The emergence of e-commerce and online shopping in 1995 revolutionized the retail market. Today, we are beginning to see another major shift in shopping culture with retail companies launching mobile apps. These apps completely eliminate the need to shop in person, a feat that e-commerce couldn’t accomplish. The shortcomings that came along with online shopping have maintained the demand for retail stores. So although shopping online is convenient and widespread, it also adds an additional hassle of having to return items that don’t fit. This need to try on items is what has prevented the elimination of retail stores altogether. But, retail stores may no longer be needed to fill a void in the e-commerce model as mobile apps work to overcome the shortcomings. It is my prediction that mobile apps will completely turn the retail market on its head.
How to Shop: in Person, Online, or with Mobile Apps
It is no surprise that consumers readily choose e-commerce websites over shopping in person. Many people believe that the convenience of shopping online outweigh the hassle of going shopping in person. There is no doubt that shopping from the comfort of your own home is less time consuming than driving to retail stores. There is a benefit, however, to shopping in person, one that online shopping doesn’t offer. The ability to try items on before a purchase is a major draw to shopping in person. The lifeline that’s keeping retail stores from going extinct is the try-on component that e-commerce sites don’t offer. So, although online shopping may not have caused retail stores to go out of business, mobile apps might. The emergence of a new mobile app feature is putting retail stores in jeopardy: cue virtual try-on.
The Revolutionary New Feature
Apps such as Tiffany & Co’s Ring Finder have created a virtual try on option that allows you to see what an item looks like on your own body. This feature makes it so you don’t have to go to a retail store to try on an item in addition to not having to order items on an e-commerce site with the possibility of having to exchange sizes. Tiffany’s Ring Finder allows you to take a photo of your hand and place different rings on. This is revolutionary because you can compare styles on your actual body without going into a physical store.
Similarly, Warby Parker, a sunglass company, lets you see what different frames look like on. This feature allows you to compare styles on your actual face so you’re guaranteed to like how your glasses look when you buy them on the app.
A more mainstream clothing company has also added the virtual try-on feature to their mobile app. Gap announced in January that their new app will allow customers to create an avatar of themselves where they can try on any clothes. The avatar will have accurate measurements for customers’ bodies and will show customers how different sized items will fit them. To check out the Gap app, click here.
Mobile Apps have finally solved the shopping in person vs. online dilemma. No longer do customers have to waste time ordering and returning clothing sizes that don’t fit. The ability to virtually try-on products using mobile apps is a revolutionary feature that will change the retail market forever.