Will augmented reality tech effectively bring the try-on experience online?

Discussion
Sources: Burberry, 1-800-Flowers.com
Mar 09, 2020
Tom Ryan

Burberry, 1-800-Flowers.com and ASOS recently became the latest retailers to infuse augmented reality (AR) into their apps to help online customers make more informed purchase decisions.

Burberry partnered with Google Search technology to enable consumers to use their smartphones to view a 3D version of a product at scale against other real life objects. The retailer wrote in a statement, “The inspiration phase of the decision to purchase is becoming increasingly important for luxury consumers.”

Timed to Valentine’s Day, 1-800-Flowers.com introduced a new AR feature on its app that lets web shoppers preview Valentine’s Day arrangements at various angles in 3D and also virtually see how the arrangements would look in their own spaces.

In January, ASOS became the first European retailer to trial See My Fit, an AR tool that offers online customers a simulated view of a product in different sizes and on different body types.

Another newer AR user is Instagram, which last October began beta testing an AR shopping feature with Warby Parker, MAC Cosmetics, Ray-Ban and NARS Cosmetics. In a recent WWD article, Spark AR Studio, the technology provider, said one in four Instagram users who see the “Try On” tool use it.

Several retailers offer ways to visualize how scale-sized furnishings would look in their homes through their smartphone’s camera. Virtually trying on make-up, footwear and jewelry are also made possible using AR via apps.

Yet Instagram admitted that using AR to virtually try products is “not wildly popular” and is uncertain how much traction the technology is gaining with consumers across categories.

One retail fan of the technology is Warby Parker, whose “Virtual Try-On” tool first uses Apple’s Face ID to measure 30,000 points on someone’s face to recommend appropriate frames. The app then uses AR to provide a 3D preview of the frames as they’ll look when worn. 

Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby Parker, told Fox Business last December that the combined technologies solves three technical hurdles — sizing, true-to-scale and fit — and importantly supports a natural look. “There’s this phenomenon where the more realistic something looks, the less realistic you perceive it to be so it has to work really good,” he said.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How confident are you that AR combined with smartphone camera technology will help bring the in-store, try-on experience to online shopping? Do you see it working for certain categories and not for others?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"There will be some big winners in AR. Home furnishings will benefit. For eyeglasses, AR is great. For clothing, not so much. Fit can only be determined in 3-D."
"This will simply be a matter of time for the technologies to catch up to the demands of the shopper."
"Just to continue my skepticism about AR: while there are some tremendous places AR will help companies, the retail store (or online retail) is not one of them."

Join the Discussion!

15 Comments on "Will augmented reality tech effectively bring the try-on experience online?"


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Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

The technology works. It’s not new. More and more brands are starting to use AR to enhance the online experience. Makeup, glasses, clothes, etc. allow the consumer to virtually try on the merch. Other items allow a 360 view. If the corona virus continues to be a problem, virtual try-ons will will become more popular. Maybe that will speed up the “tipping point” where AR and the virtual try-on become more the norm than the next cool thing.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

AR definitely enhances and enriches the “inspiration phase” of shopping, and for certain categories (eyewear being one, for sure) the technology can almost completely replace the “try-on” phase. However, I am not convinced that AR will replace the act of trying on apparel any time soon. Even with somewhat recent advancements in the natural draping and fabric movement, whether something “fits” is still a very subjective decision made as much by emotion as dimension. AR will never be able to allow you to touch and feel something while you try it on. It’s that combination of sensory impacts that drive the emotional response, which, in my opinion, will always be a limiting factor for AR.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust
Suresh Chaganti
Co-Founder and Executive Partner, VectorScient
6 months 9 days ago

AR definitely is the way to go and it will find traction. For furniture and home decor it is most relevant and functionally useful. Wayfair has been doing this for a while, and I used it a lot. Personal categories like eyewear, beauty and cosmetics and apparel have a lot of potential, but apps need to mature along with consumers getting comfortable.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

Unexpected events have a way of triggering behavior changes and accelerating such adoptions. The emerging cocooning due to the coronavirus, even if it is temporary, is such a catalyst. It is primed to accelerate adoption of AR while building on the ubiquity of smartphones and camera technology. As consumers discover the ease of use and realism of this technology, they will further shift the retail equation to one of a hybrid experience that meets their specific situation and appetite for risk.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

