PARIS — Eager to muscle its way back to the front lines of retail battles, Hennes & Mauritz AB said Tuesday it is presenting an augmented reality experience with human holograms as well as a new voice application developed with Google Assistant.
The fast-fashion retailer is developing the voice application for a selection of markets called H&M Home Stylist, billing it as one of the first voice applications in the field of fashion and interiors. The application, which is being tested and developed with customer input, gives styling suggestions for different rooms, with a human voice. Google Assistant sent shivers through social networks last month when the tech giant showed how human it sounded placing a phone call for a hair appointment.
“To make the experience even more personal the application will have an exclusive human voice,” H&M said in a statement.
The retailer’s Monki brand teamed with HoloMe to test high-definition human holograms for an augmented reality experience on smartphones and tablets. The technology features nine Monki outfits with 3-D effects, H&M said.
“The fashion industry is changing fast and technology is more important than ever as an enabler in adapting to an ever-changing society,” said Elin Frendberg, of the group’s business development department.
The Swedish retailer has made technology the backbone of its new strategy as it turns away from its previous model of growth fueled by store expansion.
“The two cases we are announcing and testing are illustrations of cutting edge technology in our field,” Frendberg added. The technology is being shown at the Stockholm Fashion Tech Talks conference in Sweden on Tuesday.
H&M has faced criticism for being slow to shift resources to boosting its digital means in order to keep pace with changes in consumption. This year, which executives have called a transition year, got off to a difficult start for the Swedish group; the first quarter was one of its weakest earnings periods in decades as business was hit by discounts and slow sales.
As it ramps up its digital proficiency, the company is also experimenting with new store formats for engaging with customers. It plans to open the first two Afound stores in Sweden this month, a discount store selling a variety of brands.