Impact of Virtual trial rooms in Ecommerce : Improved conversion, Reduced order returns

Gone are the days, when consumers steered clear of online shopping because it did  not give them an option to try out what they were about to buy. Online retailers have been busy making shopping experience as close to physical shopping experience.

In the past few months, we have seen virtual  trial rooms launched by online retailers such as Zovi, Lenskart and Kingschest.

Zovi Eye : The Virtual Trial Room

Zovi Eye : The Virtual Trial Room

Why virtual trial rooms?

Over the years in India, one of the biggest concerns for online shopping in categories such as apparels and accessories is that customers don’t know how exactly will the garments and accessories look on them (read: Why Indians do not buy online). “It is very crucial for consumers to try product like sunglasses as it involves high try and look feel” says Peyush Bansal, CEO, Lenskart.

Virtual trial room also give improve conversion rates and reduce order returns, e-tailers say.

Who all have virtual trials?

Sensing the need of introducing feature that assist consumers in visualizing how the apparels and accessory look on them, Zovi had launched Zovi Eye.

Following the trend, Lenskart, an etailer of sunglasses, contact lenses and other eye care products also launched Try on your face for buyers to try on eyeglasses before making a buy.

Kingschest, a home decor portal has also rolled out  a virtual app where consumers can design and imagine their rooms in three easy steps. Consumers can select a room or an exterior from the catalogue of photos available in the app, apply colours and products to a variety of surfaces in the photo.

Not to be left behind, Myntra is currently working on a dressing room feature which will go live in a couple of months. By using dressing room feature,  shoppers on Myntra can view their shortlisted products on a virtual mannequin and share newly composed looks with friends to source feedback (via social sharing) before making an actual purchase.

Higher conversion rates, lower order cancellations

Most of these apps make use of the webcam on your computer to create a better shopping experience. E-tailers claim that they are seeing an improvement in conversion rate after the launch of such apps.

Impact of such apps are particularly dramatic on categories such as jewellery , where women are able to clearly visualize the appearance and the fit. Zovi also witnessed a 25-30 % increase in the revenue since Zovi Eye launch, says Monappa N, Head (Marketing), Zovi. Conversion rate has also gone up by 5- 6 % because of its try it on feature. More than half of Zovi’s orders come as cash on delivery and about three out of 10 such orders are tried out before they are bought. Zovi Eye was developed by its in-house team using freely available software Open CV platform and action script language.

Currently, Kingschest’s virtual app is being used by 5-7 % of overall users visiting the website. Consumers from tier 2 & 3 cities constitute 30% of Kingschest’s virtual trial app usage. The app is powered by Varatys’s Virtual Designer, which is available on subscription basis and its cost varies from Rs. 75,000 to 4.5 lakh depending on scale and need.

What about privacy?

As the virtual trial room feature enables users to click their pictures and try the products on the etailer’s website, there is an obvious concern regarding user privacy. Etailers offering such apps point out that their software doesn’t save pictures of consumers who go for trial.

Virtual Trial rooms: Globally Speaking

The concept of virtual trial rooms are new to India, however it had been successfully tried by etailers across the Europe and US over the past few years. Online retailers such as Barbour (UK),  Ermenegildo Zenga (Italy) and Pretty Green (UK) have been using the virtual trial rooms powered by Fitsme and whatfitsme. While European e tailers powered by Fitsme and Whatfitsme allow users to enter their size and choose size tool, Indian etailers offer feature that allow users only to see the look of particular apparel by clicking photos.

While the consumers’ basic apprehensions such as fitting and look of a particular clothing piece and accessory dissipate with such app, etailers can also reduce their costly order returns, improve conversion rate and enhance consumer satisfaction. With more etailers adopting virtual trial rooms, it has potential to revolutionize the way consumers shop for clothing and accessories online in India.

What are your thoughts? Are such features a better investment than 100 days return policies?