There will be some big winners in AR. Home furnishings will benefit. For eyeglasses, AR is great. For clothing, not so much. Fit can only be determined in 3-D. Nevertheless, probably the biggest catalyst to AR is the threat of pandemic. Technology reduces tactile contact, so this may become the preferred method of shopping.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

It’s one thing to put glasses on a face shot – it’s another for me to try on a shirt or pair of pants. I’m guessing makeup could be done well also. So it’s a limited application.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

I agree that it is difficult to “try on” a pair of pants virtually Stephen. But at least one company has got the virtual sizing of that shirt you like on the model on the website down. Check out MTailor.com. With a few snapped poses from your phone you can get a custom fitted version of that shirt or those pants tailored just for you. I can attest from the custom shirts that it works great.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Mobile AR adoption will soar by boosting convenience and consumer confidence.

Retailers and brands deepen online engagement by allowing consumers to try before they buy – around the clock and around the world. Consumers save time by skipping the fitting room or showroom. They also access rich, personalized insights to accurately visualize the end result, so they can make purchase decisions with more confidence and less risk.

While cosmetics, apparel and accessories, and home furnishings are an ideal fit for AR, grocery is one category where the technology isn’t a priority yet.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Whatever the limitations are, they will vanish over time. Think of the technology in a self-driving car. Now think about measuring a body, determining the fit, and placing the chosen product on the picture. I can’t help thinking this will be a piece-of-cake.

And if this works, think about how many alternatives one can try on in a very, very short period of time! Just like scrolling through photos. WOW!

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Just to continue my skepticism about AR: while there are some tremendous places AR will help companies, the retail store (or online retail) is not one of them.

Even my students know that there’s a massive difference between trying on a sweater and seeing it photoshopped onto your body in VR. It is not possible to effectively model fit, finish, and tailoring against the real human body (much less true color).

I do not see it working for categories. On the other hand VR has an excellent behind-the-scenes opportunity to show what a store might feel like without building it. And that’s been the important application of VR since it was pioneered in the 1950s in simulators for jets and rockets.

Kathleen Fischer
BrainTrust

AR definitely shines in the home furnishings and accessories areas and I love the Warby Parker functionality, but it is not likely to be as successful in the apparel arena – at least not yet, however, technology will likely continue to improve and it will likely be a possibility in the future.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

This will simply be a matter of time for the technologies to catch up to the demands of the shopper. Apparel retailers are quickly getting more savvy with online fitting capabilities, and the technologies will improve significantly in the next 12-18 months, for certain.

Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

AR works today and there are a number of successful implementations. It’s pretty straightforward to use it to try on glasses, makeup or see if that couch is going to fit in your living room. Much of that can replace or augment in-store and is a really valuable addition.

Other categories aren’t as appropriate. For most of apparel, the camera/fit technology isn’t quite there yet. In the grocery world, there isn’t a viable AR use-case.

No doubt as technology continues to improve there will be more and more impact in all sectors.

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust

AR works in the consideration and inspiration phases of decision-making. It has proved itself in home furnishings and color cosmetics (with highly customized applications).

If Warby Parker’s application takes those 30,000 facial measurements and makes suggestions as to the “best” frames for your particular face (the way a professional eyewear sales person would) then it’s a win and would underscore the brand’s authority. (Their demo video starts with “select a frame” which seems to assume one knows which frame.)

I remain skeptical about apparel try on via AR. Shoes maybe, but for low consideration items like t-shirts, I’m not sure customers need that sort of reinforcement. For higher consideration items like dresses or suits, fit, feel, weight, construction are difficult to convey off-body.

Which sets up an interesting challenge for all those engineers dreaming of the next big thing.

Fan Immersive
Guest

The tech to measure yourself accurately is out there. But to see the clothes on you or a representation of you has been the missing piece IMO. I agree nothing will ever replace seeing and trying it on in person. But we are in a new era now as people here have said, and I think that will change buying habits. Companies will need to innovate with immersive mobile online experiences to survive IMO (online clothing sales are down 50 percent since March).

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"There will be some big winners in AR. Home furnishings will benefit. For eyeglasses, AR is great. For clothing, not so much. Fit can only be determined in 3-D."
"This will simply be a matter of time for the technologies to catch up to the demands of the shopper."
"Just to continue my skepticism about AR: while there are some tremendous places AR will help companies, the retail store (or online retail) is not one of them."

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