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  • Writer's pictureDonavan R

The Innovations in 3D & AR That Will Transform E-commerce

New technology is opening up further opportunities within e-commerce, as AR and 3D sizing solutions help online retailers to solve challenges around size and fit.

Consumers are already shopping online more than ever before, of course, but these solutions could further accelerate the shift to e-commerce – particularly within fashion.

The EY Consumer Index recently found that 60% of US consumers are currently visiting brick-and-mortar stores less than they did before the pandemic, while 43% of those surveyed shop more often online for products they would have previously bought in stores.

With further innovation in sizing technology, could we see even more consumers ditching physical retail for specific products or journeys?

Innovation in ‘try-on’ technology

Augmented reality solutions or virtual ‘try-on’ technology have become more relevant in the past 18 months, as consumers have shifted to online shopping during Covid-19 lockdowns. From furniture brands like Ikea to beauty brands including L’Oréal, many retailers use the tools to enable consumers to determine how products might look in the context of real life.

Advancements in the technology have also occurred in the past year or so, particularly within the clothing category.

Social platforms and retailers invest in AR

Many retailers are now use online sizing software, but Walmart’s recent acquisition of Israeli company Zeekit is one of the first major examples of a big retail investment. Announcing Walmart’s plans, Denise Incandela, EVP of Apparel and Private Brands for Walmart US, said: “Virtual try-on is a game-changer and solves what has historically been one of the most difficult things to replicate online: understanding fit and how an item will actually look on you. Zeekit will help us deliver an inclusive, immersive and personalised experience for our diverse customer base.”

Snapchat could be another option for retailers looking into virtual try-on solutions. Last March, the social media platform acquired Fit Analytics in a deal worth $124.4m. And in May, Snapchat unveiled a host of new AR try-on experiences at its Snap Partner Summit; the updated Lens Studio now includes “3D Body Mesh, Cloth Simulation, and a Visual Effects Editor, which make AR look and move more realistically than ever before.” Essentially, it will enable users to try virtual clothes on via their camera in a much more immersive and realistic way, giving brands further reason to invest in social commerce.

Making 3D design more accessible

Another update from Snap is the addition of DIY templates for AR shopping. Carolina Arguelles, ‎Global Product Marketing Lead, Augmented Reality at Snap, explained to Forbes: “Brands can hire experts to create these experiences but, if they’re savvy, they can also just plug 3D models they would have from their product development cycle into Lens Studio for free,” she says.

What does this technology mean for the future of retail?

MySize’s Ronen Luzon suggests that once consumers try any kind of sizing technology, they will find it difficult to revert back to the previous ‘status quo’ – making trying on clothes in person or guessing online a jarring experience. What’s more, he also predicts that – as more and more consumers get used to the technology – retailers could make it mandatory.

“While we’re finding more and more online retailers are embracing sizing technology and encouraging shoppers to use these features, I think it might actually become a requirement in the future,” he says. “I believe sellers will ask customers to tick a box confirming that they have used sizing tech to determine if the product they’re ordering is the correct size.”

Not only will this benefit the consumers, he says; it will also benefit retailers’ bottom line.

“Creating physical samples is a huge cost and often takes longer than planned, leading to late deliveries to retailers,” she says. Crowder cites US clothing manufacturer Mamiye Brother’s as an example of a company that has sold to retailers using 3D digital samples instead of physical samples. “This results in increased sales and huge cost savings. There is no going back after seeing the benefits to the bottom line,” she explains. With both AR and 3D technology now impacting much more than the basic customer experience, it’s likely we will see even more investment and innovation in this space.

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