Pancakes in a Virtual Kitchen and Online Fitting — How Retail Uses AR/VR

Valeriia Kyselova
Account Manager

The cold hard statistical figures show that by 2021, the market of augmented reality and virtual reality will reach 215 billion US dollars.

Of course, the largest share is occupied by video games and other entertainment. However, the retail industry is also making use of these advanced technologies.

augmented reality retail screenshot

Image credit: Statista

Through AR and VR, retail shopping platforms can create unusual user experiences transporting customers to the virtual space or placing virtual items in their environment.

Augmented reality and virtual reality, when used in the retail applications, combine the comfort and easiness of online shopping and the possibility to “touch” and “try” that, up until recently, was available only in the brick-and-mortar stores.

Can AR and VR really boost sales or is it just another thing for geeks?

Of course, such questions may come to mind, especially in the view of the fact that implementing augmented reality and virtual reality in an e-commerce application may be a costly solution.

Here are some more stats for you:

augmented reality retail experience

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As you can see, customers trust brands that implement AR and sometimes prefer them over others.

In 2018, we are used to online shopping, and yet another e-commerce platform is not going to attract too much attention.

At the same time, we will be excited to explore the solutions that combine the convenience of e-commerce with the offline experience of trying-on and touching the items.

With our busy schedules, it may be difficult to find time to go to a store and look at things before buying them.

Augmented reality and virtual reality bring the stores to our homes and show what our purchases will look like in the real environment.

This is what the users love and what makes an e-commerce platform different.

The statistics above show that the use of advanced technologies as AR and VR can raise the conversion rate and bring more customers to the store. In addition, it reduces the number of returns, as customers can see whether the item “fits” already during the purchase.

The retail sector has quickly recognized the opportunities AR and VR bring to it, and new applications implementing new technologies appear in various sectors of the retail market.

AR in fashion retail — Gap Virtual Dressing Room

At the 2017 CES exhibition, Gap, US-based clothing retail, presented its virtual dressing room AR application. At that time, the AR app was still in its pilot stage; however, the potential is obvious.

The Gap application uses augmented reality to let users see how the clothes fit right on their smartphone screens.

You can try Gap on wherever you are – just download the AR app, select the clothing item, choose your body size, and you will see the 3D image of the selected item fitted to your size.

Despite certain drawbacks, such as limited device support, the Gap augmented reality app attracted quite a lot of attention at the CES event.

augmented reality retail

Image credit: Gap Inc.

However, augmented reality in fashion is not limited to virtual try-ons. Brands use AR to attract more customers to their events and stores.

For example, Burberry added AR to its application that places Burberry-related images on the picture viewed through the smartphone camera.

virtual reality retail

Read also: E-commerce and Virtual Reality: A Practical Guide to Implementing VR in Your Business

Zara, on the other hand, is following a different path. In 2018, the brand planned a new experience for customers of some of its offline stores.

Customers with the Zara app installed in their smartphones were able to see models parading through the store wearing the clothes offered in the same location.

As you can see, augmented reality and virtual reality open new horizons for fashion retail creating unprecedented experiences for users.

AR in the beauty industry – Sephora Virtual Artist

The beauty industry and augmented reality are made for each other.

Beauty, like no other sector, is focused on trying on. Hardly any customer would buy cosmetics without first applying it on their face.

You can judge whether a lipstick or eyeshadow fits only after you have seen how it looks with your skin tone, eye color, and face shape.

Thus, beauty brands are eager to integrate augmented reality in their applications.

One of the best-known examples is Sephora Virtual Artist applying makeup to the photo uploaded to the app.

The AR application uses the face recognition technology, too, allowing to put on makeup very precisely.

vr retail looks

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Sephora is not the only brand enhancing user experiences through augmented reality. Recently, Benefit released an application allowing selecting the most fitting brow shape and color.

Of course, you can also shop for the Benefit products that can help you create your perfect brows within the same application.

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And that’s not all. Estée Lauder, for example, rolled out a feature allowing to apply lipstick or eyeshadow either to an uploaded photo or the live image captured by the device camera.

