Consumers dreaming of powdery mountaintops have a new way to plan out their ski ensembles before they hit the slopes.
On Wednesday, Mountain Hardwear announced that it has taken the “guesswork out of shopping by bringing the ski shop to you with high-fidelity augmented reality,” according to its website. A newly released augmented reality (AR) experience gives fans of winter sports an interactive way to check out all the accoutrements they need to complete their Gore-Tex ski outfits and hit the slopes in style.
Though just two weeks remain in 2019, the year has seen brands roll out augmented and mixed-reality experience as the technology matures and consumers expect innovative enhancements to their online shopping journey. Gucci brought a touch of luxury to AR with the advent of a tech-forward app giving consumers the chance to virtually try on its popular Ace sneakers. And backpack brand Herschel worked with Vertebrae to add AR to its e-commerce pages ahead of the back-to-school shopping season so consumers could see and spin its products before committing to a purchase.
A Columbia Sportswear subsidiary and retailer of apparel, equipment and accessories for outdoor sports and activities, Mountain Hardwear discovered that AR can solve many of the obstacles that can hinder consumers from purchasing products for their skiing needs. While many simply lack the time to shop in store, others dislike not knowing whether a store will have the product they want in stock. Still others don’t quite trust the product photos displayed on e-commerce, especially when faced with pricey purchases like snowsuits and ski boots.
“Our hope is that shoppers will use AR technology to interactively explore technical fabrics and design features, resulting in a more informed buying decision,” Jeff Brandon, Mountain Hardwear associate director of brand deployment, said in a statement.
San Francisco creative agency Transparent House helped Mountain Hardwear execute the AR experience, which is available through an iOS app and e-commerce and lets shoppers zoom in on material details otherwise difficult to accurately view online. Shoppers can view a range of ski items, including gloves, jackets and bibs.
“We are excited to be on the leading edge of developing this new technology and changing the way people shop for their gear,” Mountain Hardwear vice president of marketing Snow Burns said.
“And as mobile AR technology becomes universal, we want to be sure we are meeting consumer demand,” she added.
Valued at $4.3 billion in 2017, the global market for augmented reality is to reach $149 billion by 2025, a growth rate of more than 55 percent, according to Kenneth Research.