust and reduce costly returns. AR-driven try-ons already boost online sales in beauty and apparel. Extending this tech to footwear is a smart next step. AR try-ons will boost Amazon sneaker sales with convenient, personalized and highly-visual online experiences.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

I’m aging with Dave Bruno. Hard to imagine you can’t tell what a sneaker is going to look like on your feet without having to resort to AR. I also would expect that the bulk of sneaker returns are not due to “I don’t like the look” – I would guess either “They don’t fit” or “I found them cheaper”.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Glad I am not alone – and I agree 100 percent with your sentiments regarding returns, Stephen!

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Stephen, I think you have nailed the issue here. The issue is fit not look. I might think I look good in purple hightop sandals. Seeing a picture of them on my feet is probably not going to change my mind. Now, how would you feel if Amazon precisely digitally “mapped” your foot and used that virtual template as a tool for selecting shoes? So, if you had say flat feet, the algorithm would alert you to styles with higher arches, etc. That technology certainly exists now and presumably would be a true value addition that would cut down on returns.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I believe your idea of mapping the foot is ultimately where the technology will go. But in the meantime, don’t buy the purple high-top sandals, even if you think they look good on AR.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

Exactly my issue with this tech! If it helped the shopper figure out fit, that would actually solve a problem when buying shoes online. I think we all can see what the shoe would look like just from 360 online views of said shoe.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

The level of trust and satisfaction consumers have for virtual try on is entirely dependent on product type. Tech is great at showing you the full color range for a shoe or other clothing item, but it cannot show you how it will feel when worn. While this is a fun way for shoppers to get an initial sense of how something looks, it ultimately doesn’t reduce actual return rates if the fit is wrong. On the flip side, AR is great for furniture shoppers to clearly see how an item will look in their home and it does have a positive impact on sales.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Augmented reality tech will definitely help make online shopping easier. However sneakers that are worn for anything other than a fashion statement have fitting requirements that cannot be met via a virtual try-on. But for fashion sneakers, AR will absolutely make shopping more fun.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Seems like a stretch with shoes. Maybe I just need more information or to try it out but, for now, I’m still going to order two pairs and keep the one that fits — you know, e-commerce buying at its finest.

Brad Halverson
Guest

Same process for me on some shoes, and nearly all my shirts, sweaters. Size information is rarely enough to use as the cuts and styles are always the ultimate variables.

David Spear
BrainTrust

Consumers are getting more comfortable with AR technology because many of them used it during COVID-19 for a variety of activities, such as wall paint, furniture looks, and remodel options. There’s no doubt AR can be applied for sneaker try-on, but I’m with DeAnn Campbell on the “fit” issue. It doesn’t and won’t solve for that, which typically ranks right at the top when it comes to shoes. All that said, you gotta give Amazon and its eco-system partners credit for deploying new technology and continuing to push the envelope with innovation and experience.

Brad Halverson
Guest

The great feature about AR is it solves the question of how shoes look, and if you like the style. Kudos to Amazon. They’ll certainly have a percentage of customers who will buy this way and be satisfied.

The second half of the equation for another percentage of customers will be — does it ultimately fit well, feel right, give support. For this, the option is ether the back and forth of online returns, or going into a retail location.

David Slavick
BrainTrust

As shared, this is cool but not new technology only newsworthy because it is AMZ. I was at Salesforce Connections this week and Crocs showed off its try-on capability which was pretty slick. Imagine if this existed before Zappos? It sure would have cut down on order 10, keep 2 and return 8. Which is exactly the point here — cut down on returns/exchanges and naturally flow purchases to AMZ vs. physical store options.

Holden Bale
Guest

Virtual try-on of shoes has limited ROI, based on what we’ve seen from retailers who’ve tried it. AR for home and beauty are “killer features,” though, for sure.

If Amazon could solve virtual shoe SIZING and fit recommendations across brands, then they’d have the holy grail.

Remember Body Labs? It was apparel, not shoes — Amazon acquired them in 2017; their tech would match a database of detailed body type data (like in-seam) using deep learning by looking at a regular 2D photo you could submit.

But even having the tech to know your shoe size still assumes an incredible depth of product data to match to (for each given style, as lasts can vary), and a relatively simple UX experience (like what Warby Parker does with virtual try-on using Apple’s TrueDepth).

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Consumers are getting more comfortable with AR technology because many of them used it during COVID-19 for a variety of activities."
"Maybe I just need more information or to try it out but, for now, I’m still going to order two pairs and keep the one that fits — you know, e-commerce buying at its finest."
"As shared, this is cool but not new technology only newsworthy because it is AMZ."

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