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E-Commerce

How Beauty Brands Use AR Try-On to Reimagine Online Shopping

Feb 3, 2021 · 3 minutes read
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While digital innovation has been at the forefront of the advancements in the retail industry, there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated brands' digital transformation and their quick adoption of digital-first business strategies. In this year's Perfect Corp. Global Beauty Tech forum, Julee Wilson, Beauty Director at Cosmopolitan, moderated a panel with three leading beauty brands and retailers to discover the unique ways they are innovating and rethinking the consumer experience—online and offline—to meet the challenges of the moment.

Joined by panelists Joe Rago, Director of Digital Innovation at Ulta Beauty; Jennifer Brant-Gargan, Vice President, Global Technology Lead at Clinique; and Tyler Wozny, Senior Vice President Digital at Madison Reed, Wilson delivered the latest and most impactful beauty tech solutions across these three pioneering brands. 


Full replay of the Global Beauty Tech Forum panel discussion.

Read on to find out how Ulta Beauty, Madison Reed, and Clinique are adapting their digital-first action plans to deliver the content and support their customers' demand.

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Ulta's Virtual Try-On Enhances the Customer Journey

"The retail landscape was changing very quickly in the pre-COVID world, and COVID definitely accelerated everything from a digital perspective, months, if not years, ahead of time," says Rago.

For Ulta Beauty, major digital changes have included in-store virtual activations, virtual try-on, and on-demand video consultations. With store closures in March and April, Ulta Beauty shoppers opted to shop via digital channels online and mobile. Store re-openings throughout the year challenged the beauty retailer to implement necessary in-store changes to provide a safer, contactless in-store shopping experience. This meant eliminating tester products and introducing virtual try-on experiences in-store to better serve customers today.

ULTA Beauty virtual try on
Virtual eyebrow, virtual eye lashes, and virtual hair color try-on in 'ULTA Beauty' app.

In order to best leverage an omnichannel approach, Rago shared the unique ways Ulta re-imagined the shopper experience by incorporating QR code scanning in-store, adding skin analysis features, and offering an on-demand beauty advisor 1-on-1 option to boost customers' comfort in their online purchase. The virtual try-on option also allowed Ulta to expand its brand partnerships, and the company launched takeover days with beauty advisors and experts who provided skilled product recommendations to users. This integrated and end-to-end customer journey allows the brand to continue to engage the customers digitally despite the pandemic-caused changes. It also further personalizes the brand's shopping experience, and adds high-touch experiences into Ulta's digital offerings.

Madison Reed's Virtual Try-On Welcomes the New At-Home Customer

As a direct-to-consumer brand, Madison Reed has been an early-adopter of the virtual try-on experience.

"One of our biggest hurdles is confidence—hair color is a hard product to buy online, there's so many factors— so if we can reduce that fear and drive that confidence through live try-on, we do it," says Wozny.

Madison Reed hair color try on
Live virtual hair color try-on experience on www.madison-reed.com

The brand has been transforming at-home hair color, and with salon closings throughout the country, many customers were opting for the opportunity to dye their hair at home. For Wozny and the team, this meant new first-time clients, and many of which were using the built-in virtual try-on technologies on Madison Reed's website to make more confident purchase decisions.

Throughout the year, Madison Reed has seen an impressive 38% increase in conversion thanks to the incorporation of the virtual try-on AR technology. The brand's color crew agents and customers alike have both used the feature to help choose the best hair color for clients and themselves.

Clinique's Virtual Try-On Meets the Needs of the Moment

With 50 years of science and customer loyalty, Clinique has been a pioneer and a master in using technology to better serve its users, both before and during the pandemic.

"We have been so laser-focused on what our consumer needs up to that point, that we're already playing in this space," says Brant-Gargan. "We know that everything's moved to digital, everything's on-demand, people are at home and they want things at their fingertips."

Clinique shade finder experience
AI Smart Foundation Finder experience from Clinique (open this link on a mobile phone to experience the AI Foundation Shade Finder tool)

The skincare, cosmetics, and fragrance giant has made it a priority to meet the customer where she is, both in-store, online, and especially across social media. Through its Foundation Finder tool (open this link on a mobile phone to experience the AI Foundation Shade Finder tool), Clinique helps consumers find their perfect shade match, and instantaneously reveals the recommended colors. The built-in virtual try-on feature then lets a user see how the shade looks on their skin, and even offers further options to test out other products. In perfecting the virtual skin diagnostic analysis, foundation matching science, and lip color try-on, Clinique has delivered the at-home digital try-on experience the consumer needs to feel confident browsing and shopping at home.

Watch the full webinar video here.

Get expert advice from Perfect Corp. and be part of the beauty tech trend. Contact us for details on beauty tech solutions trusted by 300+ brands globally.

Read our “Complete Guide to Beauty Tech” to unlock powerful ROI secrets.

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