Will AR change how people buy products from eyeglasses to wedding rings?

Discussion
Source: Warby Parker
Feb 07, 2019
Matthew Stern

People keep a pair of eyeglasses for a long time — and hopefully keep their wedding rings for even longer. So, the try-on process for one of these products is the first step toward a long-term investment. In both these spaces, retailers recently announced they are using augmented reality (AR) to make the experience more convenient for customers.

Helzberg Diamonds has launched its Helzberg Virtual Ring Experience, which allows couples looking for the right wedding ring to virtually try on more than 100 varieties of product while visiting a store. The tech enables them to see what the rings would look like on their hands from multiple angles, according to a press release. A video demonstration of the Ring Experience shows a customer with her hand underneath a tablet built into a table that overlays a virtual ring onto an on-screen image of her hand. The customer is being guided through the try-on and selection process by an associate.

The Helzberg AR pilot is on-trend with other moves in the wedding space geared toward streamlining the entire, sometimes arduous and intimidating, process of wedding planning. For instance, e-commerce wedding registry Zola recently opened a New York City pop-up featuring a range of tech-enhanced wedding planning services and solutions such as invitation creation resources and customized 3-D cake topper printing.

In the eyewear space, Warby Parker recently upgraded its iPhone app to let customers superimpose the product onto their face in a live 3-D AR preview. This improves upon the brand’s earlier iteration of the app, which would offer recommendations on glasses to purchase based on facial recognition data.

Warby Parker co-founders and co-CEOs Dave Gilboa Neil Blumenthal told Wired that they have been waiting since they started the company for AR technology to catch up with their needs so they could offer the tool to their customers.

Mr. Blumenthal said they wanted a “true to life” feature before making use of AR. “Until we were able to have a one-to-one reference and have our glasses be true to scale and fit properly on somebody’s face, none of those tools were functional.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect AR-based try-on technology to become a bigger part of the consumer purchasing process? In which product categories do you think the technology shows the most promise?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"It's easier to trust a brand in an augmented reality when you already trust them in your current reality."
"I don’t see AR technology necessarily replacing the need to physically try on clothes, accessories, etc. but it does help filter options."
"The interest in AR is much higher among younger consumers, as 59 percent of Gen Z and Millennial consumers will choose a store that offers AR over one that doesn’t."

Join the Discussion!

14 Comments on "Will AR change how people buy products from eyeglasses to wedding rings?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ray Riley
BrainTrust

This tech is no gimmick and has huge implications for extending the primary role of a store (to try out/on) to virtually anywhere. The contextual representation of accessories and jewelry makes so much sense.

Joanna Rutter
Guest
5 months 16 days ago

I think home try-on is the most logical and immediate AR use case in retail, and I don’t think apparel is where it works best. My favorite AR applications are Sephora’s (just used it last week!) and Warby Parker’s, and know this type of experience also works well for furniture e-commerce brands like Wayfair. Sephora and Warby Parker benefit from the normalization of face filters used in Snapchat and Instagram — it’s not a huge leap to ask a consumer to smile for the camera — and all three of these brands have a few important things in common: a higher price point, good customer service, and an already-strong physical try-on experience and/or good return policies. It’s easier to trust a brand in an augmented reality when you already trust them in your current reality.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

The technology is getting really accurate and so, yes, it will play an increasingly larger role in the buyer journey. The Warby Parker application piggybacks on Apple’s already advanced facial recognition technology so it’s leveraging multiple tools to provide a far more accurate representation of how the frames will look. Very cool. The categories you mention are solid examples as is furniture and home improvement (think of the paint color apps that exist). It’s here and the train has left the station!

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

As customization continues to become more and more important, AR will play a critical role in helping retailers and shoppers visualize and (recommend!) the unique preferences of each shopper. I only see the role of AR expanding as more consumers seek to express their own style in virtually (pardon the pun) every category.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

AR provides a better visual reference for the consumer when virtually trying on rings, glasses and other products. While shoppers will not likely buy direct from the visual image without trying on the actual product, AR will help narrow the options the shopper is interested in and will move the sale along more quickly and close the sale more often. Categories that are infrequent purchases and affect the shopper’s look will be the ones where AR will provide the most value — rings and other jewelry, glasses, and apparel.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I think both of these examples show how technology can be deployed in a useful way. However, I don’t think this means that store visits are redundant. I see AR as helping consumers to filter and narrow down choices without wasting time visiting shops. Once they have done that many will likely then visit the store to make a final choice and see the product they have chosen.

