Leaders in the retail industry have been exploring the idea of in-store tech for years, aiming to provide customers with a frictionless, engaging and personalized shopping experience. Virtual reality and augmented reality have been particularly popular in brick-and-mortar stores—a move that Jose Neves, founder of Farfetch, believes is a prelude to the future of the retail industry. “The new retail era is one anchored in ‘augmented retail,’ a blend of the digital and physical allowing a shopper to shift seamlessly between the two realms,” the same way people tend to use technology in their everyday lives, New York Times reports.
Leading fashion brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Rebecca Minkoff are embracing this augmented retail shift with a new trend — digitally enhanced mirrors in fitting rooms. The mirrors are equipped with sensors that recognize garments as soon a customer brings them into a fitting room. Based on that information, they can also suggest other products to browse, and allow the shopper to request a new size or new color without popping out to ask a sales associate for help. They can also order those products online — on the spot.
Celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury’s eponymous cosmetics brand is also utilizing “magic mirror” technology, featuring them in her London stores. Developed by Holition, the digital mirrors let each customer “try on” the 10 signature beauty looks developed by the brand before selecting one for their makeup application service. Much like the filter options on Snapchat, the makeup looks track to the individual’s face, allowing them to zoom in on details in eyeshadow or lipstick. One feature enables the shopper to see all 10 looks side-by-side and in real-time to assess which look is their favorite. Email and social options are available at the magic mirror so customers can seek opinions from friends in real time. Shoppers can also purchase the products used to create each look from the magic mirror, or see how to turn their look from day to night in one click.
Jonathan Chippindale, CEO of Holition tells Forbes, “We [needed] to clearly understand how makeup is applied and only then could we start to create this digitally and make the virtual look as realistic as possible… Our creatives spent many months creating and perfecting the 10 looks including color, shape, skin tone and face tracking.” And Holition clearly nailed it. When asked about the new stores, Tilbury says, “It’s makeup made easy, but also fun and engaging. I can only liken it to falling down Alice’s rabbit hole into a world of make-up enchantment – my stores are all about making makeup easy-to-use, easy-to-choose, and easy-to-shop in a luxurious theatrical, sensory environment.”
More than just a cool, inspirational feature, the magic mirror taps into layers of a beauty junkie’s psyche that may not be apparent at first glance. It uses AR features that most millennials first saw on Snapchat, but in a luxury retail setting. It harkens back to beauty tutorials many shoppers are familiar with, except rather than a beauty blogger’s face transformed before our eyes, it’s your own. And maybe this is a stretch, but the name and nature of the magic mirror even drums up “Mirror, mirror on the wall” echoes in my mind — a Snow White line that serves as one of the earliest beauty references in my childhood. Too far? Not for a shopper like me, who could play around with this in-store feature for hours.
Unlike many stores whose augmented retail gimmicks can feel disconnected from the shopping experience, Charlotte Tilbury’s digital mirror aids the shopper in a practical, seamless manner. It plays to both the discovery and personalization factors that have long eluded the overlap between retail and technology, while also plugging into an emotional experience for the shopper. Plus, it uses technology to let shoppers decide which beauty look works best for them in all of 30 seconds — a service that would take at least 30 minutes without augmented reality involved.
Will digital mirrors become mainstream in a retail store near you? We certainly don’t have that answer, but if it helps retailers connect clicks and bricks, we bet you’ll see much more of it.
At Curalate, we’re constantly staying on top of the latest trends in commerce — and helping brands bridge the gap between clicks and bricks. We help more than 800 of the world’s leading brands sell online more effectively by creating compelling commerce experiences that adapt to how consumers discover products. On average, our clients achieve:
- 79% increases in time-on-site.
- 16% jumps in average order value.
- 31% increases in conversion rate.
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