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The Future of Retail: Virtual Try-On, Augmented Reality & Mobile Will Be Key Sales Drivers

Augmented reality will soon be more than a retail novelty — and a large majority of consumers believe it will play a significant role in the future of shopping.

According to a new report from Snapchat and Foresight Factory that surveyed 20,000 consumers across 12 global markets in May 2021, there will be a 33% increase in the proportion of Gen Z shoppers using AR before buying a product by 2025. Forty-five percent of millennials are anticipated to use AR.

Already, 62% of US consumers who have used AR when shopping noted that the technology encouraged them to make a purchase.

While COVID-19 pandemic hit retail, forcing store to closes, when most reopened, shoppers were still unable to try on clothes and product in-person. This inability to trial and try-on products prior to purchase has been a hindrance, per the study, with almost half of consumers in the U.S. claiming that they have found this frustrating.

As a result, Covid has only spurred the widespread adoption of AR and the virtual product personalization and testing at the pointofsale.

Now looking ahead to a post-COVID world, just under 30% of shoppers said they would actually prefer to use AR to try on clothes virtually, rather than visit a store to do so in real life.

Last year, Gucci launched new filters in partnership with Snapchat that enabled users of the platform to virtually try on Gucci sneakers via the app. They were also able to purchase the shoes right away via a “shop now” button. According to retail experts interviewed in the report, AR should be a priority for retailers looking to optimize ecommerce customer satisfaction.

Plus, the online shopping boom is only continuing to grow: 24% of U.S. shoppers indicated that they will shop online even more in the year ahead compared to the last 12 months.

But virtual technology won’t completely take the place of brick-and-mortar. Instead, these innovations are necessary to drive consumers to physical stores by matching the convenience of online shopping.

That combination of digital with an in-store experience is the future. So far 35% of consumers said they would go out of their way to visit a store if it had interactive virtual services, such as a smart mirror that allowed them to try on clothes, the study found.

Mobile is another tool poised to drive sales post-pandemic, with 63% of millennials responding that they never go shopping without their cell phones.