Fashion RetailTech With Augmented Reality – The Next Frontier
Fashion Retailtech is a new augmented reality-based tech aimed at replacing the static web pages on one hand and improving the physical stores with holograms and interactive digital layers of data on the other hand. We’ve met Emma by the main entrance of the Luis Vuitton store in White City shopping centre, in London. Without saying a word Emma points her iPhone X at the huge display window. In the window are three white mannequins dressed in long evening dresses, along with the shiny squares that display a few canvas LV bags, accessories and a pair of beautiful high heels in red.
On the smartphone’s screen, there’s only the space described in front of us. But then, a small digital 3D logo like pops-up on the screen. Emma then moves her phone closer to one of the mannequins and by swiping up and down starts changing the details of the dress. The texture, colour, and even the length can be changed. Seeing our amazement, she explains: “The whole Fashion Retailtech AR construct is based on holograms constructed in an augmented reality universe, all invisible to the naked eye, then superimposed via the screen on the top of the physical world, as we know it.
Augmenting Fashion Garments With Holograms
Emma is a former Facebook engineer and new Fashion Tech executive at a startup company here in London called EyeX. The startup Emma runs develops augmented reality systems for fashion and luxury retailers, similar to the AR demo she just revealed to us. Emma is part of a fast-growing group of software developers and fashion retailers enchanted by the existing potential in interactive AR apps and the future of online-offline commerce applicability.
The Fashion Retailtech AR is based on existing AR technology that’s able to superimpose digital images over the real world objects. Moreover, it can bestow the physical garments with useful information such as existing stock, available sizes, country of provenience, and even matching styles. Emma continues to explain: “The user interface for e-commerce and the way consumers interact with the physical retail hasn’t changed in over 50 years. Somehow it still works if you’re after paper tissues, but to the new generations of fashion buyers it is no longer sufficient or even satisfactory.”
According to the Mintel, e-commerce sales make up to only five percent of total retail sales in the world, thus inventing new ways for buyers to see what a jacket might look like on them, without stepping a foot in the physical store has become critical. Also, the buyer can assess a pair of trousers on a virtual 3D model thanks to the Fashion Retailtech AR. When the adoption is completed, this new technology is predicted to boost the e-commerce sales to over fifty percent by 2020, while also reducing unnecessary expenses such as petrol, time, traffic of people going to brick-and-mortar stores.
What Keeps AR Technology From Reaching Mainstream?
While AR is far more interactive than the static web pages, the problem with AR tech is its inability to give the buyer the feel of fabric textures or the exact fit of the dress. Moreover, the steep costs of implementing the infrastructure and prove the customers with free AR glasses is what keeps the Fashion Retailtech from reaching the mainstream. However, AR developers are not deterred from designing new apps for the upcoming stream of AR compatible smartphones.
Even software developer giants like Facebook, Google and Apple have embarked on the AR trend. ARKit on Apple’s iOS and ARCore on Google’s Android are two of the best AR platforms for smartphones expected to drive significant growth in the number of AR apps, features and mainstream AR adoption in retail tech.
At the same time, while the AR adoption in e-commerce is in its infancy fashion retailers show increasing interest even in the most futuristic AR concepts for their retail omnichannel. Some ingenious ideas include the capability of changing the colour of the garments on the mannequin straight on your smartphone’s screen, and the more complex ones guide you inside the store using holograms and AR advertising on your AR compatible glasses.
So far, AR has found an immediate audience in the gaming industry but found little adoption in new areas such as retail, where online and traditional stores are still unsure of how to test and use the technologies. However, as AR continue to develop and become more prominent in smartphones, it will alter both, consumers’ shopping habits and retailers way of advertising and sell online and offline.