Augmented Reality (AR) in Fashion Industry
Shubham Anil Jain
Department of Textiles (Fashion Technology)
DKTE’S Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner
Augmented Reality (AR) is considered as medium in which information is given to the physical world in registration with the world; however, there are numerous ways in which that information can be added, edited, or modified in the physical world. Augmented Reality is a methodology that is an immersive experience of our physical world, where the environment is augmented by using digitally generated information that can be both visual and auditory. In today’s world, technological advancements like augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D visualization and 3D printing are increasingly applied in a creative way in the various aspects of fashion industry. And they should be as consumers interest such as trying on garments before actually buying them-online or offline. It is predicted that 10 to 20 years from now, fashion and retail industry will probably look completely different from the way it works and looks now. The adoption of Augmented Reality in fashion opens a door for the varieties of possibilities for fashion retail. For customers, it means a smooth user experience and even more some additional benefits.
Ways to Implement Augmented Reality (AR) in Fashion Retail Business
By the two ways, offline store can benefit by implementing augmented reality for fashion:
1. In-store navigation:
Nowadays, it seems possible to employ the AR technology to position the user location. It can integrate AR markers in the store interior and helps the customers with guided store navigation which helps them reach their desired product quickly and easily. It is found that, consumer familiar with the shopping experience expect a smooth process without any problems and frustration. Adding in-store navigation in fashion business, it allows customers to find what they are looking for without wasting time. It was proved by the 2019 consumer retail survey, that 61 percent of customers are finding the way to save their time during shopping.
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Having an AR app, the users have option to use the navigation session, which will display the path to go to the selected product. This way, by bridging the gap between the online and in-store experience, customers get the convenience to find what they want and promote them to return in the future. Nowadays, number of technological platforms are available and retailers uses them to implement in-store navigation for shopping centers and brick and mortar outlets.
2. Interactive display screens:
With this pandemic situation as social distancing becoming a new norm, customers will not prefer to try products, especially garments in real-time. Having digital screens can play a game-changer role in fashion store. With the utilization of display screens and virtual trial rooms, the customers can visualize themselves in front of a mirror/screen and decide what fits on them without physically using the product. This type of appealing shopping experience will encourage users to contact the brand in the future. And there’s no doubt that this unique approach makes people to notice the store.
It is found that, top retail brands like Topshop, Ralph and Lauren, HandM, Zara, Burberry, and others are using this types of screens for clothing to improve customer engagement and satisfaction, to reduce the discomfort of traditional trial rooms, offer a personalized shopping experience, and ultimately aims to increase profit and sales.
Application of Augmented Reality (AR) in Fashion Retail Store
To reach out to technological advanced customers, brands have entered into Augmented Reality technology by creating immersive experiences. Following are some of the applications.
1. Virtual try on:
Due to the technology advancement in fashion industry, the virtual-try-on have gained importance in the last few years in different areas of the fashion industry. Virtual-try-on solutions simulate digitally the behavior of textiles onto the human body. In this manner, they allow a virtual application of cloth items onto digital human body models. This application is particularly designed to determine how precisely and accurately the cloth item will behave on the digital body model. With limited access to in-store experiences, fashion businesses are looking for alternatives to demo products in real-time. With augmented reality, retailers can offer virtual try-on experiences to the customers and attract them towards the store. This will enable customers to get an accurate idea about look, size, and feel of the product.
2. Virtual fitting rooms:
Product fitting is one of the major challenges that are experienced by most of the brands. Augmented reality try on clothes seems to be working well. That’s why, to reduce customer dissatisfaction and boost business operations, stores have started to implement virtual fitting room (VRF) technology. VRF technology lets customers try garments, shoes, etc., on a 3D avatar without wearing the product. This way augmented reality for clothing creates a personalized and engaging experience that benefits both customers and the brand.
GAP was one of the well known and first apparel retailers experimenting with augmented reality clothing. GAP’s Dressing Room App allows users to try out a dress on a virtual mirror. The app lets to enter height, weight, and body shape to generate a digital avatar. This kind of interface utilizes the device camera to scan the user’s body and to the render digital garments on the person. Customers can move their self-made avatar around so they can check themselves out from all angles in their new outfits.
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Many top retail brands like Topshop, Ralph and Lauren, HandM, Zara, Burberry, and others are using augmented reality for clothing to improve customer engagement, reduce the discomfort of traditional trial rooms, deliver a personalized shopping experience, and ultimately increase profit and sales.
3. Virtual tailors:
With this one can get perfectly fitted outfits with the precision of the AR technology. A virtual tailor utilizes different machine learning technologies to provide highly accurate and precise body measurement for customers.
One popular apparel company using this is Fit Freedom. Fit Freedom is a special kind of body measurement application that simplifies the online apparel shopping experience. The application takes the user’s measurements, converts the measurement data across many product lines, and creates custom-fitting garments. Thus, due to this application it is possible to get body measurements quickly and easily by creating a 3D fit model that recommends the shopper’s size across the platform’s available retailers.
4. Virtual make over:
Virtual makeover solutions allow to do the virtual styling of the persons in the area of the face, by changing or adding various aspects such as virtually make-up, haircuts or accessories. By this application the appeal of the human face is changed virtually by adding digitally to a digitized 3D human face, haircuts or glasses and one can get idea of proper attire.
How AR Helped in Enhancing Customer Experience?
