Warby Parker is joining the growing group of retailers using augmented reality so shoppers can virtually try on its glasses, a new wrinkle for a company that has let consumers physically sample glasses at home since its founding in 2010.
Erin Collins, senior director of ecommerce and consumer insights for Warby Parker, told TechCrunch that launching an AR capability presented technical challenges and many revisions.
“The second thing was making sure the frame images looked as photorealistic as possible, which meant getting 3D artists to digitally render them and lots of revisions to get pixel perfect on each pair of frames,” Collins said.
Warby Parker is using Apple’s ARKit, which is only available on the company’s iOS app for the iPhone X or later, according to TechCrunch.
“I think Warby Parker has always conducted itself as a premium brand that is highly personalized,” said Scott Webb, President of Avionos. “They stayed out of the traditional glasses retail environment and built themselves as a direct-to-consumer brand. This is certainly consistent with other trends we’re seeing to connect online and offline channels adding AR and VR capabilities.”
Warby Parker had attempted virtual try-on on its website, but it was pulled shortly after implementation, according to TechCrunch.
“The virtual shopping malls are coming, the virtual shopping malls are coming, well still not yet, but AR is now a standard feature any commerce team should take advantage of in their mobile experience,” said Darin Archer, CMO of Elastic Path. “I bought my living room rug off of Crate & Barrel after ‘seeing’ how it would look on my floor with my furniture. This will feel as standard as ratings and reviews in the next year or two.”
Nancy Hua, CTO and Co-Founder of Apptimize said testing and feature flagging are important in the rollout and validation of VR/AR features both technically and in terms of ROI.
“Warby Parker can use A/B testing to figure out the impact on app engagement and on their bottom line now that it’s hopefully a more convenient and engaging shopping experience,” said Hua. “As brands get more mobile-first and tech-forward, they need to invest in these mobile industry best practices that traditional software companies like Facebook helped prove and establish.”
The AR technology Warby Parker built uses a proprietary algorithm to place virtual frames on the user’s face. It also allows customers to snap a screenshot and share it to get feedback on the frames.
“This is the next evolution,” Webb said. “My guess would be this is targeted at people who have already bought at Warby Parker, who really have a sense of it and are now testing the style. All of these are ways of decreasing objection to the conversion.”
Webb said AR also helps retailers reduce the volume of returns while increasing conversions.
“I think this year we’ll continue to see this type of experimentation, with many more brands trying AR and VR,” he said. “We’re moving into next-gen commerce that’s about human-powered commerce and a natural interface, moving beyond the click.”