Redefining Retail with AR

As more consumers seek out safe and responsible ways to shop, we take a closer look at how the growing trend of branded augmented reality (AR) filters can have a huge impact on the future of retail in the post pandemic world.

WHAT ARE AR FILTERS?

AR filters allow consumers to ‘try on’ items through their mobile devices. Utilising the consumer’s camera, AR filters provide a ‘real-time’ shopping experience without the need to handle and try on goods. As brands respond to increasing consumer desire to provide a safe and responsible retail environment, we can expect to see more widespread adoption in the coming year and beyond.

Indeed, last year, as we reported in a previous blog post, Snapchat utilised their AR shoppable filter ‘Lenses’ ahead of the launch of the Gucci’s ‘Ace’ trainer range. Customers pointed their phone camera at their feet and could see what the shoes looked like on by utilising a special Lens. This was the first time an AR Lens had featured a ‘Shop Now’ button whereby customers could purchase through the app, though we suspect it will not be the last.

 

 

THE SOCIAL RACE

Snapchat are not the only social platform that are investing in AR and shoppable filters. Both Instagram and Pinterest allow for AR filters at different complexity levels, and TikTok is said to be looking to expand its e-commerce operation in the coming year by branching into AR.

However, Snapchat is currently at the forefront of the AR filter race. Through the ‘Brand Profiles’ feature, consumers can browse and purchase items directly within the app as well as seeing stories and highlights from brands to get a better flavour of what is on offer. Brands can also save and showcase any AR ‘Lenses’ they’ve created, helping consumers make better decisions when purchasing, as well as maximising the value of the AR experiences.

American Eagle recently utilised the Snapchat’s AR lenses feature in conjunction with their ‘Jeans Are Forever’ campaign. The ‘AE x Snapchat AR Jeans Guide’, allowed users to view and try on jeans in 3D by utilising the shoppable jeans lenses. Consumers could try on different fits and cuts as well as being provided with styling advice, and then can click to buy once they are happy.

GOING IT ALONE

Despite their enormous reach, not all brands are choosing to utilise social platforms when utilising AR to connect with consumers.

During the pandemic, jewellery brand Kendra Scott introduced a virtual try-on tool utilising AR to enable consumers to test items remotely. Using their iPhone’s Safari web browser, users could try on earrings to see how they looked in terms of size, in dynamic lighting and their movement.

Moreover, late last year Google also launched its own cosmetics AR filter, with the feature including top make-up brands including L’Oréal, Estée Lauder and Charlotte Tilbury. Utilising a phone’s camera, a variety of shades of makeup were available at the bottom of the feed for the consumer to try on and see how the makeup looked like in real-time. Although makeup AR filters have been utilised heavily in the past on social platforms, Google incorporating this to boost their shopping revenues is a significant sign that they are here to stay.

WHY NOW?

Covid will change the shopping habits and desires of consumers for months, possibly years to come. As we have mentioned previously, brands in the retail world will need to adapt to appeal to their consumers and find new ways to connect with them, both physically and digitally.

The benefits of AR filters are numerous, both for shoppers and brands. In terms of revenue, Shopify recently released new data that interactions with products containing AR content showed a staggering 94% higher conversion rate than products without.

For consumers, AR filters allow them to ‘try before you buy’ in a quick, safe way, with 76% of shoppers in a recent poll commenting this would ‘maybe’ or ‘definitely’ encourage them to purchase more items. AR will also help to alleviate the stresses of the near 30% of all products purchased online being returned, by allowing the consumer to visualise their purchase in a more realistic manner.

This ease in the shopping process will enable for quicker, more accurate and impactful conversion rates between brands and consumers.