Augmented Reality Overhauls Retail and Fashion Industries

Digital Bridge research shows that 69% of consumers expect retailers to launch AR apps within the next six months.

Let’s try to peer into the near future and see what technologies will overhaul fashion and retail in the next couple of years.

The role of the AR technologies is just that — to transform and expand reality, and that’s particularly why it can be put to use in the retail and fashion industries. The fact is that while AR has been around for a few years, 2017 has been the beginning of actual mass consumer use, in no small part thanks to smartphone integration. No longer is the debate about which is better — online retail or actual physical stores. With AR, consumer get to enjoy elements of both, as stores becoming more infused with interactive elements. Insights from Google show that 34% of users would use AR while shopping, and 61% would prefer to shop in stores that offer AR. AR is by all means set to reconnect physical and digital retail.

Already we have seen multiple retailers and brands plunging in. IKEA and Anthropologie were some of the first partners for Apple’s launch, using ARkit to add features to their apps, so that you can see furniture in your own room to get a real feel for what it will look like if you buy it. Others, including Wayfair and Houzz, have also jumped on board. Google has already worked with the likes of Pottery Barn and Gap through its earlier Tango AR platform, and is now said to be doing so with all manner of brands for ARcore. Fashion retailer Uniqlo introduced AR-enabled changing rooms, which let clients try on virtual versions of its clothes. Customers can try on dozens of outfits in different colors with a few swipes of a touchscreen and see how they look in a Magic Mirror.

But AR use is not restricted to physical stores. Chinese online grocery store Yihaodian has used AR to open virtual supermarkets in various locations, from car parks to tourist hotspots. All users have to do is open the app in the designated location to see virtual aisles stacked full of groceries. When added to their basket, the items are delivered to their home a couple of days later.

For some players in the luxury industry, AR technologies offer a powerful new digital growth channel. For instance, Gap has also opened AR dressing rooms that allow consumers to try on the clothes digitally. In general, AR has lower barriers to adoption than VR, which is costly and comes with a steep learning curve for consumers. Recently, AR applications — mostly geared towards trying on clothes — have spread relatively quickly as fashion brands and retailers join the trend. Cappasity is excited to see how the AR/VR industry is expanding traditional retail and fashion experience. We solve the critical issue for AR/VR/3D content in retail industry — rapid production of thousands of 3D images.

Beauty brands are also applying AR. Within the last year, Sephora, Charlotte Tilbury and Rimmel have all launched AR applications that allow users to try on products via a filter on their phones. That perspective follows earlier success for AR in the beauty industry: There have been more than 20 million downloads of L’Oreal’s Makeup Genius app!