Online shopping has been our only form of retail therapy in 2020. For some shoppers, it’s been a learning curve as it’s their first time shopping online. They aren’t used to shipping delays and the freedom to try on multiple styles before making a decision. Five months into this new normal and online shopping has increased by 32% in the pandemic. For fashion, there are many pros to buying virtually: you get to avoid poor fitting room lighting and the pressure to purchase right then and there.
As brick-and-mortar stores start to open up again, their strategy has completely altered in the age of COVID-19. They are tasked to recreate in-store experiences while avoiding interaction. Their plan? Virtual “try on” while in-store. The model will work for all items: clothing, shoes, cosmetics, eyeglasses and more. Online marketplace Etsy’s new augmented reality feature shows customers how paintings, photographs and other home decor could work on their walls. All customers need to do is snap a photo of their walls, line up the item to where they want it and their smartphones will show exactly how this will look in a matter of seconds.
adidas and Tommy Hilfiger plan to launch a virtual fitting room online and in-store where shoppers can take a picture of themselves and drag pants, tops or coats onto the photos to see how products will fit. Consumers are relatively excited for more accurate feedback prior to purchasing. Retailers are equally as antsy to get the ball rolling as they predict that if consumers physically see themselves in the item, they are more likely to buy and less likely to make a return.
It’s an exciting time but critics fear that advanced technology could give away too much personal and biometric information, supplying valuable real-time insights into customers’ wants and lifestyles. “You think they’re taking your image and measuring your size, but the data being collected could be used for many different purposes. Once measured, once stored, it doesn’t easily fade away,” said Patrick Van Ecke, co-chair of the Global Data Protection department at a law firm. He warns that even a 30-second video session could give away geolocation tags. If you combine that with shopping and browsing histories, retailers would have access to a shopper’s lifestyle and habits.
We like the idea of virtual fitting rooms. It’s convenient, contactless and seems fairly accurate. However, seeing how the item looks on your body in different colors is cool but it doesn’t tell you how it fits. Plus, companies and the government already have too much personal information on us, why give them more? The verdict is still out on what they will do with this stored information so we figure we’ll wait to see how these virtual fitting rooms play out before we make up our mind.