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Putting the “AR” in Zara: Fast-Fashion Retailer Brings High Tech to Physical Shopping

Augmented reality is one of the latest technologies that fast-fashion retailer Zara hopes will help to shore up its position against competition from pure-play e-commerce brands.

Online-only fashion player Asos recently rolled out its own AR tool that lets shoppers see how an item of apparel looks on disparate body types, which could give customers greater confidence prior to buying, plus reduce costly returns.

Now Zara is going experiential with a limited-time AR feature that leverages shoppers’ smartphones to bring merchandise presentations, store window displays and e-commerce delivery boxes to life.

Brick-and-mortar retailers find they must enliven their stores and shopping experiences to lure customers who increasingly flock online to the likes of Amazon.

The ZaraAR app, which will be available starting April 12 for a period of two weeks, aims to bring some of the high-fashion runway excitement to 120 of its physical stores around the world. When consumers hold their phones over the previously mentioned activation point in stores, or on their Zara deliveries, they’ll see models showing off styles from the SS18 Studio collection, and they’ll be able to hear them speak, too. Consumers can purchase the featured products with one click through the AR app or in stores.

RetailNews Asia reports that the AR app will feature a fresh new set of looks for the second week of its run, in order to keep consumers interacting and discovering something new.

Though this latest effort is experiential in nature, Zara has been fine-tuning its store experience of late. The retailer has deployed robots to accelerate the order pick-up process for click-and-collect shoppers, who often faced lengthy queues when arriving in store.

Meanwhile, AR continues to push into the mainstream. Amazon recently added augmented reality to its Android app, largely so shoppers can better visualize how big-ticket items such as furniture will look in their domiciles.

Still, though 74 percent of consumers polled by mixed-reality company DigitalBridge last fall said they expect retailers to offer an AR app, most retail companies still haven’t invested in any augmented reality solutions.