Virtual Try-On AI Technology Brings Benefits to Online Retailers

AI can play a crucial role in contributing to a robust virtual try-on platform by helping personalize each user’s experience. From face shape scanning and customized filtration of models “fitted” to your face to personalized product section. And this is just for the eyewear industry. 

In essence, a virtual try-on platform is an extension of but also a marriage of digital and physical channels for customer engagement.

SmartBuyGlasses, an online retailer of prescription eyewear, recently debuted a virtual try-on tool that helps customers test out glasses using their smartphone from wherever they are. 

The tool allows customers to digitally try eyeglasses and sunglasses– more than 20,000 different frames– directly on their own faces and see how the eyewear looks from different angles.

“People want convenience and trust, so what better way to give them this than by creating an even better environment than shopping in brick-and-mortar stores?” says David Menning, co-founder of SmartBuyGlasses. “E-tailers must invest in AR platforms like virtual try-on experiences if they want shoppers to choose them. 

From his perspective, allowing customers to preview products or experience services in their environment and on their own time before making a purchase will only increase conversion and sales.

Customers expect virtual try-on platforms to be user-friendly, highly accurate, and able to provide a realistic representation of what the product will look like on them.

Key user experience (UX) points to consider when designing these platforms include seamless integration with existing e-commerce platforms, support for a wide range of devices, and the ability to provide personalized recommendations.

“By improving accuracy and speed and reducing the need for manual intervention, AI can provide a smooth and seamless experience,” Menning says. “It can also help retailers to optimize their inventory and predict customer preferences, all in all adding to the user’s experience.”

Chris Corteen, metaverse solutions leader at KPMG, adds AR allows for greater product engagement than the traditional ecommerce interface, enabling a customer to interact with the product and see how it would look against them, for color, style, or fit.

“This level of interaction can also create an emotional bond with the brand and company improving the overall purchase experience,” he says. “AI can be instructed to select an appropriate product.”

For example, asking the AI for a dress in a certain size and color makes product research simple and easy.

“Also, as the AI learns styles and products it can make suggestions and take the recommendation engine to the next level of interaction,” Corteen notes. 

Gartner director, analyst Tuong Nguyen points out virtual try-on is still new enough to be a novelty.

“As such, there’s no baseline demands on something most people don’t know about, yet,” he says, noting most smartphone users never demanded to have speech control of their devices.

“The UX question is tied to UI and UI is a very hard problem to solve if it can be solved,” he explains. “It tends to be an evolution over time with certain standards rising to the top. There will be considerable trial an error before the industry settles on a set of best practices.”

Corteen agrees consumers expect the platforms to work and have an easy-to-use interface, cautioning that a complicated interface will frustrate customers and they will quickly abandon their search.

“Customers will want to see large selections and product offerings, and this is where AI can play a part,” he says. “If the user can ‘talk’ to the app then the interface becomes much simpler.”

Nguyen says a big part of this is providing a more comprehensive, or at least less standalone experience, noting current try-on experiences are siloed – single apps, delivering single products, or product lines.

“As anyone who has ever shopped at a large department store, large online retailer, large physical retailer, you know you can mix and match choices and brands,” he says. “As far as I can tell, this is non-existent, or very rare for virtual try-on.”

Menning says key stakeholders charged with crafting strategy in virtual try-on platforms include product managers, UX designers, developers, and data scientists.

These stakeholders must work together to ensure that the platform is designed to provide an optimal user experience while meeting the retailer’s business goals.

“We can expect virtual try-on technology to become more widespread and sophisticated by integrating AI and machine learning algorithms,” he notes.

This will help retailers provide customers with a personalized experience, improve the accuracy of virtual try-on, and increase the efficiency of the shopping experience.

“I also see augmented reality becoming more commonplace, allowing customers to interact with virtual products in life-like ways,” Menning says. “Essentially, technology will keep improving to create the most convenient way of shopping from wherever customers are located.” 

Corteen says he also expects a rapid evolution in this space as more technology companies and ecommerce companies adopt AR and VR platforms and experiences.

“Once Apple launches a device and the new iPhones with improved LIDAR cameras hit the market this should help adoption,” he adds. “We will see more on the AR front over the next 6-12 months as more brands introduce devices and others become AR focused and enter the market.”