Like many other industries that have had to adapt to the recent transformations in the world and society, fashion, the 4th biggest sector of the economy, is experiencing drastic changes, sped up by advancements in technology and multiple crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and global warming. The competition within the industry is heating up, while consumer shopping habits have been altered by the experience of the lockdown and the subsequent acceleration of e-commerce penetration.
Consequently, in the post-COVID era fashion brands and retailers need to reinvent the shopping experience they provide. With the global economic recession, consumers want to spend their money wisely. They are pickier and more careful with their choices, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in returns in e-commerce as customers are unable to try clothes before they actually buy them. It’s a huge problem as it makes each returned item less profitable and increases the pollution rate because of shipping back and forth. At the same time, with the COVID restrictions lifted, customers are willingly returning to offline stores, but now they are used to the quick and personalized shopping experience delivered by online retail.
What’s more, there’s the possible metaverse mass adoption looming on the horizon. In the virtual world people will also need clothes, and it can be a chance for brands and retailers to enhance their marketing strategies and even start selling digital apparel. At the moment, though, there are very few brands exploring this field, because at this point the majority of fashion companies don’t see it as something urgent and promising in which to invest. However, a complete disregard of virtual clothing development today may lead to missed opportunities in the future. To solve these and many other issues, the fashion industry is turning to augmented reality.
How Businesses Can Benefit from AR Clothing Try-on
During the pandemic, augmented reality brought a sense of relief to fashion brands, enabling them to showcase their products online in a more familiar way for the consumers used to trying clothes on in real life. Being included in the customer journey, AR encourages them to purchase more frequently and reduces the flood of returns. Shopify research shows that the use of AR can cut returns by 40% and boost conversion by 97%. No wonder, the fashion business has become less conservative and more eager to embrace augmented reality.
Another reason for brands and retailers to turn to AR clothing try-on solutions is that they are looking for new ways to engage the next generation of consumers. Gen Z shoppers are accustomed to using digital tools for almost everything and enjoy playing with technology. To reach these customers and hold their interest, sellers should utilize AR for marketing and e-commerce in order to create new experiences, because as confirmed by a Sitecore research, 83% of Gen Z customers consider online shopping to be an experience, not a transaction.
Then there’s also the problem of sustainability. Many modern consumers ― including the vast majority of Gen Z ― care about the environment, while fashion is one of the key catalysts of the environmental crisis with its 11.3 million tons of textile waste per year in addition to pollution from shipping and other sins being committed by the industry. Implementation of clothing try-on technology helps create the sustainable fashion industry of our dreams through elimination of unnecessary purchases and returns. At some point it will probably even be able to reduce the need to buy physical clothing.
On top of that, AR clothing try-on solutions are an easy opportunity for brands to experiment with virtual apparel. Consumers are not yet ready to buy digital pieces of clothing to substitute material ones, but the business can embrace the technology and use it in the future to create fashion for the Metaverse, while enjoying its benefits as a tool to increase sales of the physical products in the present.
What ZERO10 Brings to the Table
As a result of increased demand, AR clothing try-on technologies are rapidly developing, and the market is becoming more competitive. One of these technologies belongs to ZERO10, an AR platform for fashion brands, e-commerce and physical retailers. With their own proprietary technology and an in-house 3-D studio, the startup’s developers can continuously polish it and control the level of execution.
Being aware of the fierce competition, the company’s team aspires to create the best AR clothing try-on experience on the market by focusing on bringing it as close to the real life experience as possible through their main features, real-time try-on and photo try-on that can be accessed inside an app through a smartphone camera. Powered by the recent innovations in computer vision and computer graphics, they are developing three core technologies that allow clothing to look the most realistic in the following ways:
- 3-D Body Tracking ― to make clothes fit more realistically and suit human bodies in all of their diversity;
- Clothes Simulation ― to allow clothes to closely resemble the physical items, emphasizing their quality and details, including distinguishing characteristic of various textiles;
- Body Segmentation ― to separate users from their environment and ensure pose estimation which predicts the location of a person, so that clothes can move with the body the same way as physical garments do.
Based on their key features, the startup offers a range of innovative tech solutions for any fashion business interested in a more cutting-edge way to showcase their products in their online stores. One of them is integration into the ZERO10 app for brands who don’t want to spend a lot of resources on their own digital fashion production and SDK implementation. Alongside providing an AR clothing try-on experience for customers, the startup also develops and creates digital garments as a part of the full-cycle process. All the items can be linked with the partner’s online store to increase conversion to purchase.
The virtual try-on technology could also be integrated into brands’ iOS app or web, with another solution, SDK, offering customers an immersive experience by allowing them to interact with products in real time before buying them. The integration of the software development toolkit will increase conversion rates, adds to baskets, unique views, time on page, and user engagement.
As store technologies are the top-three areas in which fashion executives plan to make digital investments between now and 2025, AR solutions for offline retail can be used as a part of brick-and-mortar stores which won’t disappear despite the growing demand for digital experiences. The easiest way to make a retail space AR enabled is by integrating QR codes that could be scanned with the phone to experience real-time try-on through the app.
To create novel opportunities to attract users to offline stores, ZERO10 plans to release a new product ― an AR pop-up store that is aimed at becoming an alternative to the physical store. It doesn’t require anything that a traditional store contains but the OLED screen to create a new consumer shopping experience and reduce the cost of servicing retail outlets for businesses. A setup providing a big-screen AR experience would go beyond a simple try-on and enable a new kind of pop-up store, as well as the extension of in-store sales capabilities. So, it seems that the future of fashion is approaching us pretty fast, as the high-quality AR try-on experience is to get a new boost soon.