VR Clothes and Fashion Shopping and In-Purchase Micro-Influencing
Imagine this, you’ve been invited to a dinner party, but all week you’ve crazy busy, and now you’ve almost zero time to get anywhere near the town to do any shopping.
What’s even worse, you have zero clue what to buy and at the best of times you pick awful clothing.
But in no way could you ever afford one of those fancy personal shoppers and stylists….ok so this is so 2019.
Same situation, late, awful at choosing, you now simply put on your VR headset and login to Amazon/other retailer that offers VR shopping and enter the virtual store where you are instantly greeted by your own favourite virtual assistant that you have got to know over a few years.
In the VR world you already uploaded your Avatar, this has full pictures of you and your body type, which was a simple system of wearing a techno-suit that allowed your phone to process your exact measurements from its sensors.
So now when you login, you are asked a few questions
- Hi there NAME, hope you are well?
- How can I help you today?
- Are you in a rush or do you have time to let me show you some cool things that your friends and I think you might like?
- What is your budget?
- Are you open to offers/promos?
Would you like a more personalised service (premium and human) to help you choose or do you want me the AI assistant (who knows your buyer behaviour and interests already) to be the one who helps you browse.
Stop total fashion disasters!
In this virtual world you can choose to browse ‘real’ stores, or if you are more practical, you could have a virtual vending machine where all stock is categorised and easy to find by yourself or with ‘creative/commercial’ assistance.
Plus you get to instantly try things on and see how you look walking around.
Upgrade the shopping experience
For an upgrade you could choose to be placed in cool places like parties, events or famous sights, and see how others will see you walking around, maybe you want a particular advisor or influencer that you follow who is available to kit you out.
And as you are trying on your item(s) your virtual assistant(s) are finding accessories that you can add to the mix.
Does this sound useful?
Welcome to the power of meta/big data and VR.
Oh yes, you also get a guarantee that it is in stock, in your size when you are trying, and it gets droned out to your house in 2 hours after purchase, or at the very least the next day if this has not evolved.
What is even better for retailers and you as the consumer is because returns have been reduced to 10% from 50% average, pre VR, you get all items at a reduced cost that has been passed down to the consumer, ‘every little helps’ as they say.
Environmentally friendly shopping experience
Plus with no need to drive into town, and drive back to the post office 50% of the time and expect another van to drive your item back 50% of the time you are clearly saving the environment too it would seem.
The adoption of Virtual Reality and In-Purchase Micro-Influencing will be the most amazing (r)evolution in online shopping
Traditional and Online Clothing Retailers Be Warned!
I am afraid in the future if you’re a traditional or online clothing retailer.
One with a bricks and mortar shop, warehouses, staff, and all those rates and bills.
Plus all the headache of keeping stock in store, and not having stock for everyone when they need it.
Then dealing with returns and also selling online in the way we do now.
Then this prediction of the future of clothes retailing and distribution will not give you much hope unless you’re able to adapt and foresee the change that will sweep the industry, and in that way you may well be onto something huge.
Sorry about that, but let’s embrace the obvious next step in the evolution and adapt accordingly!
So why will this technology will be useful:
Imagine an instant ability to try on clothing, test accessories, get advice, benefit from live deals and promotions, the list of possibilities here is huge.
Benefit to shoppers
Put simply the online experience is currently not as good as being in a store.
Speed and choice
- Buyers can see clothing from a huge variety of choices instantly (IMAGINE!)
- These choices can be placed on perfect avatars of you in seconds and accessorised in moments
- You can watch yourself to be virtually seen in a bar, club, street, famous place…
- You will be able to walk and see what it feels like and also see yourself as others do, the virtual you
In-purchase micro-influencing (you heard it first here) will be a way of showing items that your friends/peers what they like as you browse items.
This could be on a follow basis or by your email address and could even be incentivised by gaining credits for discounts the more you suggest items that your friends may like, or perhaps will work on kickbacks from referrals if you choose an item suggested to you by your peer group.
This will not be ‘I want what she has’.
We all know that’s not cool for fashionistas, this will be I like what she likes and I will get paid in gifts/credits/loyalty systems for being part of that metadata transaction and perhaps get a freebie every now and again for having that virtual conversation that benefits the retailer and consumer.
Brands can pay for special offers to be live and discounted as the person is being assisted (optional controls on who can offer, type of discounts, any payback for promotions and frequency).
You’ll be able to get people you trust or want to see you, to live-view your clothing choices before you buy, to get approvals.
Those viewers may count towards a promotional credit as you are effectively recommending items to your network (like a micro influencer).
Mo meta, mo money
AI assistants can build even more of a picture of your needs and desires based on your peer influencer group suggestions, and your uptake of items in terms of what you like or approve, and suggest things to both the assistant that is either fully AI or a hybrid human and AI, and yourself.
