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What Are Virtual Fitting Rooms and How Do They Work? (2023)


A virtual fitting room is a type of technology that lets shoppers try on items virtually.

Shoppers can virtually try on clothing items or beauty products without physically touching the items themselves. The augmented reality (AR) or artificial intelligence (AI) technology places the item over live imaging of the customer, so they can check the size, style, and fit of a product they’re thinking of buying.


It’s predicted that the global virtual fitting room market will grow from $4.03 billion in 2022 to $14.87 billion by 2029. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 13.44%.


That’s why brands like Walmart are investing in virtual fitting rooms. The retail giant recently acquired Zeekit, a virtual dressing room startup, which allows shoppers to see how clothes fit on body types similar to theirs.


What is a virtual fitting room?


A virtual fitting room allows shoppers to try on items without touching them. It works by overlaying an item on a live video feed of a customer via smartphones or mirrors. The shopper can see the size, style, and fit of an item before they buy it.


How virtual fitting room technology works


Most virtual fitting rooms work using augmented reality. In this case, a webcam scans a person’s body to create a 360-degree 3D model.


Other virtual fitting rooms are powered by artificial intelligence. Similar to augmented reality, AI uses algorithms and machine learning to take body measurements and create full-body 3D models of the shopper standing in front of the camera.


The 3D model created by AI or AR is combined with radio frequency identification (RFID). This is another technology that scans the products a shopper has taken to the virtual fitting room.


The only company, probably the only one so far, that uses all these three technologies together UC.Technology


Virtual reality technology overlays the scanned products on the 3D model of the shopper. That way, they can see what they look like wearing an item—without needing to physically try it on. It's an easy way to build a try before you buy program virtually.


Various retailers are creating their own software to do this. Apple’s augmented reality platform, ARKit, can be used to create virtual fitting rooms for iOS applications. Amazon also reportedly patented its own “blended-reality” mirror, which works using augmented reality.


Other key players in the virtual fitting room software space are:


The benefits of virtual fitting rooms


There are multiple benefits a virtual fitting room experience can provide for retailers.


Support online sales


Some 65% of visitors are more likely to place an order after interacting with a product in AR, fashion brand Rebecca Minkof found.

Retailers can take advantage of this and install virtual mirrors in their brick-and-mortar stores. There’s no need to dedicate valuable retail space to changing rooms. Instead, that space can be used to showcase stock and create visual merchandising displays.


Convenience


Did you know that 97% of consumers have abandoned a shopping purchase because it wasn’t convenient enough?


Choosing the correct clothing size from the hanger, walking over to a physical changing room, and swapping their clothing is inconvenient. Virtual fitting rooms, on the other hand, eliminate all of that. Shoppers can walk over to a virtual mirror and quickly see what the clothing looks like on them—no changing needed.


Build connections with customers


Customer loyalty is a long-term goal for most retailers. To build long-term relationships with customers, you need to first build a connection with them through diverse shopping experiences.

Virtual fitting rooms play a role in that process. If you’re allowing shoppers to try items on virtually in the comfort of their own home or in the middle of a safe retail store, you’re solving a huge problem for them.

Overall, virtual fitting rooms make online shopping more fun. That’s a surefire way to get customers coming back.


Reduce return rates


High return rates plague fashion brands. It’s an administrative headache and cuts into profits (especially if you’re offering free returns).

It’s estimated that 30% of ecommerce returns happen because the size is too small. Another 22% happen because the customer ordered the item in a size that’s too big.

Offering an online fitting room helps solve that problem. Shoppers—regardless of whether they’re trying on in-store or online—get to see what the item looks like on their body … without needing to touch it.

Zeekit co-founder Yael Vizel says Zeekit, a retail technology company, has seen a 36% reduction in return rates since it started using virtual fitting rooms.


The limitations of virtual fitting rooms


Customers still can’t physically touch items


f you’re using a virtual fitting solution for your online store, there’s still a risk that people won’t buy the items they’re trying on.

Some 57% of consumers said they want to view and touch products before buying them online. While virtual fitting rooms help shoppers see what items will look like on their body, they’re unable to feel the fabric.


Distrust of virtual items looking the same


Ever bought something online that looks totally different from the item that arrived in the mail?


While virtual fitting room technology is advanced, some shoppers still don’t feel confident in its ability to portray items the way they look in real life. They fear that items overlaid on a human body may be altered and won’t look the same when they try it on for the first time.


The technology can seem complicated


Virtual reality technology only became popular within the retail industry over the past decade. Retailers like Adidas, ASOS, and Macy’s are employing virtual fitting rooms in their stores and ecommerce platforms.

Because of this, there’s an idea that virtual fitting rooms would be an out-of-reach investment for smaller companies. Terri-Anne Turton, founder of The Tur-Shirt Company, says,“I’d not considered a virtual fitting room because I saw it as something the big brands do—not small businesses. I’m a small company with a limited marketing budget, and thought AR technology was too big of an investment for me to make.”

“I’ve quickly realized by being a unique, innovative small business that I absolutely should use a virtual fitting room, and that it is accessible to my brand. We shouldn’t assume something is out of reach just because the big brands are doing it,” she adds.

The easiest way to get started with AR retail is to use a premade application. There are several available through the Shopify App Store, like YouCam Makeup.


Virtual fitting room examples


Warby Parker


Warby Parker is a DTC retail company that sells eyeglasses exclusively through its website. In a bid to make shoppers feel more confident in their online purchase, it launched a virtual try-on feature through its iOS app.


The feature uses Apple’s ARKit and TrueDepth technology to show glasses on a shopper’s face. They get a 3D model of the product to see whether it suits them before committing to buying it.


Knix


Knix did most of its business through two showroom stores before the pandemic.


The retailer prided itself on giving incredible customer experiences that helped customers find their perfect fit. However, lockdowns meant it had to move its business online. Knix created a virtual fitting room for ecommerce customers to get the same service as visitors to its physical stores.


Now, Knix’s website hosts thousands of virtual fittings every month. The vast majority of available time slots to date have been booked.


Gucci


Luxury retailer Gucci partnered with long-term AR pioneer Snapchat to create its first four AR try-on shoes.


It created a virtual lens that overlaid a digital version of the shoe onto a shopper’s foot. Tied with a Shop Now button that directed shoppers to its online store, Gucci reached 18.9 million Snapchat users and reported a positive return on ad spend (ROAS) from the AR campaign


Charlotte Tilbury


It’s not just the fashion retailers that can use virtual fitting rooms to engage in-store shoppers.


Beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury installed a virtual mirror in its flagship London store. Shoppers could walk up to the mirror and see one of 10 famous makeup looks on their own face. They could take a photo of the makeup look and email themselves a list of products used to create it.


After using the virtual mirrors, Charlotte Tilbury found shoppers were more likely to purchase cosmetics in-store.


Get started with your own virtual fitting room


The key to succeeding in modern-day retail is giving customers the virtual shopping experiences they want.


Long gone are the days of visiting a store, queuing for a fitting room, and changing clothes. People want convenience—something a virtual fitting room delivers, regardless of where the shopper is browsing. They’ll reduce return rates, build connections with shoppers, and support online sales



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