The future of fashion: VR, Tinder-style swiping and smart photo recognition

These exciting new businesses are transforming online shopping

As the online fashion business booms, web giants like ASOS and Net-a-Porter are keen to remain on the cusp of digital innovation, but what’s next for the online retail industry?

At Strategyeye’s Future of Fashion Tech event this month, three businesses presented new ways of encouraging better online sales: according to them, the future of online fashion lies in virtual reality, Tinder-style swiping, and mind-blowing visual search functions.

Trillenium: diving into 3D

As excitement rises ahead of the release of the Oculus Rift next year, many different types of businesses are looking to break down the virtual fourth wall.

Trillenium has been quick off the mark to make its name in the digital fashion space, and has even secured the backing of ASOS (who have 88m unique visitors a month and recently announced a 20% increase in sales).

But why has the retail giant, which owns a 10% shareholding, invested in such a project?

“Trillenium is a platform that can help you to transform an ordinary online store into a 3D or virtual reality store,” explains Trillenium founder Hrvoje Prpic. “It brings an enhanced online shopping experience, social shopping, a virtual store assistant, and what’s most important, virtual reality e-commerce, or ‘V-commerce’.”

There is a lot to be said for so-called “V-commerce”, which links in with the popular trend of gamification.

Running on the Unity 3D game engine, the platform will be compatible with all virtual reality headsets, including Oculus, Google glass, Samsung Gear VR, and even Sony Morpheus, while its hardware can run on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows phone, Mac, Linux and even XBox and PlayStation.

With Trillenium, the game is shopping in an enhanced virtual landscape, and Prpic hopes that the ability to engage socially with other users (and seek approval of a particular item) will slash returns rates for retailers.

The virtual assistant will additionally provide further information, like how many people have viewed a particular item that day, to improve customer experience; the company even plans to replicate iconic spaces, with exact digital versions of luxury department stores like Harrods and Selfridges.

The business, which is currently selling shares on Seedrs, will bring in revenue from sponsored on-site promotions. “For example a ‘Diesel week’ will be paid for by Diesel, and revenue will be split between ASOS and Trillenium,” Prpic explains, “the exposure is huge”.

You could be browsing for brogues from your Oculus in the very near future.

The Edit: swipe for smart mobile data gathering

We’re all familiar with the premise of Tinder: the faces of potential dates appear on your screen, and you can move swiftly through the list of choices, swiping left for no, right for yes.

Bijou, the company behind new app The Edit, hopes to apply the same intuitive practise to the world of online fashion retail in a bid to help companies utilise their mobile user base.

“People weren’t using a mobile in a way that was converting to sales,” says Bijou co-founder Beth Wond, “they were still using their mobile to browse, but ultimately they would go to a desktop to purchase which is not the convenience model that the mobile is there to solve.”

Cracking M-commerce is the next big challenge for many businesses, given that the mobile will easily be the most-used platform by the end of 2015. (In India, some of the key retailers like Flipkart have actually got rid of desktop sites altogether because the penetration of mobile is so high).

Indeed, 75% of all interactions on a mobile happen with your thumb, so it makes sense for some retailers to lean towards a Tinder-style interaction that allows a simple product-focused experience.

If successful, The Edit will provide businesses with earlier, more accurate product feedback, says Wond.

“Depending on your preferences, the retailer can really start to build the most incredible data solutions.

“You’ve got instant insights into buying and merchandising, you don’t have to wait until the end of the sales season to see what remained on the shelves to find out what your going to take to market next time.”

Could this be the forward-thinking app needed to help retailers stay ahead of the seasons?

The Edit is available for free on iOS and Android.

Snap fashion: building more intelligent visual search functions

Snap Fashion is on the up. If you’ve not heard of it, this is the app that lets you take pictures of outfits you like in magazines, in shops or on Pinterest and offers you similar items you can buy through from the web or in store.

“Our company vision is to be to the camera what google is to the keyboard,” says founder Jenny Griffiths. “I want it to be that bit of magic that links content online and content in the real world with real purchasing.”

The first cross-platform visual search engine in the world, Snap Fashion already licences the likes of Westfield shopping centre.

Far more complex than the visual shopping search Google offers, Snap Fashion allows users to match colours, textures or shape incredibly accurately, in a search that includes 16,000 brands and takes just half a second.

In an array of other functions users can choose to “clash”, “mix up” or “be bold” with their ensembles. “You can switch through the categories to find the bag to perfectly match the dress, or to create a new outfit,” Griffiths explains.

Again, this is not just about improving user experience, but about allowing retail businesses to thrive. About 60% of people who take a photo on Snap Fashion will end up browsing on a retailer’s website, says Griffiths.

“If you’re a retailer and things sell out very quickly, say size 10 and 12, instead of someone bouncing off your website and going to a competition you can get show them anything else in the same colour, in the same texture or shape. We improve conversion normally by about a third.”

This same function can be applied to brand’s websites, and to “editor’s picks” in print publications, where a small SnapFashion logo on each image can encourage users to find other styles and matches.

Out with the age of disappointed customers, and in with snap-happy shopping.

Snap Fashion is available for free on iOS and Android.

This post appeared originally on The Memo on July 23, 2015

Picture © Trillenium