NEW YORK - Call it the Snapchat effect.
Some high-tech mirrors out there are borrowing from the social media giant, which offers face “lenses” to decorate selfies shared among its users.
Instead of putting dog ears or sparkly rainbow tongues on photos, popular on Snapchat, these mirrors allow consumers to apply virtual lipstick shades, eyeglasses and earrings.
And they’re gaining popularity among retailers who want to lure shoppers back into stores.
“Virtual try-on offers people the ability to try on numerous products, many more than they would be able to try on otherwise,” said Peter Johnson of FaceCake Marketing Technologies.
Johnson was recently demonstrating Dangle — it uses augmented reality to let customers try on multiple earring styles without ever touching a pair of earrings.
In Dangle’s case, the “mirror” is actually a computer monitor and handheld tablet. Using the device’s cameras and facial recognition technology, Dangle positions virtual earrings on customers.
Each pair gently swings and sways, giving the experience a realistic feel. Retailers can showcase their entire stock of earrings, allowing customers to try on multiple styles and colors.
It’s a unique way to shop and gives retailers added benefits, too. No one can steal a pair of virtual earrings.
“In-store jewelry, even costume jewelry, is now quite expensive,” said Johnson, “This is a way to keep inventory secure, while people are making decisions about what they want to wear.”
Cross-selling is another advantage. A store associate who sells evening wear for example, can use Dangle to show how different earring styles will look with a particular dress or outfit.
Beauty makeover 2.0
For many shoppers, finding that just-right shade of foundation or lipstick can take several hit-or-miss attempts at the makeup counter. Smart mirrors can help. Customers at Neiman Marcus stores can use touchscreen mirrors by MemoMi to virtually apply and change multiple shades of makeup in one session.
The “Memory Makeover” mirrors also record and share videos of in-store makeovers, allowing customers to review the entire process, complete with voice notes.
“Customers, when they get a makeover, they don’t remember what order, how it was applied,” said Alec Gefrides, general manager of transactional retail at Intel, the computer chip giant. “Being able to teach an individual, ‘Okay, this is the makeup that we used with you today’ but also how to apply it, you can take that with you and try it, repeat the process at home.”
Bridging Online and Brick-And-Mortar Experiences
In the ongoing quest to drive in-store sales, retailers are continually building elements of online and mobile experiences into brick-and-mortar locations.
For the consumer, the experience is an extension of what they’re already come to expect from online shopping - an interactive and social experience with convenient, seamless checkout. Smart mirrors using Dangle do double duty, offering countless styles to try on while also functioning as a checkout system for speedier transactions.
MemoMi mirrors allow retailers to collect data - creating a profile of customers and gaining greater insight into their likes, dislikes and purchasing history. Just as an online retailer gleans information from customer data, these in-store fixtures can help sales associates make more informed product recommendations and tailor promotions to customers which will translate to sales.
As technologies improve, Gefrides sees brick-and-mortar retailers making a comeback.
“We always hear about the big store closings,” said Gefrides. But Intel is seeing more retailers turn to technology to improve customers’ in-store experience.