Burberry’s new AR experiment with Apple — a fad or a signpost for the future?

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Source: Burberry.com

As usual, Burberry is trying to be ahead of the technology curve with the use of the recently released AR kit that enables developers to easily integrate Augmented Reality experiences into applications on iPhones and iPads.

With two-thirds of luxury sales now being digitally influenced, brands are increasingly looking for ways to attract and engage customers on their digital platforms.

The new augmented-reality feature of the Burberry iOS App allows users to enhance their photos with graffiti-like doodles, designed by Danny Sangra, and share them on social media in a Burberry frame. (As shown below — source: Burberry.com)

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Burberry AR Feature Highlights — Source: Burberry

Is this a big deal? Well yes, if you believe Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, who recently said that AR will transform everything from runway to shopping. To form my own opinion of this new experiment, I took the App for a spin to understand how it could elevate my shopping experience.

Before I evaluate this feature, let’s try and understand the ideal business goals of such an experiment. For digital products (e-commerce), any new feature should achieve one or a combination of the following goals:

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Above are the two photos (on the right) that I created using this feature on the App

And here’s how this feature measures up against the goals listed above:

  • Does it increase engagement? Somewhat. If I’m an existing Burberry app user, I’m likely to play around with it and if I’m socially savvy, I will share my creative rendition on Instagram. This will not only get my friends talking but also draw new people to download the app and share their unique stories. So given the interplay of the artistic expressions X an iconic brand, the individual creativity and the social sharing element, this experiment is likely to drive engagement. Although my own experience curve went from a high level of excitement to boredom in a matter of 20 mins., once I had exhausted all the options and had taken about 10 photos. Am I likely to come back and do it again? Not really.
  • What about the user experience? Depends on how you measure user experience. If you look at NPS as a measure of all overall user experience, then it may not move the needle since this feature doesn’t affect the core drivers of the NPS for an e-commerce platform: Discovery » Purchase » Delivery » Service. However, given the recent significant shift in luxury retail from being transaction led to experience led, this could help in creating a differentiated experience, eventually leading to a higher NPS. The jury is still out on this one.
  • Does it improve the conversion? The AR feature has nothing to do with shopping experience here. You could easily swap this capability with numerous AR apps in the market that allow you take a photo and add your impressions with a library of stickers and doodles, with the exception that here the stickers are designed especially for Burberry. In my opinion, it doesn’t really improve the probability of a sale (conversion rate) for now.

In conclusion, this feature delivered a lot less than what I expected but perhaps my expectations were exaggerated. And this is what leads me to believe that this experiment is more of a fad than a reflection of the true potential of the AR technology. The future is not far, where you will be able to use the same Burberry app to see how the new trench coat would look on you (augmented on top of your live photo) or to try the new Burberry lipstick to see if the colour suits your skin tone. At such a time, one can truly say that AR technology will significantly impact the business goals and will become a must-have for retailers just like it is to have a website today.

AR promises a bold future for shopping and everything else. As Tim Cook says “there is no sector that will be untouched by AR”. Stay tuned and you are sure to be amazed.

Thanks for reading. If you found these words interesting, please recommend them (the little handclap) so it can reach others.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on October 13, 2017.

On a mission to connect the dots amongst data, emotions & randomness. Love using tech and data to deliver joy. Currently at Stanford chasing the next big thing.

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