Will AR and VR Shape the Future of Fashion eCommerce?

As major brands in fashion eCommerce take the plunge into the metaverse, many are wondering what role AR and VR will play in the near future

The digitization of the world of fashion has become quite an alluring concept in recent years. Virtual fitting rooms, digitalizing the design process, and VR fashion shows are only a few notable innovations that have pushed the fashion industry into a new digital frontier. With major fashion brands like Nike, Adidas, and Gap all diving headfirst into virtual experiences, many are wondering what role both augmented and virtual reality will play in the future of fashion eCommerce?  

The Difference Between AR and VR

Augmented reality and virtual reality are two vastly different technologies with varying impacts on fashion eCommerce:

  • Augmented reality is a digitally enhanced version of the real world achieved through the lens of a camera. It is an interactive experience that combines the tangibility of the real world with the virtual elements of the digital world, enabling brands to offer services like virtual fitting rooms to shoppers. This tech has become very popular with apparel brands due to its low costs and easy integration with mobile apps. Additionally, AR engagement rates have been relatively high with shoppers.
  • Virtual reality takes digitalization to a whole new level, as the entirety of the experience takes place within a computer-generated simulation. Brands can simulate any possible scenario for the shopper in VR, which is why brands like Tommy Hilfiger use VR to enable shoppers to “attend” their Autumn/Winter fashion show in their brick-and-mortar stores. The drawback of this tech is that it requires complex and expensive equipment and may serve as more of a distraction than a path to conversion for shoppers.   

While each technology has its unique use case, augmented reality has much greater utility within today’s world of fashion.

Are Shoppers Interested in Digital Experiences?

Shopper research shows that attitudes towards VR / AR in fashion and eCommerce have gradually improved in recent years. What was once considered an entirely unnecessary and distracting technology by brands and shoppers alike has worked its way into some of the more integral parts of the shopper journey (such as sizing and product previews) with favorable results.

While attitudes have improved, there are still significant hindrances to the mass adoption of this technology. Most notable of these hindrances are the high cost and bulky nature of the equipment needed for VR, as well as the technological and privacy-related issues of AR.

As we progress through this digital revolution, however, the real question many are not asking is whether these technologies address the issues eCommerce shoppers are facing today.

What Do Online Shoppers Want From Fashion eCommerce?

There seems to be somewhat of a disconnect between what AR/VR technology currently offers to shoppers and what shoppers currently want from their eCommerce experience. A recent study conducted by Chain Store Age revealed that shoppers prioritize these factors when it comes to eCommerce:

An eCommerce shopper joyfully opening a package bought through fashion eCommerce

  • Convenience when purchasing and returning: Shoppers expect brands to streamline purchase paths and make returns as convenient as possible.
  • Improved personalization: We’ve said it before, personalization drives purchases. Shoppers want to connect with brands on a personal level and expect relevant and unique shopping experiences tailored to their unique tastes and preferences.
  • Seamless cross-channel experiences: There has been a noticeable influx of mobile shoppers in recent years, many of which use multiple platforms to discover new brands and products. As such, these shoppers expect brands to offer seamless shopping experiences across all devices.

While AR/VR are amazing breakthrough technologies that have added some futuristic flair to the fashion industry, they do not necessarily address the core needs of eCommerce shoppers at this time.

Despite the Drawbacks, AR and VR are Poised to Make a Significant Splash

WAIR CEO Greg Moore recently attended the 2022 National Retail Federation conference and what he found is that brands across all industries view AR and VR as key solutions for the issues shoppers currently face. While their immediate use case isn’t terribly strong, this technology is poised to make a significant splash in all areas of eCommerce in the coming years.

On a more immediate note, there are existing variants of this technology that address the issues shoppers are currently facing. WAIR, for example, addresses the sizing problems of fashion eCommerce without the drawbacks associated with existing AR and VR solutions. Rather than relying on clunky equipment or requiring shoppers to take photos of themselves, WAIR uses its exclusive database of over 3 million body scans as the foundation of our sizing solution. This information enables WAIR to greatly simplify the sizing process while providing online shoppers with the accuracy and personalization of an in-person fitting room.  

Despite our unique approach to body scan technology, we recognize the potential that AR and VR hold for our industry, which is why WAIR plans to incorporate a 3D “try on” feature in the future to better help eCommerce shoppers understand sizing and fit.   

Innovation Must Address the Necessities of Today

There is no doubt that technology has earned its rightful place within the fashion industry, but to avoid innovating for the sake of innovating, brands can benefit from a more deliberate approach. We must not forget the fundamental reasons why technology was implemented into the world of fashion eCommerce; to streamline and enhance the shopper experience tangibly. Digital experiences may be the future of fashion, but they cannot distract from the necessities of the present.

Are you ready to unlock the true potential of your brand with WAIR? Schedule a demo here, and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook for all your fashion content needs!

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