Hybrid AI and human interaction
- Shops can up/cross-sell masses of items and allow the buyer to test them with their avatar
- Actually humanise the experience by mixing AI with real people, so humour/human touch is not lost as much
- Virtual assistants will be like super-charged helpers with the aid of AI and personalisation suggestions
Benefit to brands
- Have your whole range of outfits available in every size to be tried on 24/7 globally (WOW!)
- Promote at the right time with the right products (accessories, perfume etc)
- Create loyalty via offers and kickbacks/credits
Benefit to retailers
- No need to handle stock
- Stock can be stored in a more affordable manner in a centralised distribution warehouse
- No need to employ staff in an actual building
- Virtual assistants can work remotely, saving travel costs
- Save hugely on returns policy as you’ll know that they fit 95% of the time exactly
Virtual Reality Clothes Shopping is the Future
As we move to an even greater digitally integrated world, punctuated by deeper personalisation of services from the use of AI and big data, wouldn’t it be great to embrace the best of what the future holds, which can help us in two key ways:
- Drastically reduce the business burden and personal headache of the need to return items
- Ensure we know what clothes look like before we buy and get a massively cool personalised shopping experience without leaving home
Clearly the current situation with e-commerce stores selling clothing, is that the return policy puts people off because they have to pay to return clothing that doesn’t fit, and it’s still very expensive to offer a free return policies such as Amazon and ASOS do.
One of the benefits of virtual reality will be that you can scan yourself into a database system that pretty much understands your body size.
There are many technologies on the market currently available to do this, and once you’ve decided what you want to be shown, you can choose your location to shop to make it more fun and also to see you wearing the items.
Plus you can choose the type of person you wish to engage with as an assistant and you will be able to tell your helper exactly what you’re looking for.
Store assistants will have detailed information about what you browse, what you try on and what you like.
And the metadata that is contained within each item which will be input into your own personalised metadata based around your avatar and will be able to learn more and more about what you like and tailor itself towards your personal interests.
Imagine your system has suggested a few items of clothing.
All you will have to do is to access the virtual environment of the shop and instantaneously you’re able to see yourself walking down a catwalk or walking through a party or having a dance at a club, or maybe walking down a very famous street such as Oxford Street in London wearing your new item(s).
After testing the outfit, you’ve decided that this would be a great fit for you and your assistant says I can also offer you some accessories that will make you look fantastic, plus we have offers that you can check out if you wish.
Does this all sound a bit cold?
Well imagine again that this virtual assistant isn’t quite as virtual as you may think and is actually somebody who plays part virtual and human assistant.
They are able to go through inventory with the help of artificial intelligence developing a relationship that can lend some humour and that human touch into the transaction.
I think this is the future of shopping online and while we might not embrace it quickly due to technological issues.
Clearly this will have huge benefits in saving return costs as your clothing will fit much better and people will be able to see exactly which size fits them in terms of watching themselves wearing the items prior to purchase.
So where are we now?
In an illuminating article by the BBC we can see that ‘Amazon seek to patent a “virtual fitting room” app. Yet to be developed, the app would scour a customer’s social media photographs to predict their fashion style before identifying possible suggestions.
And two other big incumbents of retail have started to experiment according to the BBC article;
“Nike recently launched a new store in New York where customers can try on sports shoes and immerse themselves in a digital game while running on a treadmill. Alibaba has launched similar “experience-led” stores in China.”
Gamifying your buying and spreading awareness and loyalty to a system
As people are so overwhelmed with options and even though personalisation is currently king and pretty cool, we may still need to differentiate the new shopping experiences to gain loyalty or uniqueness and stickability in making people return.
Outfittery based in Berlin are already trying to deliver on the technological possibilities of personalisation.
Outfittery founders Julia Bösch and Anna Alex are on a mission to personalise the fashion experince
It is stated that Outfittery uses a blend of sophisticated algorithms and human stylists to come up with a selection of clothes tailored to your stated style preferences, size, personality and aspirations.
Ms Bösch says the company has a current total of 20 algorithms making the selections and eventually it plans to develop its own exclusive brands using the insights it has gleaned from its 600,000 customers.
Native Virtual (VR) Sport Ads
Another idea could be to give people the option to enter virtual races/exercise regimes on their home gym equipment or within commercial gyms with state of the art equipment, where the environment is blended with ads.
This is really staring to get very Black Mirror now as it could be that you’ve got a tiered/subsidised gym membership based on how much you consume of the commercial ‘stuff’ you witness as you scale the virtual alps on your road bike.
Imagine in your own gym at home, walking or biking a set route, and as you’re going along you can earn rewards by being exposed to new fashion items that are almost like native virtual ads, woven into the surroundings in that they’re worn by bikers or walkers around you or by passing public as you walk the streets.
Where are we heading?
If this scares or excites you, or you already know some areas where this is happening or have creative ideas yourself, let us all know in the comments below, I am intrigued to open this debate up wider!