Amazon opens a hair salon, but where are the virtual fitting rooms?
Why do online retailers keep ignoring augmented reality fitting rooms?
Every blue moon, Jeff Bezos must sit at home watching old episodes of “Pinky and the Brain” to try to figure out who he can put out of business. Although he plans to step down as Amazon’s CEO in quarter 3 of this year to take on other projects — after taking on diaper companies, bookstores, beauty and cosmetic manufacturers, every brick and mortar retailer, original movies and TV shows, music stores, and grocery stores — the online marketplace bigwig has moved on to a new target: hair salons.
According to Quartz, the two-floor hair salon — spanning more than 1,500 square feet in London’s Spitalfields neighborhood — will be a place for people to get haircuts, highlights, texturizer treatments and braids. However, the goal is larger than getting a new “do” — Amazon wants to test out “point-and-learn technology.” Customers can test out different hair colors via augmented reality and even buy products for delivery using a QR code.
And once again I’m left wondering the same exact question I’ve been trying to figure out for years: Why do retailers keep ignoring virtual fitting rooms? Although coronavirus vaccines have opened up to people of all ages this week, people largely are still not rushing out to malls and retail stores to try on clothes that everybody else in the store could’ve tried on before them.
My reasons for virtual fitting rooms are selfish but needed
My favorite brand of jeans are JLo Bootcut jeans. When I was in college, it was Apple Bottoms and Baby Phat. I had a short love affair with Silver. The main reason I love these jeans so much is because I can buy a pile of them and know exactly how they’ll fit without going into a dressing room. Some people love trying on 20 outfits before they find the right one. I don’t.
The radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in Adidas London fitting rooms is onto something. When you go into this flagship store, you can see what you look like running on treadmills and exercising in their athletic apparel. FXGear Inc.’s Fit’N Shop and Fitle are even better. When you walk up to these augmented reality mirrors, you can get a visual of what you’ll look like wearing a bunch of outfits — without changing in and out of them. But that only works if you happen to be in Paris or shopping at one of the 50 e-shops that allow you to do so.
Recommended Read: “If the Technology Fits, Wear It ~ The Missed Potential of Virtual Fitting Rooms”
While the convenience of online shopping for groceries, electronics and home decor has made life easier for pretty much everyone, online clothing shopping still leaves much to be desired. The W Hotel and Rent the Runway have already figured that out. It’s one of the reasons they’re helping travelers shop lighter by bringing outfits directly to them. Forget saying you have “nothing to wear.” They’ll give you all the options you need and hang them up in your hotel room before you even check-in.
This W Hotel and Rent the Runway partnership is probably annoying to airports, who keep trying to find new ways to overcharge travelers for carry-on luggage and additional bags. But it’s a relief for people who don’t want to get their new outfits all wrinkled. Or worse, lost during the flight. But that still leaves Rent the Runway online members crossing their fingers and hoping that their chosen outfits fit well before their big events.
And while Amazon was biting off of Tmall, in hopes of gaining some of their online luxury fashion customers (and now beauty salons), they’re still missing out on an obvious opportunity: Use augmented reality and virtual fitting rooms to make people want to buy more clothes. For women who are confident in their clothing sizes no matter the brand, these kinds of online shopping options are a dream.
No long lines. No grumpy customers. No cashiers who act like their presence is better than a bag full of diamonds. No disorganized racks. No six-foot stickers. No glaring at anyone who keeps shifting a face mask around. And no aimless searching for retail employees to help them find an item. It makes sense. But if the apparel company and the online retailer aren’t trying to figure out ways to make sure you actually keep the items instead of going back to their nearest department store or shipping company to return them, it’s not helpful for anyone.
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