Internet has revolutionised the way we live today. We seek information online, we study online, we watch the news online, we watch movies online, we chat with friends online and we also shop online. Our lives are bound by the internet. As many say, internet is the biggest culture shift we are seeing today, and we are very much a part of it.
Saying this, I believe Technology is the backbone of e-tailing or online retailing. It is also apparent that technological developments will continue to play a critical role in the growth and adoption of e-tailing, primarily by reducing the divide between physical and online stores and by ensuring efficient execution.
Virtual Trial Rooms
Unlike the brick and mortar stores, where we can pick and feel the product before we buy, Online stores do not have a direct connection with the consumers. Hence, all the e-commerce companies, are looking at technologies such as virtual and haptics to replicate experience given by the physical stores.
One such innovation which stands out is the Virtual Trial Room technology which enables the consumers to “try” clothes, jewellery, eye-wear virtually. The technology behind this is called Augmented Reality, which overlays a digital layer of information over a live video feed. You can read more about this technology other articles of this blog.
We have seen that many retailers have experimented with this technology, for example RayBan has launched their virtual trial room recently. Other retailers who have opted for this technology are Banana Flame in apparel, and Vision Express, Tortoise and Blonde Eyewear in the eyewear category in the UK. In India, we see online retailers like Myntra, Zovi, Lenskart etc implement this technology in their online stores.
Current stage of Virtual Trial Rooms
While this technology promises to be the future of shopping, it still in its infancy. We mostly see stores overlaying image of the clothes, jewellery on top an image of the consumer, providing a basic idea of what to expect while buying. Some retailers use images and 3D models, to overlay on top of a live video feed to give a more realistic appeal to the consumers. Other innovations include a robotic mannequin which gives you an idea of the fit.
While these technologies have shifted the user experience paradigm positively and consequently boosted store traffic, there are other advantages offered by the format, including co-shopping, which allows people in different places to examine the same product via the internet and make comparisons.
Integration with social media has huge impact in this technology. One simple share or a ‘like’ or tweet could give the consumer instant feedback from friends and associates. One step further we have social shopping. In physical stores, we often go to shopping with our friends, Online retailers are trying to implement the same experience by using the social graph from facebook, twitter and other social networks.
Future of Trial Rooms
In near future, this social networking site will be favorable to converse about the products catered, usability, traffic, reviews and ideas. People around the globe can collide and share their experience about online shopping and may even get acquainted with constructive benefits of the unpopular E-stores too. This retail based social network with multimedia features is assumed to acquire a good traffic of users enhancing their experience.
Another technology in the offing is haptic technology which will allow online shoppers to touch and feel the product. This could, for instance, let you get explore the ‘texture’ of the garment and so on.