Amazon is tapping into augmented reality in an attempt to appeal to sneakerheads shopping its site. The retailer this morning announced a new feature called Virtual Try-On for Shoes that will allow customers to visualize how a pair of new shoes will look on themselves from multiple angles using their mobile phone’s camera.
The company says the feature will help brands to better showcase their products while also informing customers’ purchasing decisions. The launch follows the rollout of other virtual try-on technology for athletic shirts this past April, as part of an update to its “Made for You” custom clothing service. In that case, however, the technology was rendering the shirt on an avatar that represents the customer’s body, based on their actual measurements and doesn’t use AR.
The new AR try-on feature for shoes will initially launch in the U.S. and Canada in the Amazon shopping app on iOS. To use the feature, customers will tap on the new “Virtual Try-On” button below the product image on supported styles to get started.
At launch, try-on will be available across thousands of styles from brands including New Balance, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Saucony, Lacoste, Asics and Superga, Amazon says.
To try on the shoes, customers will point their phone’s camera at their feet and the AR shoes will appear. They can then use the included carousel to swap out colors of the same style of shoe without having to exit the experience. From here, shoppers can also snap a photo of their virtual try-on experience by tapping the “Share” icon. This lets them save the photo to their device and post to social media.
“Amazon Fashion’s goal is to create innovative experiences that make shopping for fashion online easier and more delightful for customers,” said Muge Erdirik Dogan, president of Amazon Fashion, in a statement about the new feature. “We’re excited to introduce Virtual Try-On for Shoes, so customers can virtually try on thousands of styles from brands they know and love at their convenience, wherever they are. We look forward to listening and learning from customer feedback as we continue to enhance the experience and expand to more brands and styles,” Dogan added.
The feature was previously in testing with select customers, Amazon notes, so some users may have access before now.
Amazon has been fairly slow to embrace AR technology for online apparel shopping, despite increased competition from competitors in this space. In the past, it’s seen AR as more of a tool or toy. In years past, it has experimented with AR for furniture shopping and has used AR for inconsequential features, like AR Stickers or to add AR features to seasonal shipping boxes.
Meanwhile, Big Tech rivals including Pinterest, Google and Snapchat have leveraged AR to allow shoppers to try on makeup, apparel and accessories. Snap recently expanded its investment in AR shopping with the introduction of tools that turn retailers’ photos into 3D assets and the launch of an in-app destination for AR fashion and virtual try-on called “Dress Up.” The company said that more than 250 million Snapchat users have engaged with AR shopping Lenses more than 5 billion times since January 2021.
Amazon’s top U.S. competitor Walmart also recently turned to virtual try-on with its March 2022 debut of an AI-powered try-on feature, “Choose My Model,” which was based on technology it acquired the prior year from the startup Zeekit. Here, Walmart shoppers can try on clothes in sizes XS through XXXL across virtual models ranging in height from 5’2″ and 6’0″. While that’s a more complex use of technology than Amazon’s virtual try-on of shoes, it does not leverage AR.
Asked if Amazon had any data that suggested virtual try-on actually increased conversions, an Amazon spokesperson didn’t have much to offer. They didn’t share any specific metrics and spoke only of how the feature was an “experiment” in making shopping easier. They also noted Amazon was experimenting in other areas, including virtually trying on eyewear and virtually trying on outfits on a personal avatar.