David’s Bridal is giving brides a better look at their shopping gowns online, now that Covid-19 is keeping many shoppers away from stores.
The mass-market seller of wedding garb partnered with 3D and augmented reality (AR) solutions provider Vertebrae to bring virtual bridal gowns and dresses into the to-be-wed’s online buying experience.
With the partnership, shoppers gain a full 360-degree view of an array of wedding gowns, allowing viewers to walk around the dresses as pictured in their room, see how a gown will look next to other wedding-party outfits, and examine intricate details up close on the website before heading to stores.
Brides who already have their gowns can wear them standing side-by-side with virtual bridesmaid dresses to see which colors and prints match best and take a screenshot to refer to at a later date.
“With the temporary shutdown of stores in early March, we took the opportunity to reimagine the experience and help bring excitement to shoppers at home,” said Lizzy Ellingson, chief digital experience officer at David’s Bridal. “Vertebrae’s renderings enable brides-to-be, and their bridesmaids, the ability to view life-sized digital renderings in fine detail, boosting their confidence to narrow down options and buy online, which is something we know brides are becoming more comfortable with every day.”
Ellingson said David’s Bridal is the first bridal retailer to offer this technology.
“Our recent implementation with David’s Bridal is an example of how much apparel retailers stand to gain from immersive features,” Vince Cacace, CEO of Vertebrae, told Sourcing Journal. “The site showcases more than 50 top-selling gowns with web-based 3D and AR renderings that enable close-up views of details such as beading, necklines, trains and fabric patterns. Shoppers can place virtual images in their rooms and walk around them to see them from every angle, as well as view virtual bridesmaids’ dresses alongside their real-life wedding gowns using the AR tool.”
Following the initial launch, new styles of bridal gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses will be added into the 3D and AR assortment on a weekly basis.
Vertebrae’s September survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers found that 48 percent of shoppers didn’t feel safe visiting stores, and 38 percent won’t try on apparel or accessories or test makeup in stores if they do visit, which could incentivize more retailers to go in this direction.
More importantly, the study indicates that 59 percent of shoppers still say they are concerned about whether items will fit, which is an all-important characteristic for apparel for any occasion, let alone a special one like a wedding. With that in mind, the survey also indicates that 76 percent of shoppers that used AR technologies said it increased their purchase confidence.
When Covid-19 forced the shutdown of David’s Bridal’s more than 300 stores for the first time in the brand’s 70-year history, the company rapidly innovated with tools to bring the boutique experience online, adding a virtual wedding stylist, Zoey, virtual video appointments, installment payments from Affirm, a digital wallet from Popwallet and an online wedding vision board, checklist and website builder.
Some of the recent changes have been overseen by the company’s recently appointed chief technology officer, Danny Luczak.
While only 37 percent of shoppers want to use AR to virtually try on new looks, Vertebrae says this is a 48 percent increase since 2018. Fifty-eight percent say they miss not being able to touch or feel products in a store and 56 percent say they didn’t know whether the item that’s delivered will look the same as advertised online.
Cacace notes that apparel retailers on the fence about AR need to recognize that trying on clothes in the dressing room is only part of the equation, not the whole story.
“Shoppers also spend plenty of time looking at clothing on the racks or on mannequins, and they’re interested in style details, fabrics, colors or how to combine pieces,” Cacace said. “Apparel retailers can leverage 3D and AR to mimic this in-store experience and give shoppers an accurately proportioned, life-sized virtual model of a piece of clothing that they can zoom in on from any angle, flip or spin, or even walk around it after placing it in their room. This tells shoppers so much more about the product than a traditional photograph or a video can.”
Generating success from the product visualization platform depends on implementation that includes creation of high-quality 3D assets and experiences tailored to the use case, he said. The formula that works for David’s Bridal may not exactly work the same for another retailer using 3D and AR.
“The process and the user interface for glasses try-on is going to differ from viewing how a wide-screen TV will look on your wall, which differs from placing a virtual sofa in the room,” Cacace said. “Our patented platform streamlines asset creation, management, and deployment, and we combine that with deep retail experience to optimize integration of assets for maximum effect throughout the path to purchase.”