In the height of the coronavirus pandemic and an increasingly digital world, online retailers have begun to offer virtual try-on experiences, allowing users to experiment with a variety of items from the comfort of their homes.
Through the use of Augmented Reality technology, the nature of the shopping experience has evolved, as it now provides customers with the option to preview furniture items in their house, or test eyewear and makeup virtually.
This technology has become increasingly important during the pandemic, with the IBM’s 2020 U.S. Retail Index Report revealing an accelerated shift to online shopping over the last five years.
For example, makeup retailers such as Sephora and Ulta must be increasingly aware of hygiene and safety. As a result, in-person shoppers are no longer allowed to physically try-on makeup products within their stores.
In 2016 Ulta launched their virtual try-on tool GLAMlab. More recently, the online aid also saw a seven-fold surge in engagement with more than 50 million shades of foundation were digitally swatched post-COVID, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Due to this shift, AR has become more useful for consumers. In a 2019 NielsenIQ global survey, consumers listed AR/VR as one of their top technologies used for assisting them in daily life.
The pandemic has created barriers in terms of safety and hygiene for retailers and the beauty industry. However, with the recent surge in AR technology use, businesses now have the opportunity to expand their services to people worldwide regardless of global conditions.
In a 2020 Harvard Business Review technology article, Helen Papagiannis writes that “the old rulebook of how we understand and interact within the real world no longer applies, and in many mays, the pandemic has been a catalyst for this digital transformation” and that AR “can add enormous value for consumers.”
To accommodate the massive shift to online shopping, industries have been forced to get creative with their marketing tool designs. With the implementation of AR, the beauty and fashion industries have begun to shift towards a more innovative digital world, an approach that does not seem to be slowing down any time soon.