The Augmented Reality (AR) solution in retail has been a topic of discussion at all major retail meets and events over the last one year. The technology is however, yet to fully permeate the Indian retail system, with only a handful of retailers in India being bold enough to adopt this dynamic solution to beat the challenges of long queues outside the dressing room and more so, provide an enriching shopping experience to their shoppers.
Globally the concept has caught momentum across genres – from apparel to furniture. In India, Shoppers Stop has taken the plunge and installed Magic Mirrors at their Malad store in Mumbai in November 2015.
Why? Here’s the reason:
Take for example a shopper named Radhika Shah. She loves shopping. She claims to have tried majority of the brands present at any mall in Mumbai. She also minces no words in saying that she usually picks her stuff only from those stores where the queue outside the trial rooms is not too long. If there are more than two people before her, she drops her shopping bag and moves on to another store.
Shoppers Stop decided to make a smart move to ensure no Radhika Shah ever leaves their store without making a purchase. Helping them in this endeavour was Textronics with their AR based virtual dressing room solution – TryON. Known as Magic Mirror at Shoppers Stop, TryON is a virtual dressing room.
The Launch of the Concept
It took Shoppers Stop approximately one month to roll out the Magic Mirror. The store at Malad was narrowed down upon keeping in mind its sheer size which happens to be one of their largest stores. In all, there are five Magic Mirrors installed at the store and very soon the retailer plans to introduce this solution across their other stores as well.
In terms of customer education, the retailer has ensured that the floor staff is trained well to respond to customer queries on how best the Magic Mirror can be used. Besides, there are well articulated instructions placed near the Magic Mirror to navigate customers. Moreover, the Magic Mirror itself is an interactive kiosk that provides step-bystep instructions on its usage. A routine check is carried out everyday to ensure its smooth functioning.
Sharing her first hand experience of using the Magic Mirror, a consumer, Ashika Patel Vyaas shares, “Keeping in mind my work timings, I am always pressed for time when I go out shopping. At Shoppers Stop usually there is a long queue and this used to be a turn off. On my last visit, I came across the Magic Mirror. I was a bit reluctant to try it first but then I decided to give it a shot and to my delight, my shopping time reduced drastically and further I was able to pick up exactly what I wanted without any fuss. The Magic Mirror helped me put up an entire ensemble for myself. This is a good initiative.”
Customer Care Associate & GM – Technology Infrastructure, Shoppers Stop Ltd., Anil Shankar said, “The Magic Mirror is a huge opportunity in terms of digitizing the store and providing endless options for the customers to try virtually. In future, we plan to integrate the Magic Mirror with other store solutions to improve customer engagement, as well as further enhancing the experience. Customers would be able to ‘try’, click and share images to their social media accounts.”
Former Customer Care Associate & CEO at Shoppers Stop Ltd. Salil Nair, added, “The Magic Mirror has become a focal point at our store with our customers frequently checking out the virtual dressing room. It is still early days but we see the Magic Mirror as a huge opportunity in customer convenience, time-saving and consequently incremental purchases. Over a period of time, we would want the customers to even place an order/ gift etc. using the Magic Mirror.”
The Need For Augmented Reality
Aptly explaining the need to opt for augmented reality solutions like TryOn, Founder, Textronics Design Systems, Sanjeev Arora said, “It is time to move on from customer satisfaction to customer delight.”
Solutions like TryON help digitally manage limitless product options in real time with ease of access, rich visual experience and overcoming nuances to trial room rush, damage to inventory due to excessive trying of garments before they land in the customer’s shopping bag and reducing folding and stocking options. But are retailers in India ready to adopt augmented reality in true sense?
Arora stated, “Producing augmented reality solutions and content in advanced digital formats requires skills not yet readily available in the market. Retailers need to be prepared to compete for top talent. And they must create a collaborative environment that enables technical integrators and content producers to work seamlessly toward the same goal: to deliver a good experience.”
“Equally important, retailers need to pay attention to store employees. For an augmented reality solution to be the main component of an integrated instore experience, it is crucial that store employees and managers understand and promote the solution. This means they must be trained on how to drive and encourage the desired customer behavior and how to answer shoppers’ questions about the augmented reality solution’s use,” he concluded.