Where Technology and Virtual Reality Meet Retail

In the era of online shopping, brick-and-mortar clothing retailers are trying to find ways to appeal to a new generation of shoppers. Realizing that customers appreciate both the mobile and in-store buying experience, brands are now offering customers a shopping journey that combines both their online and store platforms with wearable technology, virtual reality, and mobile apps.

Trying on Clothes in a Virtual Dressing Room

One of the most tedious parts of the shopping journey is trying on the clothes. But now, stores can combat this hassle by implementing virtual dressing rooms.

Kohl’s has collaborated with tech developer Avande to incorporate an interactive, digital fitting room into their store. A mounted screen dually acts as a mirror and digital accessory hub, pairing outfits with different hats, scarves, and jewelry. If a customer is unhappy with the outfit’s fit, they can request an alternate style or size.

Even Amazon, the e-commerce juggernaut, is joining the “virtual mirror trend.” Amazon now has a patent for a “blended reality mirror” that allows customers to virtually try on clothes against different backdrops.


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The Impact of Technology on the Retail Industry

TriMirror is a virtual dressing room available via app, e-commerce websites, and retail stores. This technology allows users to create their own avatar and after the user inputs their size measurements, the avatar can try on clothes in the user’s stead. The clothes available to the avatar are virtual representations of the clothing within that store. Customers can even try on (and pre-order!) next season’s collections that have yet to greet the store shelves. For maximum likeness, the user can take a picture of their face and impose it on their avatar. Beyond the convenience that it offers, it is also fun for the customers, blending the shopping purpose with a video game experience

Revamping Store Window Displays 

Window displays, once home to mannequins, are now being upgraded to virtual reality showcases. TriMirror writes on their website that they not only act as a virtual dressing room, but also as a grabbing window display. Topshop features a virtual reality waterslide in their window display. Customers can don a VR headset to ride in a virtual waterslide, complete with a 360-degree view.

Realizing that customers appreciate both the mobile and in-store buying experience, Nike now offers a shopping journey that combines both their online and store platforms. Called “Speed Shop”, customers reserve shoes online and then visit the Nike store, where a locker with their name awaits. To access the shoes inside, the customer unlocks the locker using their smartphone. If they are happy with how the shoes look and feel in person, they can then buy the shoes via a mobile check-out.

The Impact of Technology on the Retail Industry

Technology now not only helps customers try on clothes easily, but also helps them decide what clothes to buy. Japenese retailer Uniqlo created a wearable technology called UMood, which customers place on their foreheads. After showing customers a series of images and videos, the technology picks up on the customer’s psychological reactions to determine the customer’s mood. UMood then recommends an outfit that fits the customer’s current state of mind. Customers can be categorized as either ‘stressed’, ‘adventurous’, or ‘calm’, and a particular article of clothing will follow suit.

Technology is here to stay, so brick-and-mortar store owners who want to continue to flourish should learn to embrace it.

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