Magic mirror, Monster mirror, perhaps too expensive to say I love you

If you have all the money you need to build a future brick&mortar concept store, perhaps Farfetch is the one to look up to for some inspirations. This luxury e-commerce unicorn has been testing the idea of high-end and high-tech offline stores. You can see below video demo.

 

 

In the video, Farfetch highlighted 3 technologies they are deploying:

  • Connected Rail (using RFID and ultra sound)
  • Connected Mirror
  • Interactive Hologram

 

Among them, the connected mirror seems to be an alluring idea, which is essentially under the big technology name IOT (any device that is Internet connected, is capable of sending information to a cloud storage system and can interact with other Internet-connected devices). IOT that applies to retail sector basically falls into two key categories:

  • Technology that tracks inventory and consumer behavior: This includes using devices such as RFID sensors that can track the location and movement of items in-store, as well as monitor consumer behavior in-store
  • Technology that interacts with customers: This means devices that make shoppers’ experience easier and more engaging, such as the smart interactive mirrors we are seeing here that enable customers to virtually try on clothing, often adding AR (Augmented Reality) effect on top

 

Early adoption of the smart mirror happened in the beauty sector. A Canadian background company Modiface has been existing in the market for a decade and is the AR makeup mirror solution provider behind big cosmetics brands like Estée Lauder and Sephora. It is said ModiFace’s virtual makeup mirror is able to increase in store sales by 31%.

 

 

Today aside from AR makeup mirror, Modiface is offering a wide range of products, most notably skin AI which can intelligently understand how the skin is aging just based on your customers’ live video so as to measure how well the product is improving their facial conditions.

 

Over the years, more startups are diving into the smart mirror business. Founded in 2013, Memomi, this California based company is working on smart mirror experience for both fashion and beauty. Its full-length fashion mirror allows shoppers to have side-by-side videos comparing two potential outfits. See below video for demo. The company is now serving department store Neiman Marcus.

 

 

In 2015, another San Francisco based startup Oaklab was born, aiming to bring the smart mirror into the fitting room, which is very similar to Farfetch’s connected mirror setup. Oaklab’s prestigious clients include Rebecca Minkoff and Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren bought 16 of Oak’s full-size touch screen mirror units. Ralph Lauren already had RFID coverage across many of its stores for inventory accuracy and supply chain efficiency, but Oaklab convinced Ralph Lauren to use the RFID smart mirror to enhance fitting room experience for the customers. See video demo below.

 

 

Sometimes some brands just would like a mirror to gain enough attention, increasing dwell time from their customers. A UK startup Rattle is helping their clients to achieve such objective and fun. It created a monster mirror for Pepsi Max in order to prank people on Halloween. The startup was chosen as part of Unilever Foundry 50 last year. Its AR technology specialized in the latest 3D motion graphics with a facial positioning tracker for live video feeds and real time engagement opportunity.

 

 

In China, Alibaba is already helping brands to implement virtual AR mirror in their offline stores in order to integrate their offline CRM&transaction system with their e-commerce stores on Tmall. In Hong Kong, actiMirror, a startup established in 2014, has launched its new connected smart mirror platform designed for the retail, hospitality, healthcare and exhibition sectors as well. So far Swire’s Mr & Mrs Fox, Li & Fung and El Willy’s Group restaurants have tried actiMirrors as pilot project.

 

But at the end of the day, various kinds of smart mirror solutions do not come cheaply. For instance:

  • Modiface: brands have to pay at least USD 200,000 to USD 500,000 a year to integrate its technology
  • Oaklab: It costs at least USD 25,000 per mirror (the price falls for larger orders) and adds a monthly licensing fee for the software.Or the clients can sign a 5 years contract and pay USD 7,000 to USD 9,000 a year

 

So we can imagine a crowd of spectators with small wallet might say “Wow” at first, then back off immediately. And only a handful of upscale brands or retailers can have a real taste of how these diverse “mirror concepts” truly reflecting the improvement in their business.

Author: Cecilia Wu