Virtual “try-before-you-buy” experiences have been gradually surfacing themselves in the holiday seasons as “cool” and “innovative”. With the pandemic, this has shifted to “essential”. Once a nice-to-have feature, Augmented Reality (AR) is now an essential technology for online retailers. The modern consumer is evolving in this changing landscape — are you evolving with them?
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated industries like retail well into the future. According to IBM’s 2020 U.S. Retail Index report, the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital shopping by roughly five years. The acceleration means retailers need a plan to keep up with the shift to digital shopping experiences and how they will compete in an increasingly competitive digital landscape.
Throughout the pandemic, technologies like virtual try-on have offered solutions for retailers previously unable to demo their products online and who had to close their doors temporarily due to the pandemic lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. Being able to see how a pair of sunglasses might look and fit, these AR- and AI-enabled experiences have brought a part of the comfort of a traditional in-store retail experience online.
How will you navigate the upcoming shopping season, where it is expected that in 2021 there will be 2.14 billion unique online shoppers around the world shopping online? One option — embrace virtual try-on to reduce returns and give customers the confidence to shop online.
Consumer shopping shifts towards digital touchpoints
If you’re reading this article, it is probably no surprise to hear that the relationship people have with shopping is becoming increasingly digital. Since the unveiling of mobile technology and social media platforms, shopping has fundamentally changed.
What was once a more predictable trip to the store for which people made time, in today’s always-on society shoppers can shop anytime and anywhere they want. These unpredictable shopping instances are known as “micro-moments” often even occur while doing other tasks.
As shopping continues to shift toward digital touchpoints, the online experience will be more important than ever.
Reimagining the virtual shopping experience
We must throw out what we thought we knew about the traditional shopper and reimagine shopping for the modern consumer. Consumers today want frictionless and effortless omnipresent shopping experiences wherever, whenever, and however, they demand.
It is not as simple as listing your products for sale online. Consumers value experience more than brand loyalty and price. According to PwC, 86% of shoppers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience — it is a baseline expectation.
Also, 70% of people are expected to be more loyal to brands incorporating Virtual Try-on (VTO) into their shopping experiences.
Technologies like Ditto have enabled retailers to bring the fitting room to the consumer. Shopping for eyewear online has always been notoriously challenging, resulting in high returns and low conversion rates. With the acceleration of online shopping in the pandemic, helping customers confidently shop for both fit and style is so critical.
Eyewear is hard to buy in stores, let alone online. To improve this, Ditto gives customers the chance to try on glasses virtually showing how the glasses will look and fit, inspiring the confidence to buy. Additionally, with frame recommendations, we can help customers quickly narrow down to the pair of frames that fit them and match their style preferences, simplifying the frame discovery experience.
Benefits of AR-enabled experiences
- Augmented reality technology takes the shopping experience to the next level and enhances your brand
- The AR technology opens an array of opportunities for AR marketing campaigns
- AR technology can play a significant role in increasing customers engagement and can drive conversions
- Augmented reality can personalize the shopping experience and give customers the confidence to shop online
The future of retailing
Augmented Reality (AR) applications have been on the rise with virtual “try-before-you-buy” experiences. Once a nice-to-have feature, Augmented Reality (AR) is now an essential technology for retailers.
While virtual try-on solutions are still a newer offering, there are still a lot of great choices on the market for solutions. Across industries and products, many name-brand retailers have embraced the shift to AR-enabled shopping experiences.
- Zenni — Affordable prescription eyewear brand
- Specsavers — Eyesight testing and optical retailer
- Quay — Trendy sunglasses brand
- Warby Parker — Online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses
Beauty and Cosmetics
- Sephora — Beauty products brand
Jewelry & Accessories
- Baume — High-end watching making brand
- IKEA — Affordable furniture company
- Amazon — Multinational technology company with a focus on eCommerce
- Houzz — Online community about interior design and home improvement
The future of retailing
Virtual “try-before-you-buy” experiences are here to stay and have only been accelerated in the pandemic. Using virtual try-on brings a seamless and fun experience to consumers; something that has traditionally been hard to confidently purchase online. Embrace it or risk getting left behind by the brands and retailers listening to their customers and rethinking their shopping experiences with virtual try-on technologies.
Once a cool feature is now essential in our current pandemic realities. Do your research when considering virtual reality solutions, not all are created equal. If you need help considering virtual try-on solutions for the eyewear industry, check out our eCommerce VTO guide here where we have outlined the differences and key aspects to consider.