It is a truly amazing example of state-of-the-art technology implemented in a beauty app – augmented reality with advanced face tracking and face recognition create a realistic sensation of looking in the mirror and trying various beauty products.

AR in home decor and furniture — Amazon AR View

Home decor is another sector where the purchase often depends on the ability to “try” the item in the actual interior.

So many subtle nuances in the color, size, and shape can make a beautiful vase or cabinet absolutely out of place in a room.

Thus, many customers welcome the opportunity of virtual “placing” the furniture in their homes before actually buying it.

For this reason, many furniture and home decor stores are working on applications allowing to view their merchandise in a real environment.

One of the latest additions in this area is Amazon AR View, an application placing the items from the Amazon catalog to the spot where your smartphone camera is pointing.

The augmented reality app also allows rotating and moving items with simple finger gestures.

With Amazon AR View, you can see how the item fits into your interior and can make a better decision.

AR for retail Amazon

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Of course, other home decor stores do not want to lag behind in implementing AR and VR in their applications.

In 2017, Houzz, a home remodeling and design platform, launched an AR enhancement for its iOS application.

With this AR app, you can place the selected furniture pieces right in your home interior and move them around to see how they fit.

virtual reality retail houzz

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VR in home design – IKEA Virtual Kitchen

IKEA, a global Sweden-based home design and furniture mega-store, went even further and applied virtual reality in its offline locations.

By offering the visitors to try on a VR headset, IKEA transported them into a virtual kitchen fully equipped with IKEA furniture, appliances, and utensils.

The completely immersive VR experience allowed not only viewing the interior but also interacting with various items. You could open drawers, switch appliances on and off and even try cooking virtual pancakes.

In addition to being funny and entertaining, the VR application has a practical purpose.

With the IKEA Virtual Kitchen experience, you could immediately feel whether the kitchen is convenient for you and decide if you would like to have a similar design at home.

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Virtual stores — Alibaba and eBay

Virtual reality has multiple benefits both for customers and for retail stores. VR creates an entirely new environment surrounding users with objects that exist only in the virtual space.

For users, it is a great way of interacting with the objects they are thinking of purchasing before actually making the purchase.

For the retail stores, the advantage is in the possibility of expanding their store area with the virtual space.

With a VR app, customers can wander through endless shopping aisles browsing the merchandise while actually staying within a standard size store.

Moreover, some VR applications create virtual reality experiences wherever you are – you can go shopping without leaving the comfort of your home. Although, in this case, you need a VR headset.

Alibaba, a Chinese online shopping platform, brought virtual reality into the program of its annual Singles Day event.

It offered simple VR viewers at $0.15, where visitors could insert their smartphones and browse the virtual store. Of course, the shoppers should have Alibaba’s Buy+ application installed to enjoy VR shopping.

What is especially important is that the Alibaba VR application supported the full shopping cycle – you could “place” items into your cart and even pay for them by holding your gaze on the “buy” icon.

virtual reality retail experience

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eBay, a global e-commerce marketplace, teamed up with Myer, a retail store from Australia, and launched a virtual store in 2016.

It is a virtual reality application available both for iOS and for Android that has to be used together with a VR headset.

However, during the campaign, eBay and Myer gave away about 20,000 simple VR headsets free of charge.

To start virtual shopping, you only needed to insert your smartphone with the eBay Sight Search VR app – and get carried away by the selection of thousands of items that you could view, turn, zoom and add to your basket.

vr and retail fitbit

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You can see that the advantages of implementing augmented reality and virtual reality in the retail industry are multiple.

The new technologies, on one hand, create new experiences and, on the other hand, attract users by their innovation.

By including AR/VR into your app, you will appeal both to the users’ sense of convenience and to their curiosity and eagerness to try something new.

At the same time, such results are possible only when the application is developed professionally.

There is nothing more miserable than an application pretending to be hi-tech while offering poor user experience.

However, professional augmented reality and virtual reality development company will deliver an app that users are going to love.

Contact us for a consultation of an AR/VR project you have in mind, and we’ll help you turn your ideas into a perfect product.

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