June 25, 2024


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The future of Augmented Reality for retailers

5 min read
The future of Augmented Reality for retailers

Modern Retail spoke with Fintan Gillespie at Snap Inc. about the uses or AR, the launch of AR mirrors and the benefits of these technology advancements for retailers.

The future of AR for retail

Augmented reality for retailers is already something that can be utilised. Fintan explained the opportunities that already exist: “The key thing for us with AR is that the tech is here now. A lot of people believe it’s something in the future, but it’s here and the big question for retailers is “why would I use this tech?”

“We look at the key business impact that technology can make to the retail industry, and particularly the ecommerce industry, which is plagued by returns. It’s a major problem for the environment and costs the retail environment about 7 billion a year in lost profit margin.”

How AR can be used to benefit retailers

Augmented reality is able to boost conversions and reduce returns in retail. As such, businesses can benefit greatly if they are able to introduce an AR touchpoint on their website or instore.

“We have tech that allows you to personalise the retail experience. Particularly with apparel, you’re scrolling through an endless feed of items on models and not you. This is why the conversion rates are lower on ecommerce. We think you can personalise this and make it more enjoyable and engaging for shoppers.

“There are fit analytics that make recommendations, and AR that lets you try on products through your phone camera. 

“AR enterprise embeds our AR and sizing tech on retail websites and it’s seeing jumps in conversion rates. People get a view of what a colour and style looks like on them and they’re much more likely to buy it and not return it. The data we have from our recent case studies supports that.”

Bringing new possibilities

“We’re leading the way in the space of augmented reality. We have to build a lot of tech for anything you see and this tech has come on a long way to track as you move, for example.

“Snap opens the camera. We have 750 million monthly active users on the platform and two-thirds of those log in every day and play with AR, so we have incredible distribution and user behaviour. This means if you’re a retailer with the foundations of AR built, you can easily do AR advertising and we envisage a world where you can do this.”

Snap’s ARES Shopping Suite

Snap is introducing a range of mirrors, including full length and footwear mirrors. This is set to combine physical and online retail and boost conversions for retailers that utilise the tech.

“These blend digital and physical, and post-COVID there is a role for this. When shops and flagships are busy, people don’t want to wait for ages and they want to get a sense of products. It’s perfect, for example, if a retailer doesn’t have your shoe size instore, but you still want to see what it could look like.”

Fintan went on to show the Modern Retail team the shoe try-on within the Snap app and explain how Vogue made the most of the mirrors: “In real-time, this tech is working and we did this with top designers. Couture fashion is all about storytelling, so they showed this incredible coat and then when you arrived at the mirror, the coat dropped onto you. You can turn and spin and see how real it looks on you.

Augmented reality for retailers

“Mirrors have been in stores for so long, but the underlying tech makes a difference. Once the tech is in place, it’s easy to add new items. There is so much work to do to make sure items of clothing flow and fall how they would in real life and the mirrors also have UI elements, so you can swipe between different looks and engage without even having to touch the screen.”

Examples of Snap’s AR technology to transform the retail experience

  • H&M – Snap launched a Camera Kit integration with H&M with shoppers able to digitally try-on an immersive AR fashion collection, co-designed by H&M and the Institute of Digital Fashion.
  • Boots – Snapchat partnered with Boots to launch an AR lens that enabled Snapchatters to try-on and experience products from the return of their 17 cosmetics brand. Boots’ target female audience enjoyed an average lens play time three times the typical average. The multiformat campaign delivered a 3pt increase in brand awareness.
  • Estée Lauder – Estee Lauder uses Snapchat to reach a GenZ audience and give them an alternative experience of their products. For example a shoppable, multiproduct AR Lens which allows users to virtually try on three different products – Primer, Foundation, Lipstick.
  • JD Sports – Snapchat worked with JD Sports  to launch an experience which transformed the front of its Oxford Street store into a free interactive AR claw grabber game. To play, shoppers can scan the Snapcode on the store window, to see the popular claw machine arcade game appear on the storefront in AR.

Click here to learn more about Snap’s ARES Shopping Suite.

Other updates from Snap

Fintan went on to speak about some of the other advancements Snap are making in the industry.

“We are making a lot of investments on the Snap Map. I can see restaurants in Paris that are popular with my friends. We’re making improvements for place recommendations and working with the creator community. Our Chat GPT integration will allow you to ask questions and we will surface links from the map for you to explore, for example “Where is the nearest nice Italian restaurant” and we’ll be showing a 3D version of the map. Investing into the interactivity of the map has a role in driving footfall into stores in the long run.”

Snap Map - Augmented Reality (AR) for retailers

“With Bitmoji, we recently announced Bitmoji fashion drops, where the likes of Adidas can drop an exclusive shoe and people can get this on their Bitmoji. The exclusivity drives a lot of excitement in the retail world.”

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