"A third of consumers have expressed their keen interest in a fashion retail mobile app that is augmented reality enabled." - WGSN, 2017.
The dissertation, 'Reality check: is the future of fashion virtually immersive?" explores virtual reality (VR) technology's current and potential impact on the fashion retail industry. It aimed to determine whether VR should be considered as an asset or complication to fashion retail brands. The research identified that the role of traditional retailers, both on and offline, has changed. Whilst the immediacy of retail is still a prevalent consumer consideration in the shopping process, today's consumers are now in need of an improved shopping experience; one that is experiential, interactive, and sensory engaging. Thus, VR was presented as an asset to the fashion retail industry.
However, it was concluded that VR also has its accompanying complications. Not only is it fairly expensive to produce, develop and host VR experiences, it is also considered merely as a novelty. Research identified that the fundamental reason as to why consumers had an initial interest in VR technology, was because it was a new idea, which they had not previously experienced. If the technology only supplements novelty to the shopping experience, it may be considered unnecessary.
Following the dissertation recommendations, the Final Major Project explored a different reality-altering technology: augmented reality (AR). Selfridges Animate is an marker-based AR mobile app designed to advance the brand's shopping experience and omnichannel strategy.
The concept was developed from a multitude of key drivers, such as the capability of the smartphone, increase in mobile commerce popularity and a lacklustre fashion retail app offering. Additionally, research identified that a third of consumers expressed a keen interest in an AR-enabled fashion retail mobile app. As 40% of consumers remain dissatisfied with their fashion retail app choices, it became apparent that currently, fashion retail brands are yet to offer a mobile app with AR utility. Thus, a market gap was identified and applied to the Selfridges & Co. brand, as research also showed department stores in particular, failed to offer a cohesive omnichannel strategy, whilst also suffering from declining footfall.