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Augmented Reality is the Mall Killer (If There Is One)

Against all traditionalists, A/R is going usher in a new era of shopping. Yes, I get it! Nothing new.

Augmented Reality is the Mall Killer (If There Is One)

Those funny Snapchat filters ain't just for fun anymore. Major retailers are taking notice of the power of augmented reality and the impact it could have on the bottom lines.

Attention spans are shrinking and the growing hesitation to leave the house because of a ravaging pandemic has increased investments into virtual experiences. Have you played with a damn Oculus yet? It's WILD. A little corny. But, it gives a real glimpse into what our buying experiences will look like in the next decade. And malls are screwed (sort of). Unless they can adapt. Stores like Allbirds and Marine Layer in Austin, TX have embraced this amazingly by creating boutique and intimate environments.

The days of "I wish I could try this on" are gone. Wasn't that the only reason you went to the store anyway (besides TP, of course).


Believe it or not, Snap Inc. will be at the forefront in changing our buying experience. And they've been focused on it MUCH longer than other companies out there.


2015 - Looksery for Lenses

2016 - Bitstrips

2016 - Spectacles Launch

2016 - Acquired Flite, Israel based A/R startup

2018 - Snap Camera for PC webcams launched

2019 - Snap raises 1 billion in support of A/R

2020 - Acquires A.I. Factory for $166M

Retailers are looking to rely on A/R to help customers try on products. It displays goods as a filter, adding furniture to your apartment or dropping shoes on your feet.

COVID-19 created a mandatory push to move operations online, completely changing business models and causing retailers to scramble. And with Black Friday shopping sliding 20% and online purchases rising 21.6% (according to Morgan Stanley), online returns have become the final nail in the coffin. They've caused real headaches for brands and consumers. Which has lead brands to Snap's platform to add an array of new shopping experiences.

In June 2020, try on experiences from brands like Gucci and Dior started to pop up like crazy. Nearly 19 million Snapchat users have tried on Gucci products using a filter.

I don't think it'll kill the retail experience, but will make it better…

This doesn't mean it will turn into sales. They're still traditionalists out there. Many play with filters but never buy anything. This is why I don't think the retail experience is going away at all. It'll become boutique, more intimate with a sheer avoidance of malls in general.

Where I do think A/R will help are with returns. I've bought sooo many items from Black Friday that didn't fit, and if I had an A/R experience that was timely, I wouldn't have wasted my time, and brands I bought from could save on expenses and avoid inventory issues.

All, Story of the Week


September 11, 2021

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