As retailers reaches for high-tech solutions – shoppers say naah

There’s apparently a gap between what customers want from retailers, and what retailers plan to give them. At least according to a research report made by Swedish payment solution company Klarna, and based on research from 50 retail decision makers and 2 000 shoppers. The report shows that the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality solutions retailers want to invest in, would actually be rejected by 4 in 5 shoppers.
But does that mean retailers are completely wrong about investing in shopping related tech? Not necessarily.
We have to take into account the fact that a lot of these technologies are still in very early stages, as I have adressed here and here in the past couple of days. They are new to most consumers and not always that easy and smooth to use either. Tech like VR for instance, requires certain equipment that is still quite expensive. Of course a lot of consumers are going to reject anything that just seems tricky to use.
However, things change fast.
Expensive tech tends to get cheaper, hard to use solutions tend to get more user friendly over time.
So what do the consumers actually want then, according to this research? Well, most of them think online shopping is more convenient, but agree that brick and mortar stores offer a human touch that can’t be recreated online. About one fifth of them are positive to both VR and AR solutions such as smart mirrors/changing rooms and using VR headsets.
But on top of the shoppers list is simply to find the right fit. A task that is probably harder than ever for consumers with different brands having different sizing systems.
There’s a window of opportunity here: But it needs to be in a way that shoppers find accessible.

 

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Swedish online store Chiquelle launches AR try-on app

An AR app for digital try-ons with the ultimate goal to lower return rates – that’s the plan for Swedish online store Chiquelle. Just in time for buyer fest Black Friday, the company will launch an app where the customers can try on clothes digitally, using an avatar.
High return rates are a big problem in the fashion industry today. Customers usually get free returns in order to make their purchase as smooth as possible. But it’s expensive. For the companies, and most of all – for the environment.
Attempting to solve this problem is therefore a great initiative, and something that all of fashion must give some serious thought. So what about the app then? Well, you just choose body type, size on upper and lower body and skin colour, and then take a selfie to complete the avatar. After that, you get to choose two items from the beta version mini collection and try it on in the environment you’re in.
According to Swedish magazine DI Digital who tested the beta version, there’s still a lot of work to do before the app works properly. But if the glitches can be fixed, I celebrate the idea of virtual try-on and look forward to it as a function in the future.

Consumers: give us AR tools for online shopping!

Are consumers warming up to the idea of virtually enhancing their online shopping? So it seems, according to a new report from e-commerce agency PushOn, The Current Daily reports.
According to the study, 45 percent of consumers would spend more money online if they had access to technology to help them visualize what they’re buying, while more than half (52 %) think that retailers should invest in technology for creating a seamless link between in-store and online shopping.
40 percent of the surveyed shoppers, would also specifically like to use some kind of Augmented Reality solution to try out what they’re buying beforehand.
Zara, Ikea, Google and Apple have all begun to invest in these technologies, and it seems it was right on time.

AR sneak peak with Adidas new ”virtual unboxing” experience

The unboxing subculture just got another special feature. Shortly before the release of their new ”Deerupt” shoe last week, Adidas Originals launched a virtual unboxing experience using AR. By clicking a link, customers would see a virtual box open up and reveal the shoe. Users could then check out the shoe from every angle, using a cursor of fingertip to move it around.
Harry Bee, chief creative officer of Annex88, the agency who worked with Adidas Originals on the AR program, told Glossy magazine that the idea was to democratize the experience that only a lucky few usually gets experience.

Zara goes AR in their window displays

Starting in April, clothing chain Zara will introduce AR in their window displays. The move is said to be a way of attracting millennials who tend to prefer online alternatives such as Amazon to physical stores, according to Reuters.
So how will this AR installation work exactly? Well, when holding a mobile phone to a sensor in the window (or inside the store), customers will be able to see models wearing different looks, and also click to buy what they want.
The AR displays will be introduced in 120 Zara stores all over the world, from April 18.

SXSW 2018: Bose launches ‘hear what you see’ AR sunglasses

Audio AR? Now, what on earth is that? Well, we all know about visual AR, where you put a layer of extra visual information to what you see in your surroundings. For instance a map with directions on top of the street view you have in front of you. Audio AR is instead a layer of sound information added to what you see around you. And this is exactly what headphone company Bose is doing with their prototype AR sunglasses they just presented at SXSW.
So how does it work then? Well, you put the glasses on and as soon as you see something you want to know more about, you just tap on the stem and you get the info right in your ear. The glasses know what you’re looking at without needing a camera. Instead they use on-board motion sensors that can detect the direction you’re facing. They are also programmed to recognize head gestures, such as nodding and turning. For instance, you can nod your head to take an incoming call or shake it to decline.
Designwise they actually look pretty good for a prototype, and according to reports they are very light and easy to wear. So that’s promising.
But of course it’s all about the data. So far Bose is working with TripAdvisor, Yelp, Asics Studio, Strava and TuneIn, and hopefully there’s more to come for this product to work the way it’s intended.
The glasses will be released in a first version this summer.
Bose_AR_Prototype_Glasses-Social
Photo: Bose

Amazon Alexa-powered glasses to debut at CES

Soon you’l be able to talk to Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, in more places than in the e-commerce giant’s own device Echo. Now the company has taken yet another step towards becoming a serious part of digital every day life, by letting other companies use Alexa in their products.
One of them is a pair of smart glasses manufactured by the small company Vuzix Corp that’s going to be showcased at CES2018 in Las Vegas this week. The Vuzix Blade, as the glasses are called, can communicate with the voice activated digital assistant and also show information like for instance maps, directions, social media feeds or sport scores in the wearer’s view field, according to Business of Fashion. This is not the only third-party company that uses Alexas communication skills. In October, Sonos released a smart speaker with Alexa’s system for music playing.
Fashion-wise, they do have a long way to go though. Looking like your typical movie theatre 3D glasses, this is not the product that’s going to popularize the smart glasses, I am sorry to say. But I guess we’ll just keep on waiting.

Screenshots of The Vuzix Blade smart glasses, powered by Amazon’s Alexa voice activated digital assistant.