Imagine this: you walk into your favorite store, point your phone’s camera toward the display window, and see a real-life model posing and speaking, instead of a motionless mannequin. Or, you point your phone’s camera at a delivery package and see a model posing on top of your box.
This sounds like futuristic fiction, but it’s exactly what Spanish retailer Zara revealed on April 12.
Yesterday, Zara rolled out an augmented reality (AR) campaign on their mobile app, ZaraAR to coincide with the release of their new collection. It is available in 120 Zara stores globally for two weeks. They’re not alone either. AR is picking up speed; according to Digital Bridge, 74% of consumers expect retailers to offer some type of AR experience.
Intrigued? Us too. Check out how Zara is using AR to enhance the customer shopping experience.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) is using technology to overlay digital content on an image viewed through a device. In other words, augmented reality brings static images to life right before your eyes.
For example, on your desk you see a computer, mouse, keyboard, phone, and cup of coffee. With AR, you could see all those items plus a large, fluffy cat sitting on your desk. Me-wow.
Augmented reality is different than virtual reality. Virtual reality transports the user to a different place, immersing them in a new environment. Augmented reality, on the other hand, enhances the existing world around the user. (Still confused? We dive deeper into the differences between AR and VR here).
Zara and Augmented Reality
The ZaraAR app lets users see models in three different places: in store windows, on store podiums, and on delivery boxes. Placing simulated human models at consumer touchpoints enhances the brand experience and drives excitement about Zara’s new collection.
Seeing pieces of the collection on a model, instead of a hanger, helps consumers visualize wearing and moving in the clothing. Not only do the AR models pose, but they also walk and speak, presenting consumers a truly unforgettable shopping experience.
Of course, Zara is hoping to achieve more than just wow-ing customers. The collection can also be purchased off the model’s “backs” by selecting “Shop the Look” within the app.
Check Out the ZaraAR App for Yourself
Step 1: Download the ZaraAR app from the iPhone or Google Play Store.
Step 2: Open the app, enable camera access, and the camera will automatically open
Step 3: Point the camera toward a Zara shop window, in-store podium, or delivery box, and see a model come to life wearing Zara’s new collection.
Step 4: Like what you see? Purchase the clothing the model is wearing right within the app using the “Shop the Look” button
Step 5: Take screenshots to share on social media
Is AR Going Mainstream?
Zara isn’t the first to use AR to promote and sell their products. Recall the Pokemon GO craze from a couple years ago that sent the masses wandering streets and shopping centers to catch AR Pokemon “in real life”. Pokemon Go brought a lot of attention to the capabilities of AR, and a lot of smart retailers cashed in on the craze by offering Pokemon players special incentives or dropping lures to draw in crowds.
Though not yet mainstream, many retailers are trying their hand at AR. Lacoste created an app that lets customers virtually try on shoes. Cosmetics brand Charlotte Tilbury allows customers to look into a mirror and see their face transform to ten of the brand’s iconic looks. Timberland uses AR to help customers visualize apparel fit without trying it on. The “magic mirror” simulates a person with a similar body shape as the customer, and allows the customer to swap out various pieces of clothing to see how they would fit. This list is far from comprehensive, and we look forward to seeing more creative use cases for this innovative technology.
Will You Try It?
Is augmented reality the future for retailers? We’ll have to wait and see how AR takes off in the retail space, and whether it merely excites customers or drives real sales.
If you’re near one of the 120 Zara stores with the feature, go try the app for yourself! We’d love to hear your thoughts on augmented reality in the comments.