John Lewis exploring 'more complex' AR deployments

The John Lewis technology and digital team is working on ways to implement augmented reality (AR) in its stores.

Commenting in the department store retailer’s annual retail report, How We Shop, Live and Look, which was released this week, director digital Sienne Veit said the “positive reaction” to in-store AR tests earlier this year has whetted the appetite for further exploration.

“With the incredible advances in digital technology over the last few years, our focus is on using technology’s possibilities for creating fun, playful and genuinely useful experiences,” she noted.

So far in 2019 John Lewis has trialled a ‘Virtual Lipstick Experience’, which enabled customers to digitally try on different shades using the selfie camera on their smartphones, and in the summer it tested an AR-driven ‘Visualise Your Space’ solution in its stores. Shoppers were able to plan how furniture looked in their own homes using the technology.

“The Virtual Lipstick Experience combined the expertise of our beauty hall partners with the very best in AR technology,” explained Veit.

“The app gave a real “wow moment” to customers and really helps customers make the right lipstick choice that suits them.”

She added: “Based on its positive reception, we’re now exploring more complex AR services to help customers visualise furniture items in their own space.”

The digital director noted that behind the scenes of such deployments are a team of search pros, data analysts, app developers, virtual reality (VR) experts and social media specialists, who “push the boundaries of retail”.

Meanwhile, fashion retail group and Zara owner, Inditex, said last week that it has started using VR to help train new staff.

In a post on the retail conglomerate’s LinkedIn page, it revealed that new recruits can undertake a VR experience to learn the basics of what is required from them once they start their in-store role.

“We're innovating to make the onboarding process more fun and interactive,” said Inditex. 

Costa Coffee and Walmart are among the other retail and hospitality companies using VR to help train their employees.