Immersive technology continues to transform the retail sector as we once knew it. As we swap high street stores for Web3 alternatives, AR, and VR innovations have become the newest shopping trend on the market. Let us see how Immersive Tech can transform your shopping experience!
From AR-infused magic mirrors to a future of fashion in the metaverse, technology is revolutionising consumer shopping experiences both in, and out of the store. With the ability to personalise the purchase journey, it’s no wonder that savvy digital natives are on board.
On the back of Agility PR’s claim that brand customisation alone drives 40% more conversions, the introduction of virtual picking assistants, and digitally enhanced browsing have certainly been a hit for high street giants, and their customers.
Let’s have a closer look at the AR/VR innovations shaping the retail sector, and explore how immersive tech could upgrade your next shopping trip.
AR is reinventing a digital high street. Opening up a physical retailer’s ability to connect to an online world offers customers a level of personalisation that has never been seen in the store.
One development in particular that is hitting high street stores with a bang is the ‘magic mirror’. Powered by augmented reality, the magic mirror allows potential buyers to see themselves in a number of in-store, and online items without even entering the changing room.
From Uniqlo to Sephora, the magic mirror has been picked up by a range of brand giants. Superdry took the innovation one step further, using AR mirror tech to showcase their 2016 winter collection.
Instead of displaying their line in store in a traditional way, they encourage consumers in their flagship Berlin store to try on ski jackets, and goggles in a virtual setting before transporting them straight from the store to the slopes.
“We’ve designed the smart mirror to stop shoppers in their tracks with an engaging, fun, and highly interactive experience that brings them closer to the Superdry brand, and products,” says Pat Fahy, Seymourpowell’s creative director.
“A large full-length screen that acts like a mirror prompts customers to browse the collections using swiping gestures, and select their favourites with an ‘air punch’. Integrated body tracking technology allows them to try on the garments digitally as they browse.”
On the back of its success, a whopping 8 in 10 customers are now excited to enter high street stores with AR enhancements. Not only is this slowly drawing traffic back to a post-Covid high street, but it is prioritising personalisation like never before.
Virtual shopping assistants
Combining the use of AR, and AI, virtual shopping assistants have also hit the ground running in the ecommerce world. From AR-generated apps with sharable try-on filters to AI-powered chatbots pulling up the perfect product, 24/7 brand communication has become the new norm.
Virtual assistants help guide consumers from first impressions to checkout. Able to answer up to 80% of routine questions, 34% of shoppers believe that they offer personalised experiences that can’t be matched.
AI-powered shopping helpers can automatically answer consumer questions without the need for human intervention, and use the data they receive to pick out customer products, styles, and colours for undecided shoppers.
Take Sephora, for example. Their virtual assistants help consumers choose the best makeup shade for their skin, and aid them in picking a lip colour that pops.
Better still, combining their virtual shopping program with AR, customers can then try on virtual makeup, and see how it looks on their skin, all before heading to the checkout.
Try before you buy
Have you ever wondered what something would look like in your home before you purchased it? In an era of online shopping, return rates have never been higher. The average consumer is 30% more likely to return an online purchase than one from a brick-and-mortar store.
This is often due to the product appearing different on screen to how it appears in reality.
Online furniture retailers like Ikea, and Sofology aim to combat this with their newest ‘try before you buy’ system. Using augmented reality, consumers can now use their smartphones or computer to transport a piece of furniture straight into their living room.
Take Sofology as an example. Allowing their consumers to drag, and drop their sofas into a bespoke environment, potential buyers can quickly view a product to scale, and play around with colours, and textures in their own space.
This tool is especially helpful for colour matching, and makes it easy for consumers to make a confident purchase decision.
Is the high street moving to the metaverse?
As AR, and VR tech evolves, could the high street be set to move to the metaverse? After a recent report by Technavio suggested that the market for global fashion in the metaverse could hit $6.1 billion by 2026, are we looking at a future of NFT clothing, and virtual brand lines?
The metaverse has already held two Fashion Weeks, and is currently home to high-end giants like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Balenciaga. As a new approach to the shopping experience, fashion in the metaverse is much more fluid.
Consumers can customise clothing to fit their avatars, and really take self-expression to the next level.
The gamification of the fashion industry has opened doors for brands to trial new ideas, push the boat out with designs, and bring exciting launches to fans at a quicker pace.
“With many brands still struggling with production, and supply chain issues due to the pandemic, digital fashion could also allow them to deliver more new ideas, and exciting launches to their fan base much more quickly, and easily than when relying on garment production,” says Catherine Erdly, founder of the Resilient Retail Club.
“The key to digital fashion, as with all new technology, is creating an integrated approach across all platforms, creating a uniform experience for the customer across both the digital, and physical touchpoints.”
As we move into a technologically dominated era, the metaverse is tipped to define the future of fashion.
As younger generations jump into a virtual world, the ability to access high-end fashion brands in a digital landscape could be a high-street killer but a money-making opportunity that brands would be mindless to miss.