Augmented Reality Redefining the Retail Amid the Pandemic

AR has quickly become an essential technology for retailers. Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation throughout the globe. U.S Retail Index report of 2020 by IBM says that this shift to digital shopping would have needed more than five years were it not for the pandemic.

Augmented Reality applications are on the boom these days. The feature ‘try before you buy’ is available for many different kinds of goods. Enjoy previewing furniture and products of many brands such as IKEA and Home Depot in your home. Virtually try a luxury fashion dress before buying it. 

Sephora Virtual Makeup

Sephora launched a virtual mirror back in 2016. The mirror enabled consumers to try on different shades of eyeshadow and lipstick, all just with a touch of a button. Faces of users appeared in real-time with a lot of color palettes to choose from in the front camera. 

Sunglasses on Facebook

In 2018,  Michael Kors, a world-famous fashion brand, was the first one to try Facebook’s AR ads in its news feed. This new functionality allowed the users to superimpose a pair of Michael Kors’ sunglasses on their faces.  All they had to do was to click the button that says ‘tap to try on’. 

New Feature by Kendra Scott

A retailer has introduced a new AR tool that enables you to try earring styles while sitting on your sofa virtually. When the pandemic made the jewelry brand Kendra Scott’s stores, they came up with this innovative idea. 

Customers do not need any technology upgrade to enjoy this innovative graphical upgrade. An ordinary smartphone and normal web browser are all they have to use. They can observe the earring directly on their ear and check if it makes them look gorgeous or not. Hence, mind making is very convenient for consumers. 

What Sephora and Ulta are Doing

As many stores are opening again, hygiene is and still should be the top priority. Some beauty retailers, such as Sephora and Ulta are discouraging their customers from physical tests of makeup products on their skin. Instead of that, they harness the power of Augmented Reality to help the customer try thousands of beauty products.  


Ulta launched this virtual try-on beauty tool four years ago. A high surge has been recorded in its usage amid the pandemic. More than 50 million shades of the foundation have been digitally swatched digitally with the app post covid.  

Nielsen Global Survey from 2019 concludes that consumers list Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality as one of the top technologies they want to take assistance from in their daily lives. Please note that it happened in the pre corona world. More than half of the participants showed a willingness to use Augmented Reality technology to assess products. Intuitively, this ratio can rise after corona but not fall in any case. 

The recent tweet by Shopify  indicates that the products having an AR view had a 94% more conversion rate compared to those who had not. 

Kohl’s AR Virtual Closet

Retailers’ minds have started working in this direction. Now they are beginning to rethink the digital shopping experience with virtual storefronts. One example is retailer Kohl’s. They collaborated with Snapchat back in May to create Kohl’s AR virtual closet. The customer has access to a complete AR dressing room. There they can mix and match items and make a purchase also. Amazingly, all of this can be done using Snapchat on mobile phones. Not a single time you have to leave the app. Look beneath the words to realize you do not have to step outside the home. 

In light of customers’ needs, Kohl’s AR Virtual Closet keeps updating its items. Starting with top spring styles, they shifted to a variety of active and active and athleisure items, which was indeed a good scheme to facilitate consumers looking for comfortable work-from-home apparel. Back-to-school season items with Levi’s products are part of the newest iteration features. Then comes new selfie lens features. It helps the customer picture themselves in Levi’s Trucker jacket.

Levi is further complementing its AR retail strategy with digital tools like Squad. It is an online watching video app. Friends can shop together with Squad.  Launched back in April, the purpose of Squad was to recreate the experiences people badly miss in lockdown.

Gamified Social Experience

Perhaps this is going to be the next phase of augmented retail. Recently, Burberry has partnered with Snapchat on an in-store AR Game. The concept of storefronts and consumers playing, shopping, and exploring with friends seems to be so prevalent.

“B Surf” is a mobile racing game by Burberry. They also featured AF face filters and characters as prizes. This way fashion and beauty businesses can easily reach out to and earn revenue from younger and new consumers. 

Mark Morris, Senior Vice President of Digital Commerce at Burberry, expresses his opinion in these words.

“We know that they are living in an increasingly gamified environment both online and offline and we are excited that they can join the Burberry community — and explore our new puffer collection — in this way,”

Virtual Goods as Commodities

Mark Morris’s words bring us to this emerging area in augmented reality and digital shopping. Virtual Goods as Commodities.

Digital Skins by Louis Vuitton esports game League of Legends is one of the best examples. Their high number of sales shows the popularity of the trend. They include branded clothing and accessories to dress characters with. 

According to stats, consumer spending on gaming loot boxes and skins can rise as much as fifty billion dollars by 2022. 

The Final Verdict

Virtual try-on experiences are one of the most excellent applications of Augmented Reality. We can expect a high rise in saleable virtual goods with a new type of augmented retail.It, no doubt, is the new normal. How we understood and interacted with the world before the pandemic no longer applies in this modern post covid world. 

In many ways, the pandemic has been the catalyst for digital transformation. Augmented reality has so much to add to the industry, and retailers must realize its power before it is too late. 

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