Rick Moss
Staff

I downloaded Warby Parker’s mobile app and gave it a go. See the results here… They clearly took pains to perfect the process before rolling it out – very impressive. As you browse frames, you simply click on a product and then swipe down to activate your phone camera and see the glasses on your face. Practically idiot proof. Only issue: I had to of course remove my reading glasses to do the try-on, and without them, I couldn’t see very clearly. Bit of a Catch-22.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

For visual products — apparel, furniture, jewelry, cosmetics, etc. — AR is a great way for consumers to visually experience products before they buy. As AR becomes more pervasively available, more customers will expect it. According to our consumer study, 32 percent of consumers are likely to shop at a store offering an augmented reality (AR) experience instead of a retailer that doesn’t have this capability.

The interest in AR is much higher among younger consumers, as 59 percent of Gen Z and Millennial consumers will choose a store that offers AR over one that doesn’t.

For eye glasses, AR is a perfect fit, as if you try on glasses at the store it is difficult to see the glasses on your face without your prescription glasses.

Retailers’ AR capabilities are lagging behind customer interests, as only 9 percent of retailers offer AR and that number will grow to 38 percent within three years. I expect to see AR expand significantly in the next three years and beyond.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

As many above have said, I don’t see AR technology necessarily replacing the need to physically try on clothes, accessories, etc. but it does help filter options. And not just filter within a brand’s own assortment, but the fact that a brand (like WP) has AR app technology will be enough to have a consumer START their shopping journey with them. So AR functionality actually wins the acquisition/attention war at the brand-to-brand level and the rest is up to the quality of the tech and style of the products to close the deal.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Today it’s cool, new, novel and fun. Tomorrow (as in the near future), this will be the norm. The price to deliver this technology will come down to where most retailers will want to take advantage of it. Everything from virtually trying on clothes, glasses, makeup, hairstyles and more will be a fit for AR technology.

Cate Trotter
BrainTrust

This is where tech can really make an impact. Although Warby Parker has since moved into successfully opening physical stores, at its core it’s an ecommerce business. Finding ways to make it easier for customers to buy via digital channels is a no-brainer for it. The AR tool is about making it difficult for customers not to buy, by giving them the best possible idea of what the product will look like, and how it will suit them. It gives them confidence to press the button and buy.

With expensive purchases like engagement and wedding rings a lot of customers will still probably prefer to go into a store and physically see and handle the product, but AR means they can do some effective research beforehand into styles they like/don’t like. This is how customers shop today — they research online, they find out about products and services in advance, they’re empowered, they’re knowledgable. AR can be a real enabler of that journey if properly implemented.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

AR will work well where size is not an issue. The apps mentioned allow people to try on without having to leave home or buy and try, then return. AR will continue to get better, and retailers will find additional ways to use it.

Bill Friend
Guest

There is no doubt that AR-based tech is going to have an increasing impact on consumer engagement and purchasing habits. This will be especially true in categories like jewelry, eyewear and even some apparel categories. The challenge is to predict the pace or timing of broad adoption. Younger generations are clearly early adopters so matching categories to their preference would make sense to accelerate adoption. Once more mainstream, this technology will have the ability to influence categories people haven’t even thought of yet.

Alex Levashov
Guest

I think definitely AR may help to improve the online shopping experience for many product categories. What is interesting, however, is how many customers will find that AR experience is better from a Real Reality (RR) experience and will send the product back.

It is too tempting for retailers to make AR better than RR.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"It's easier to trust a brand in an augmented reality when you already trust them in your current reality."
"I don’t see AR technology necessarily replacing the need to physically try on clothes, accessories, etc. but it does help filter options."
"The interest in AR is much higher among younger consumers, as 59 percent of Gen Z and Millennial consumers will choose a store that offers AR over one that doesn’t."

Take Our Instant Poll

Which category will be most profoundly affected by the expansion of AR tech?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...