Is AR the next critical investment for fashion retailers?

Early fashion ecommerce faced one major problem – customers were used to shopping in-store, being able to touch clothes, see exactly how they looked, and try them on for size.

Ironically, real-world fashion retail now faces problems of its own, as consumers have become used to having product reviews and other information at their fingertips online. Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to bridge that gap between bricks-and-mortar fashion retail and online fashion ecommerce, bringing the two closer together to create a more seamless shopping experience for consumers across both channels.

What do fashion shoppers want?

Fashion – especially everyday clothing – is not inherently a high-tech segment, but customers’ expectations of the shopping experience are now relatively high.

A 2020 paper from Loughborough University titled ‘How to Design Effective AR Retail Apps’ by Liangchao Xue, Christopher J Parker and Cathryn Hart lists some customers’ top expectations from the modern-day shopping experience:

  • A simple shopping process with minimal waiting and queue times
  • Enjoyable high-tech elements like AR/VR, AI and product interactivity
  • High service standards and information about products and brand culture

“To improve these three expectations, a rich sense of design – and powerful apps – is necessary to improve the shopping experience,” the authors write. “Smart app features intrigue consumers.”

What can fashion AR do?

Fashion augmented reality can close some of the gap between real-world and online fashion retail, giving customers a virtual version of the services and shopping styles they value most. Writing in the International Journal of Technology for Business in June 2020, Maria Pinas Pares, Querubina Cruz and Laura Sanchez looked at the role of fashion VR in ecommerce.

They noted how brands like L’Oreal and Volvo have introduced on-site VR facilities to help their real-world shopping experiences match the attractiveness of ecommerce.

The authors go on to list some of the possibilities for fashion AR, including:

  • Interactive virtual mirrors
  • Virtual glasses
  • Virtual fitting rooms

AR apps have the potential to allow customers to “feel like you were shopping and trying all the clothes without moving off the sofa”, they add. Meanwhile for fashion ecommerce brands, “online purchase is expected to be more secure because the consumer can virtually try outfits before buying”.

Retailer benefits of fashion AR

Finally, let’s round up the benefits of fashion AR for retailers, both real-world, ecommerce and multi-channel.

Augmented reality allows you to deliver a more seamless experience across retail channels, with a single digital storefront for ecommerce purchases and to augment the in-store experience. Customers benefit from access to product information and independent reviews, which can be curated to present your products in a positive light.

Shoppers can also ‘try before they buy’, using virtual fitting rooms to check how garments look, which should lead to fewer returns, refunds, and associated costs for the retailer.

Get started with fashion AR

Whether you want an augmented reality fashion app from scratch, or you have an existing storefront or ecommerce app and want to integrate AR into it, Spike95 can help.

Our deep understanding of the fashion retail segment across all channels, virtual and real-world, means we are perfectly placed to help you modernise your customer experience.

By creating an AR app that enhances the shopping experience across all the channels in which you operate, you can improve brand awareness and positivity, raise customer enjoyment, and ultimately maximise conversion rates and revenues across your business.

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