Target Corp.’s testing of an augmented reality-powered platform from Perfect Corp. that allows shoppers to virtually try on makeup products is seen as a “bold move” that will increase conversions and position the mass retailer as a leader in deploying AR technology, according to industry observers.
Christina Hennington, senior vice president of beauty and essentials at Target, said in a blog post this week that the test of Target Beauty Studio reflects a convergence of the physical with the digital. She noted Target shoppers “love to explore” and the technology gives “guests even more convenient options to find the perfect beauty items for their unique needs.”
Hennington said Target “guests can virtually try on hundreds of makeup items, including different lip colors, cheek colors and false eyelashes instantly” via technology that uses “real-time facial mapping technology, letting guests explore and have fun without the mess.”
Mai Kang, vice president of research operations at Fuel Cycle, which offers consumer and market insights for retailers and brands, said retailers “need to be innovative and incorporating AR in a meaningful way accomplishes this. Target has potentially found a way to break the barrier of consumer hesitation of buying things online without trying on a product – adding AR components to ‘put on’ the makeup takes away the need of going to the store – provide a try-and-buy experience all on your phone.”
Kang said aside from a “stress-free and convenient” shopping experience, consumers get product information as well as suggestions on related products. “It’s also important to note that they are doing this also for furniture in home — along with beauty,” Kang added.
Target released the home goods AR technology last fall with the “See It In Your Space,” which is on target.com and can be used with any smartphone. “The process eliminates the hassle of ordering real furniture, only to discover that it doesn’t quite work in your home,” Target said in a statement at the time of the rollout.
“These convenient and thoughtful shopping experiences are what helps build a loyal customer base,” Kang explained. “Not to mention, this will help get more people on the Target App as well. This is going to help merge and align the digital and physical space so that they are one homogenized experience. Operationally, it can reduce the amount of returns, optimizes warehouse space, which is a win-win for both the customer and the retailer.”
Joshua March, chief executive officer of customer engagement solution provider Conversocial, said that given the current retail landscape, “extending innovative experiences to your customer base as new tooling and standards emerge is imperative to keep up — [and] augmented reality is a great place for Target to start.”
March said with a nearly endless supply of product choices, which is amplified online, “retailers need to figure out how to help customers navigate that choice, storytelling efforts involving AR is a really great way of doing this.”
“With the goal of increasing the overall customer experience, enabling consumers to have real-time interaction with Target experts over web and mobile is also a huge step in the right direction—again, it’s all about navigating through a complex number of choices; if ease of use and meaningful engagement are laced into the consumer experience — they will keep coming back,” March said.
The ceo also offered some suggestions for Target. March said as a next step, “Target should look to take advantage of more modern messaging technologies instead of traditional SMS and webchat…if they used Messenger, they could have a seamless experience across both web and mobile and would be able to include interactive elements and product information in the conversation much easier than over traditional SMS and chat.”