Timberland upgrades the retail experience with virtual fitting rooms.

How to improve the retail experience with virtual fitting rooms

Trying on clothing in-store is often inconvenient and time-consuming. Customers might feel overwhelmed by the many clothing options to circle through or feel awkward about asking a sales attendant for a room.  Maybe they’re simply too lazy. Regardless, many people do not want to go into a fitting room, which takes away from the retail experience.

Why is this bad for your sales?

Well, according to Brian Laney, VP of Sales at Alert Technologies, “Shoppers who use fitting rooms are almost 7 TIMES more likely to buy products compared to those who simply browse the sales floor.” Clearly, trying on clothing is a vital step in the shopping process.

So, how can you get reluctant customers into your fitting rooms?

In this article, Nicole Madsen and Caitlin Clausen discuss how augmented reality can improve the retail experience for your customers.  AR not only enhances convenience but more importantly also creates what we call “promoter shopping” and “social shopping.”

Traditional marketing spends an exorbitant amount of money on extravagant fitting rooms and sales associate training. These methods are expensive. As the digital world takes off, marketers can use augmented reality to drive customers to virtual fitting rooms in a much more price effective way.

With the swipe of a hand, Timberland’s retail experience reaches a new level

Timberland has been on a journey since 2011 to change their marketing strategies, as well as their target market – millennials.

In October of 2014, Timberland used augmented reality to bring the retail experience to a new level. Using Kinect motion sensing technology, they set up a virtual fitting room in Moktow Gallery, a shopping center in Warsaw, Poland. Here, people could try on Timberland’s newest collection without physically trying them on in a dressing room.

Check out the innovative approach to finding a new look:

This virtual fitting room uses the augmented reality paradigm known as the magic mirror. In this paradigm, the user or the objects around the user are augmented on a public screen. The users can then see their augmented selves on the screen.

Here’s the breakdown of each customer’s experience:

  1. The device followed a person’s movements, scanned their face and took a picture of them.
  2. Each person is then matched with a similar model body.
  3. On an 80-inch screen, the person could control their look by changing their outfit including jackets, jumpers, trousers.
  4. The new look was saved and sent to the user via email where they could share it on their Facebook as well.
  5. The picture was also posted in a gallery on Timberland’s fan page.

In addition to the 80-inch screen, a special iPad app was enabled for customers at Timberland in Moktow Gallery. They could take their picture and change their clothes using touch screen. This way, multiple people could be part of the campaign at once.

AR makes the retail experience convenient

So why did this AR campaign work so well for Timberland?

Timberland created value for their customers by developing a fitting room that is efficient and easy to use. The ease of trying on their clothes enticed customers and encouraged them to participate in the AR campaign.

Do you constantly find yourself overwhelmed by sorting through the many clothing options in a retail store? AR can solve this issue, making it more easy, quick, and fun to sort through these options. Being too lazy isn’t an excuse anymore!

AR can transform the retail experience by avoiding traditional fitting rooms.

The bottom line is: by easily swiping through the augmented clothing options, you can create a fun retail experience that is more convenient for your customers.

From customer to promoter

The benefits of using AR mirrors extend far beyond mere convenience. The act of trying on clothes is typically an intimate experience, but the magic mirror AR campaign turns this action into a publicly performed one. This shift in the retail experience allows you to reach new customers.

Customers now become promoters as your fitting room shines at your storefront.  Users can show off your newest clothing line to people passing by. These new promoters model the clothing in real time while shoppers nearby can observe and comment on the outfits they see. Now who doesn’t want to be a model!

Virtual fitting rooms change the retail experience by attracting more customers.

People observe others participating in the AR experience, and they’ll likely feel eager to join in on the fun and try it out for themselves.  All in all, because of these promoters you have a whole new set of potential customers who would have never stepped foot in your store.

Social shopping with your social network

You can use artifacts to promote social shopping among customers and their friends. Artifacts are evidence of a user’s AR retail experience. Social shopping is when a consumer shares an artifact with their social network to elicit feedback. Basically, users showoff their augmented retail experience on social media.

For example, Timberland’s AR campaign gave users the option to post their outfit on their Facebook account. This allows customer’s networks to like, comment, suggest, and recommend different outfits. Affirmation via social media leads to a positive impact on the user’s purchase.

Remember, people do not always trust marketers – they trust their peers.

Social shopping with AR is both beneficial to your consumers and their peers.  When someone posts their virtual outfit on social media, they can get feedback that’ll influence them to buy your item.

This also loops back around when someone suggests an outfit via an artifact. A person browsing their feed might see a recommended outfit on one of their friends and want to try it out themselves. Ultimately, this brings them to your store.

By adding an AR fitting room to your storefront, your virtual outfits have the potential to spread on social media through artifacts.  The best part is, this exposure is created by your very own customers!

Nailing down the AR retail experience

All in all, with the use of AR technology, the way consumers use fitting rooms to try on clothing will transform the retail experience. It will entice consumers because of how convenient and enjoyable it will be to try on clothes.

Virtual fitting rooms will be a game changer.

By turning an ordinarily private act into a public one, more people will be exposed to the novel idea of virtually trying on clothes in a public space. As a result, more consumers will come in and participate in the AR retail experience.

Consumers trying on your store’s latest clothing line using AR will show their peers just how easy and fun it really is. They act as promoters for your brand and will draw in a larger customer base so you don’t have to. After all, consumers are more likely to trust peers like them over marketers.

This technology has the power to change the way traditional and digital marketing operates. Your consumers will be more inclined to purchase from virtual fitting rooms because their retail experience is fun, easy and sociable.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to MarketingSquad.net for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to MarketingSquad.net for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Nicole Madsen and Caitlin Clausen. The authors thank Dr. Joachim Scholz for his guidance while writing the article and Rachel Gasparini and Sonya Bengali for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.
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