Looking — and Buying — Without Touching
At first glance, a story about John Lewis introducing virtual mirrors devised by Cisco so customers don’t have to strip off to see how a new outfit looks seemed like new news. But a quick Google search revealed others have been following a similar path since 2007.
John Lewis believes customers trying multiple fashion lines along with accessories will facilitate cross-selling and mutual retailer and customer satisfaction.
When Adidas introduced similar technology to their Paris store in 2007, Louis Ramirez pointed out a fallacy on gizmodo.com. "I think the concept is cool," he wrote, "but I’d be more concerned over the fit than how they look."
Cisco’s mirror uses sensors to measure customers and then find suitable outfits. Their spokesman told Retail Gazette, "The technology takes the drudgery out of searching for items and exposes people to a wider range of clothing. It will be more efficient and provide the retailer with the chance to cross-sell brands and accessories, while at the same time improving levels of service."
Ways to incorporate social media are also being studied so customers can share their images with friends once privacy issues are resolved.
Meanwhile, webcams are the mirror of choice for glasses. La Boutique Peugeot uses customers’ webcams like a mirror before purchasing in-store. Ray-Ban boasts its virtual mirror is "the definitive augmented reality experience, which permits you to virtually try-on the latest Ray-Ban styles." Sunglass Hut uses digital photo booths in some stores so customers can immediately send pictures to friends or social networking sites for other opinions on their choice. UK-based glasses2you, promises a wider range of glasses at a lower price than specialist opticians.
Various approaches to virtually applying cosmetics have also been tested by the likes of Walmart, Carrefour and Superdrug amongst others. IBM and Israel’s Ezface use an "augmented reality system" to combine video images with virtual/digital elements on the same screen, according to singularityhub.com, but the complexities of accommodating individual skin tones, lighting, hair color, etc. may explain why neither kiosks or sales have yet made headlines.
- John Lewis launches virtual mirrors in stores – International Supermarket News
- John Lewis to trial virtual mirror in stores – Retail Gazette
- Electronic mirrors sell lipstick and a makeover – The Wall Street Journal
- IBM’s virtual mirror brings augmented reality to makeup counters – Singularity Hub
- Adidas opens first store with virtual shopping mirrors – Gizmodo
- La Boutique Peugeot
Discussion Questions: How appealing will virtual mirrors be for customers trying on clothes? Are virtual mirrors rendered impractical by the inability to test the way products fit and feel?