Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are taking the world by storm, and many retail stores are dabbling in the growing technology trend. Big-name furniture stores are starting to offer apps that allow users to virtually “place” an item in their home to see how it will look and if it fits in their space. Retail clothing stores are creating virtual dressing room apps that allow consumers to virtually “try on” clothing from the comfort of their own homes. All they need to gain access to this technology is an app and a smartphone camera.
IKEA paved the way for AR retail apps with the release of its IKEA Place app. IKEA Place app lets users swipe through IKEA’s most popular items and, using their iPhone camera, see how those products might look in their space. The Verge notes that there is no search function yet, which leaves users to literally swipe through categorized products until they find exactly what they are looking for. The Verge also did their best in testing the app by placing a virtual couch in the street and a virtual chair in an elevator. Both pieces of furniture scaled to their actual size to provide app users with an idea of if the furniture will fit within their desired space.
Amazon’s new augmented reality mobile app dubbed, AR View, works similarly to the IKEA app in that it allows consumers to use the camera on their iPhone to see how a product will look in their home. TechCrunch gives readers directions on how to use the app, including a link to Amazon’s promotional video of the app in action. GeekWire notes that the Amazon AR View allows products to be viewed from 360 degrees while placed virtually in your desired space.
Both of the apps require iOS 11 operating system and therefore are only available for iPhone users.
The Gap is one of the first retail clothing chains to experiment with and release an AR fitting room app. The DressingRoom by Gap is a smartphone app that allows users to choose a clothing style they are interested in, select a body type similar to their own and “try on” clothing. This allows users to see the way the clothing may look on their own body. Customers can then purchase the clothing they liked directly from the app.
As this technology continues to grow, the extension of AR could create a “try before you buy” policy, which could potentially change the dynamics at the last mile for supply chains. In his article, Karl Siebrecht says that “being able to see how something will fit before buying it will reduce the number of returns and, theoretically, convert more sales while boosting customer satisfaction.” The prospect of happier customers, boosted sales and less inventory coming back into the supply chain may lead many retailers to make AR a reality for their business.