A retailer’s guide to virtual fitting rooms online and in-store
Whether they are shopping online or in-store, customers want to know that the item they’re looking to purchase will fit them.
At a physical shop, this is easy: customers can use a fitting room. The only problem? Research shows that shoppers don’t actually like trying on clothes in-store. Just 7% of customers enjoy the fitting room experience. And one-third of customers prefer to try on products that caught their eye at home.
At the same time, shoppers who try on clothes in-store end up purchasing three or more items compared to those who skip the fitting room.
Evidently, being able to try on items before buying them is crucial for sales conversions. A recent survey that looked at why consumers don’t like shopping online supports this. The three leading reasons given were: 1) not being able to see products in person, 2) not being able to try out things before buying them, and 3) not being able to touch products.
The good news is that a virtual fitting room can help both online and brick-and-mortar stores make the shopping experience easier.
What is a virtual fitting room?
A virtual fitting room is a digital alternative to an in-store fitting room. It allows customers to virtually try on products and evaluate how they will look on their bodies without having to physically put the items on.
Most virtual try-on solutions today use augmented reality (AR). They work by superimposing a 3D version of a product onto a live video feed of a shopper. Products you can try on via a virtual fitting room include:
Due to advances in body tracking technology, clothing pieces are also becoming more popular in virtual fitting room experiences.
Because the vast majority of virtual fitting room solutions track a customer’s body movements, the experience is usually very realistic. The customer can therefore get a pretty accurate idea of how the item they’re considering buying looks and fits.
Types of virtual fitting rooms
There are two types of virtual fitting rooms: in-store and online.
In-store, brands can use magic mirrors—also known as digital or smart mirrors—as a virtual fitting room.
Magic mirrors are reflective screens that display a customer’s image when they stand in front of it. They also display other items, like clothing pieces or accessories, over the customer’s image to make it look as if the customer is wearing them.
Depending on the magic mirror, shoppers might also be able to check pricing, colour variations, stock availability, and additional information about the product, like design details.
A good example of a brand that has found success with magic mirrors is Speedo. In 2019, we partnered with the leading swimwear brand to create a magic mirror experience that made shopping for swimming goggles in-store easier.
Rather than having to put on multiple pairs to find the style they liked—a time-consuming and annoying process—customers at Speedo stores could use the magic mirror to quickly visualise themselves in different swimming goggle pairs.
The magic mirror also reduced workload for Speedo employees as they no longer had to replace products in packaging after each customer.
Magic mirrors are especially popular with makeup brands. For instance, they’re a permanent fixture at a number of Charlotte Tilbury stores where customers can choose from 10 different makeup looks to see how they’d look with a certain lipstick or foundation on.
The makeup is mapped to each person’s facial features, so shoppers can turn their heads to see how it looks from different angles or even close one of their eyes to get a better sense of how the eyeshadow looks.
Although less popular, magic mirrors can also superimpose clothing onto customers. All the way back in 2011, John Lewis introduced magic mirrors into its department stores that let shoppers try on multiple clothing items at once.
Since then, other brands, including Superdry, have experimented with magic mirror technology.
When it comes to online fitting rooms, most brands embed AR experiences onto their product pages.
For example, when shopping for a pair of frames on Warby Parker’s app, customers can virtually try them on before adding them to their basket. The glasses are positioned accurately and shoppers can move their heads from one side to the next.
If the glasses the customer is trying on come in different colours, they can tap to see them too.
The luxury fashion house FERONA, which we recently partnered with, takes a slightly different approach. Customers visiting the FERONA website, launching on 16th September, will be able to visualise bespoke pieces in 3D and then see them in their own space to get a better idea of what the item looks like. The experience will be accessed via desktop or a mobile device.
Some brands may go even further and combine AR experiences with digital recreations of their store. That way, online customers can still get the best bits of the physical store experience without having to leave their homes.
The company Emperia specialises in these types of experiences. It creates virtual, interactive spaces that match a brand’s physical store. Brands can even place clothes in these virtual shops in the exact same spots as they appear in their actual store.
The virtual clothing store can be used as a standalone website or integrated into a company’s online storefront or the metaverse.
Through Snapchat’s Shoppable Lenses, users can try on products from brands like Gucci and Ulta Beauty without having to leave the app. Since January 2021, over 250 million people have interacted with Shoppable Lenses more than 5 billion times.
However, Shoppable Lenses could only be accessed through a brand’s lens page or a user’s lens tray. In April 2022, Snapchat introduced a new feature (“Dress Up”) that lets users swipe through all the brands that offer AR try-on in one location.
Benefits of a virtual fitting room
Virtual fitting rooms offer many benefits for retailers online and in-store.
In-store virtual fitting room benefits
- No need for a changing room. For customers, having to try on items in a physical changing room is inconvenient and time-consuming, especially if it’s a busy day and there are queues. Shoppers are also usually restricted to a specific number of items, which means that they might prefer to leave some of the items they were interested in behind. On the other hand, with a virtual fitting room, shoppers can try on as many items they want instantaneously.
- Fewer returns. If a customer doesn’t want to/can’t use a physical changing room, they may buy an item they’re interested in without first trying it on. Far from a good thing, this can lead to more returns. A virtual fitting room solves this problem.
- Trying on stock that’s not available. Brick-and-mortar shops may not always have every single item in stock. Some pieces may be sold out in that particular location. Other items might only be available online. With virtual fitting rooms, this doesn’t matter. As long as a brand has a 3D model of a product, customers can try it on.
- Increased conversions. In a physical changing room, shoppers will only try on the pieces they brought in with them. In a virtual fitting room, there’s room for up-selling and cross-selling. Depending on how a magic mirror is configured, brands may be able to show customers items in other colours or sizes, or complementary products.
Online virtual fitting room benefits
- Faster consumer decisions. One of the worst things about shopping online is that customers can’t try on items. While some people might make spontaneous purchases, others will spend a few days making up their minds. With a virtual fitting room, customers can make decisions faster.
- Increased conversions. A customer might really like an item online. However, if they’re not sure how it will look on them or fit them, they may decide against buying it. Thanks to virtual fitting rooms, shoppers can have a good idea of whether a product will suit them, which can lead to increased conversions.
- Reduced returns. Because there is no way for shoppers to know if an item they’re buying online will suit them in real life, returns are an unfortunate fact of life for online retailers. A growing number of online customers also buy multiple items, only intending to keep a few. For example, they might order the same dress in several sizes or colours or buy a style of pants they wouldn’t normally wear. By giving customers a way to try on items even when they’re shopping from the comfort of their homes, brands can reduce the number of returns they have to deal with.
- Standing out from competitors. Virtual fitting rooms are still a novelty. If customers can try on items digitally on your website, it’ll give you a competitive advantage.
Getting started with a virtual fitting room
Every virtual fitting room, regardless if it’s going to be deployed in-store or online, starts with 3D models of a brand’s product catalogue. Once these are created, usually with an agency that specialises in 3D and AR, the brand will also need to develop visualisation experiences.
In the case of online fitting rooms, brands can upload these experiences onto their website or elsewhere online, like the metaverse. On the other hand, brands interested in an in-store virtual fitting room will also require special hardware (i.e., screens attached to units) to display these virtual try-on experiences.
With years of experience in 3D and AR experiences, Poplar Studio can help you create the best virtual fitting room for your store. Contact us today to get started.