Why The Webcam Social Shopper Isn’t A “Virtual Fitting Room”

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As other companies finally enter the augmented reality ecommerce space to try and compete with us, we’ve noticed a trend: they all refer to their execution as a “virtual fitting room”, and promise brands that they will allow shoppers to “try on clothes” from the comforts of their own homes. And while I completely understand how that metaphor would be an easy connection for potential clients to make, I’d like to take a moment to explain why we’ve always actively avoided using that type of messaging/language when discussing our Webcam Social Shopper (WSS).

Simply put: With the current technology shoppers are using at home (i.e. a normal computer and webcam) we can’t deliver on the promise of fit. No one can. And we feel it’s critical that we help brands to manage their shopper’s expectations from the get-go.

Let’s for the sake of this post completely ignore how important an apparel item’s tactile feel is when you try something on, and focus solely on what a shopper would expect when they’re in a dressing room trying something on. They’d expect to see where that item bunches, grabs, sags, and hangs. “Does the blouse hang too low?” “Are these jeans gonna give me a muffin top?” They’d want to see how that particular item would fit their very unique body, and rightfully so. Companies are proactively telling them they can “try something on”, and a shoppers only frame of reference is what happens in the real world. So all developers are doing by setting those expectations is setting shoppers (and online retailers) up to be disappointed by the experience rather than excited.

But “so what” if you can’t see how it fits? The value proposition doesn’t have to be about fit to greatly advance the current online shopping experience (especially for young women, who have grown up digital but are still shopping with their grandmother’s internet).  WSS is about validating color and style, and seeing if an item is “right for you”, just like you would at the rack in a store. It’s about asking a friend “what do you think?” and getting that all important feedback before a purchase is made. Or maybe a shopper just wants to find a top to match a particular skirt they already own at home, that we can help with. But fit? Nope. Sorry, I truly wish it could be done. At the end of the day WSS (and its imitators) is just another tool to help shoppers validate their purchase (and hopefully have some fun doing it), just like “zooming” in on an item.

Now, I’d love to get your thoughts. Are we being too literal? Getting caught in the weeds, or do you agree with us that messaging makes a difference?