Clothing retailer Zara brings AR displays to stores to attract millennials

Zara follows other companies such as Sephora in a push to keep customers coming to brick and mortar stores.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Clothing chain Zara will bring augmented reality displays to 120 stores in April, in efforts to attract millennials shoppers to its brick and mortar store locations.
  • Traditional retailers like Zara are increasingly looking to bring emerging technologies into their brick and mortar locations to compete with Amazon and other online retailers.

Clothing retailer Zara plans to introduce augmented reality (AR) displays into 120 stores beginning in April, Reuters reported on Tuesday—the latest effort for a brick and mortar retailer to use technology to draw in millennial shoppers and compete with online retail giants like Amazon.

Zara's AR displays will allow customers to hold a smartphone up to a sensor in the store or store window, to see selected outfits from its clothing lines displayed on a model. Then, the customer can click through to purchase the clothes, according to Reuters.

Customers will also be able to use their phones to see models pop up on the packages of their online purchases once delivered, showing more outfits they can purchase.

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)

Zara's parent company Inditex is known for bringing the latest fashion trends to retail stores in a matter of days, rather than the months it takes many other companies, Reuters noted. It also has been able to compete with online retailers relatively well, according to analysts cited in the report.

"It is now very rare in the physical stores-based part of the retail sector to find companies not disrupted by online," Anne Critchlow, an analyst at Societe Generale, told Reuters. "However, Inditex is a rare example of a company that should fare relatively well."

Zara is far from the only company exploring emerging technologies like AR in their stores. Makeup giant Sephora offers customers a number of tech options that allow them to personalize their shopping experience by trying on makeup virtually using AR, matching their skin tone to a foundation with artificial intelligence (AI), and sampling a fragrance via a touchscreen and scented air.

Many companies in non-technical spheres are becoming digitally aware and proficient, according to Brian Solis, an analyst at Altimeter. However, most are advancing very slowly.

Whatever digital project a company chooses to undergo, the customer's needs must be considered first and foremost, Solis said. "I highly recommend that companies understand how consumer behaviors, preferences, expectations, and values are changing as digital impacts their life and work," he added. "I also recommend plugging into technology and societal trends to understand what's possible and impactful in practice."

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Image: iStockphoto/Marek SLUSARCZYK

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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