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Future of shopping: “Try” a makeover before spending on one!

Augmented Reality has had far-reaching implications in the path to purchasing jewelry, furniture, home improvement or beauty products such as make up!

AR apps have moved from "trying on" beauty products on "selfies" to providing real-time virtual imagery of make-up on one's face Augmented Reality has the potential "to improve the customer experience, increase conversation rate and time spent" with a brand Golden Scent, a Saudi e-commerce beauty platform, is among the first in the Middle East to launch an “AR” feature on its app

The "augmented reality" (AR) hype went global with Pokemon Go in 2016. Three years down the line, this technology has gone beyond games to completely redefine the retail shopping experience. They are the next "cool" trend reshaping the retail industry. Smartphone-savvy millennial and Gen Z generations and their evolving consumer behaviors are driving companies, brands and retailers to offer "futuristic" AR experiences to increase brand engagement and loyalty. The current value of the AR market stands at $3.5 billion and is expected to increase to $198 billion by 2025, according to Statista.

The retail industry has been revolutionized by AR tech due to the interesting ways in which it addresses age-old gaps in the consumer experience. Specifically, AR has had far-reaching implications in the consumer's path to purchasing jewelry, furniture, home improvement or beauty products. The IKEA Place ARKit app, for instance, answered the "Will it fit?" and "What will it look like next to … ?" questions by providing consumers the opportunity to see what their furniture would look like in their consumers' homes – without the need to buy or move furniture. It's as simple as downloading an app onto a smartphone and using it to "visualize" what the furniture would look like inside a home. Macy's, Pottery Barn, and Magnolia Market – Shopify have similar apps as well.

The "beauty" of AR

Making the most of the "selfies" culture that has become descriptive of the way people use technology to engage with each other on social media, Sephora's Virtual Artist changed the game for beauty products. Initially, the AR app made a way for users to take a selfie and "virtually try on" products on that photograph. However, now the app allows consumers to view themselves moving in real-time trying on a range of new products.

Golden Scent, a Saudi Arabian e-commerce beauty platform, is among the first in the Middle East to launch an “Augmented Reality” feature on its Android and iPhone app. Branded as Virtual Try-On, the feature enables shoppers to try on makeup without the physical need to visit a retail store. Consumers can test makeup products from the comfort of their own homes using the app before purchasing them on Golden Scent’s online store.

"When it comes to digital innovation we wanted to start with something big, a game changer for e-commerce in the whole region and after many studies, we decided to go with AR, as we saw the huge potential and need for it in the market to improve the customer experience, increase conversation rate and time spent using the app," said Malik Al Shehab, Founder and CEO of Golden Scent.

Since the beauty platform hosts a wide variety of products from a large assortment of brands, the feature offers consumers the opportunity to experiment with hundreds of colors and products within seconds, unlike the extended shopping journey most customers face in retail stores.

"It is a step forward and a game changer for e-commerce. The majority of people would buy makeup online which they already used or tried in-store, but now they have the opportunity to try something new and try-on hundreds of colors within minutes. The good thing about AR is that sky is the limit when it comes to improving the feature as close as possible to reality and providing customers every day with something new to try. Starting from trying 10 lipsticks colors within seconds to trying 10 full makeup looks within seconds, of course, that is something can't happen in-store," Malik Al Shehab concluded.

L'Oreal Paris, which acquired Modiface – the AR beauty-tech company responsible for Sephora's Virtual Artist app, has also developed a Virtual Try On for make up and hair color.