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Want to Try on Gucci Shoes From Anywhere? There’s an AR App for That

Gucci’s latest move cements augmented reality’s status as an emerging technology to watch, especially for brands whose products hinge on fit.

The LVMH-owned luxury house updated its iOS mobile app with a new feature that gives users the option to “try on” the brand’s Ace sneaker collection—virtually.

AR and its cousin, virtual reality, are seen as experiential and experimental technologies than enhance the customer experience and can nudge people to buy once they see how a sofa looks in their home or, as IKEA’s doing, or model a new makeup look a la Sephora.

Other companies having been looking into AR’s potential to mimic the fitting room experience. NexTech, a company that provides AR-enabled e-commerce for brands and retailers, launched a try-on offering that incorporates sentiment analysis. If you’re smiling as you virtually don a potential new hat, the brand can encourage you to pull the trigger; just the opposite if you’re frowning or otherwise showing displeasure.

Gucci’s gamble on augmented reality reveals important clues about catering to luxury shoppers. AR hasn’t quite taken off according to hype and expectations but high-end customers, accustomed to the best of the best, just might expect to encounter this kind of future-forward experience when they open the Gucci app.

In April research firm Gartner noted that a 2018 survey shows 46 of retailers planning to implement AR or VR by 2020 to enhance customer service. The year ahead could push these technologies past a tipping point, as 100 million consumers are expected to incorporate AR and VR into their in-store and online shopping, Gartner added.

To build the augmented reality try-on feature into its iOS app, Gucci partnered with Belarusian AR commerce firm Wannaby, one of 30 startups selected as finalists in late March for the LVMH Innovation Award. Customers open the app, pick the size, style and color of popular Ace sneakers they’re interested in, point their phone camera at their feet and admire how the shoes look in their real-world environment. There’s an option for users to capture and share photos of themselves in the shoes, a nod to young consumers’ increasing interest and investment in not just real-world style but digital fashion, too.

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The Gucci integration follows the release earlier this year of Wanna Kicks, an app broadly enabling plug-and-play footwear try-on capabilities for any interested shoe brand or retailer. Nearly one year ago, the Minsk-based startup, which has raised $2 million in a January 2018 seed round, was soliciting brands to be the “first” to enable AR-based shoe fittings that it claimed could drive 10x engagement with Gen Z.

There might be some truth to the Gen Z claim. Recent research led by Oracle NetSuite shows that the youngest generation is largely unimpressed with retailers’ in-store AR efforts because they’re already using AR from brands like Sephora leveraging the tech for things like virtual makeup try-on.

Still, the jury’s out on the extent to which AR will encourage consumers to buy Gucci’s pricey kicks through the app instead of visiting a store to be sure they fit as expected.

Wannaby’s Wanna Nails and Wanna Jewelry offerings indicate its ambition to bring AR further into the commerce world.