As more retail stores temporarily close due to the Covid-19 pandemic, brands must navigate how best to represent themselves to mobile and online shoppers. Many are turning to AR, which has shown to increase engagement and conversion and is becoming both more accessible to brands and more familiar to consumers.

AR most commonly uses a smartphone camera to overlay digital content into the physical world, offering both escape and practicality. It’s also a globally relevant tool.

AR is becoming commonplace in part because tech platforms are integrating tools that place AR within reach. Shopify made it easier for any brand to add AR content to their website, and Apple introduced an iPad Pro with a camera that makes it easier to place AR content in the real world. In the past year, Pinterest and YouTube have both added AR makeup try-ons, and Facebook and Instagram have begun rolling out AR-enabled ads and AR-enabled posts.

Snapchat’s selfie filters, which were introduced in 2015, ignited the idea of AR being an everyday pastime. “People are realising that there’s been this consumer shift around the camera. It’s where people are spending more and more time.

It’s no mystery why the first major branded uses of AR were in cosmetics. Map the face, throw different lipstick on – simple and brilliant. Why go to the glaring and diseptic cosmetics counter anymore? But selfies aren’t just for the face, augmenting the body will become a major part of our lives and will be as addictive as Snap face lenses today.

Here are some of the brands who were way ahead in this race :

American Apparel — color-changing app

A clothing retailer is known for a variety of colors in their product collection. Apparently, to make the process of color-choosing easier, they created the in-store Augmented Reality app that allows customers to view a clothing item in different colors and read customers reviews. The idea is simple and functional.

Converse — new kind of e-commerce

The famous brand developed iPhone augmented reality app that allows users to try on trainers virtually, by pointing a phone at their legs. Besides, customers can make orders directly through the app, without leaving home. The idea is great for customers who do not like physical shopping.

Uniqlo — magic mirrors

For brick-and-mortar fashion retailers, the idea is not new. The Japanese brand installed the first Magic Mirror back in 2012. Trying on clothing in front of the Magic Mirror prompted a touchscreen that allowed the customer to select other colors in the range which could be tried on.  Other fashion brands who use the technology are Rebecca Minkoff, Neiman Marcus, etc.

Topshop — the new way to try on clothes

The new way to try on clothes is without actually wearing them. The British brand adopted the technology in 2011. Since then, many fashion retail brands have been using the technology, but the idea is the same — trying on clothes made easier, user experience moves to the new level.

De Beers, Boucheron, Tissot and Garrad — AR for luxury brands

Luxury brands have always been one of the first to adopt new technologies. For example, De Beers and Boucheron allow customers to try on jewelry from home through a simple webcam. Tissot used a similar approach but in-store. And even Garrad, the famous British jewelry company, used the Royal Wedding as an opportunity to let people try on a virtual tiara and feel like Kate Middleton.

Sephora — a virtual artists

Sephora created an app that allows product try-on (lip shades, eyeshadows, false lashes) from your smartphone. In the eight weeks after launch, the app had 1.6 million visits and 45 million “try-ons”.

– Rutuja Shinde


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