The Yves Rocher app

After two years providing virtual makeup try-on capabilities to brands like Sephora, L’Oreal and Jane Iredale, ModiFace today introduces a new e-commerce platform that allows beauty brands to add live video 3D try-on to their Web sites with a single line of code.

The Toronto-based company used information from data and focus groups to determine which factors contribute most to making sales online, and has incorporated these findings into this e-commerce 2.0 version. The bottom line, said chief executive officer Parham Aarabi, is common sense simplification.

The ability to see your photo at the point of purchase only significantly boosts sales “if you do things correctly,” he said. In other words, realism in a photo or video makes a tremendous impact, and can take augmented reality from gimmicky to increasing conversion rates. On the other hand, if realism is not there, he said, conversion rates are reduced by 22 percent. “A photo with lipstick on your forehead can actually hurt sales.”

Thus, he said, although the company has already provided live 3D try-on on native iPhone applications, virtual try-on using a still photo, and a “smart” mirror, ModiFace waited until the technology could provide a certain level of realism, whether it’s placement of product or the simulation of colors, before making new update available. Sephora is the first brand to incorporate the new version of ModiFace on its e-commerce site, and customers will be able to try it soon, Aarabi said.

He also shared other findings from the ModiFace research into using augmented reality at the point of sale in beauty. In keeping with the simplification idea, Aarabi shared that every extra step required to experience the 3D try-on decreases the likelihood that a customer will make a purchase; if it takes more than four clicks, the conversion rate is less than 10 percent.

He also reported that a lot of additional features in a try-on app ultimately hurt sales. So, for example, while a brand may be tempted to incorporate a “share” button for Facebook, that can distract from the end goal of converting people on a brand’s Web site. Finally, in a reflection of the in-person retail experience, the more shades that a customer tries on virtually, the more engaged they are and thus the more likely to buy a product.