1. Spreading awareness:
As we all know that due to this pandemic situation everything has been switched to online mode, so here AR can help in spreading awareness by attracting the attention of the online users and bringing them closer to visit the store and their products. The AR products can improve customer experience by attracting them to try out in store products. Similarly, AR powered kiosks can prove advantageous and can bring products to life with the help of 3D technology.
2. Keeping customers engaged:
Once the customers are aware about the store and the product, the next thing come in the funnels is the task of engaging the new customers to the store. One of the ways to engage customers is to make use of AR in providing fun experiences to them while shopping. To make them feel like they are very important for the store, so that the customer will like the store and will be engaged there.
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3. Conversion of visitor into customer:
As due to the technological advancement, retail stores offers unique AR experiences which has chance to attract more number of visitors to the store. These experiences facilitate the customers in taking the purchase decision very easier, faster and blend engagement, which enhances the sales and ultimately results in the profit of the organization.
4. Enhancing loyalty:
Once we have engaged the customers in the store using AR, customers can be kept interested in the brand and experience something unique in the offerings by the retailers. Customers feel they are important for the brand, so customers can spend more time in-store which enhance the building of loyalty with them. By this the store owners can provide personalized experience to customers and can manage their demand.
Challenges of Augmented Reality in Fashion Industry
1. Improvement in AR App Design and Development Standards
When the software applications are considered standards are very important. It is one of the ways to confirm its compatibility and contribution to the overall development of the technology. But in today’s scenario, this is the thing that is considered as under construction for Augmented Reality. This is due to the technology is too new, and it is still coming to the industry application. Without implementing standards it becomes difficult to identify unifying solutions which makes the overall development of the technology.
2. Chances of Physical Harm
One of the major challenge over here is that, augmented reality are much better documented than ones for Virtual Reality, there is still a significant possibility of harming or affecting the individual and the surroundings due to the nature of the application and lack of attention. The key factor here is that the, Augmented Reality operates in the real world and this helps to add a little bit of digital into it. These elements are diverting the attention away from reality which may cause a potentially dangerous situation. So there is a need to develop such kind of AR interface that will be more useful and yet not distracting anything from the process.
3. Security and Privacy Issues
Privacy and Security concern is also a significant challenges that the AR industry. Due to divergence in augmented reality programming, oversight, and negligence, there is a many chance of getting into trouble without meaning to do so. The major issue is that no actual regulation deputes what is allowed and what is not in the augmented reality environment. This means the technology can be used with malicious intent just as it can be used for entertainment. There is also a lack of awareness about various this kinds of problems. The other part of the problem is the hesitation of the developers to take action for such problems.
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4. Reduce in Quality of Content
While AR technology is developing in a very rapid pace and gradually expanding its scope, the problem with its use cases and the content remains. It is currently leading towards the top of unsolved problems in augmented reality in terms of being threatening to crash an industry. The majority of AR-related content available at App Stores is mostly a showcase of simple tricks and not much else. Its goal is to present some brands as forward-looking and crafty. One of the reasons for this problem is a lack of expertise in the field. There are not enough developers who have a perfect hold on technology and can deliver an accessible and useful experience.
5. Social Issues
While Augmented Reality finds to be a relatively popular concept in the media and frequently mentioned as one of the most exciting emerging technology, its overall public reception is, for the lack of a better word, mild. The reason for that is the quality of the majority of AR content is mostly hit and miss. Out of this it noted that AR applications are nothing more than an unnecessary addition. The other part of the problem is that the public, for the most part, is not aware of the benefits and usages of augmented reality in various fields and aspects.
In current scenario, augmented reality seems to be one of the biggest technology trends, which enhances version of the real physical world using sensory stimuli. The early adopters of AR have developed technologies to improve the customer satisfaction and shopping experience. Due to the pandemic situation this technology has been adopted in very rapid pace. From transforming this technology into apps, and stores, results it as a marketing tool, businesses are beginning to see tangible and concrete results. Using this technology it has increase buyer confidence and 71% of consumers say they would shop more often if businesses use AR. Investment in AR is growing nowadays, approximately $18.8B Worldwide is spending on AR/VR in 2020. In order to reach out to tech-savvy consumers, brands are entering into the online shopping trend with newer, social media friendly, easy-to-use apps on smartphones. Currently, Fashion United has come up with ten recent augmented reality features that have potential to revolutionize shopping habits in the near future. So AR will have huge and bright scope in future and will attract lot of customers.
- IOSR Journal of Business and Management, The Impact of Augmented Reality in Fashion Retail Stores in India: Opportunities and Challenges, by Aathira Menon , Shreya Bhagat, Dr. Shakeel Iqbal.
- Fashion Merchandising: An Augmented Reality Naeha, by A. Sayed The Graduate Center, City University of New York
- Gautam Goswami, Augmented Reality’s Applications And Future In Business, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2020/10/15/augmented-realitys-applications-and-future-in-business/
- Augmented Reality: The Latest Trend In The Fashion Industry by Pooja Bhageria, https://inhaabit.com/augmented-reality-the-latest-trend-in-the-fashion-industry/
- How Is Augmented Reality Transforming the Fashion Industry? By Muchaneta Kapfunde, https://fashnerd.com/2019/02/augmented-reality-transforming-fashion-industry/
- Beginners Guide to Augmented Reality Fashion by Yesha Bhatt, https://www.biztechcs.com/blog/augmented-reality-for-fashion-retailers/
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.